Feature: 'Building Social Communities For Your Game: A Primer'

How do you create communities based around your game? In this helpful guide, Guitar Hero community creator Peter Ryan references Halo 3 and Spor
How do you create communities based around your game? In this helpful guide, Guitar Hero community creator Peter Ryan references Halo 3 and Spore to show how data-rich websites and social features make games successful. In addition to keeping customers engaged with your product and helping you understand your players' needs, having a well-executed game community site is valuable to both developers and publishers for the following reasons: "If publishers are able to adequately plan and execute a portfolio-wide community strategy, they stand to strengthen their brand, expand their customer relationships greatly and form a community with identifiable cultural and behavioral traits. Real-time customer feedback is guaranteed, though it must be filtered through a community management staff able to usably distill the data. Your product, though thoroughly tested and debugged will have every possible flaw exposed in the first few days of sales. In addition to game bugs there will also be networking issues, account issues, and platform issues. With the proper tools and communication protocols in place you will know very quickly what elements of your game need to be patched, which features of the game are successful (or unsuccessful), and what to start thinking about for your next title." To provide an engaging, data-rich site, however, it's important that you begin planning and designing the community well before the beta phase of the game's development, as you'll need to consider how to best implement social features and what data collection hooks will be needed in the game: "Have you included features into your game which support socially-oriented activity on our community site? These would be features that enable users to compare and contrast one another, features that enable cooperation or competition, features that provide two-way interaction between the game and the web. The answer is probably no. The integration of the game and the web has only recently begun and the full potential of that integration only scratches the full potential of both games and the web. The paradigm of multiplayer cooperative/competitive play is firmly established. The paradigm of community-based game shaping is emerging. In a few years games will be shipped in one state, played and manipulated by the community, and over a matter of a few short weeks metamorphose to another form shaped through the collective efforts and creativity of the community." You can read the full feature, which goes into detail on how to handle cross-platform integration, user-created content, leaderboards, community management, and more (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).

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