A community crime
A hot blog and podcast topic a while back was “To board or not to board? That is the question”. Meaning should there be official forums for a game or, should that work be outsourced to fan sites. The debate even had a full panel discussion at AGDC 2007.
Lots of good points were brought up and debated both in that panel as well as within the industry media. But lets change direction just a little.
Sony Online Entertainment a few months back launched a MySpace site for their upcoming action MMORPG, DC Universe Online. I found this to be a great alternative to building a traditional website and/or forum for a game that is still pre-alpha. Why? Simply because it is too early for a lot of information to be available.
Yet, the bits and pieces that they do want to let out can be done so here in an environment that many potential players already use regularly and are familiar with. They then launched a forum on the page a few weeks later. Another great step. Allowing the growing fan base to mingle with each other. I kept in mind that it was pre-alpha and not a lot of info would come out over the site or forum. But the community friendly atmospheric groundwork had been laid. Kudos to SOE for that. A few blog posts here a screenshot or two and a video there all ads to the attraction of such a site for such an early stage of the game.
However, I soon started to notice that none of the interviews/Q&A’s I had been stumbling upon were being posted to the MySpace site or it’s forums. I thought this strange as I figured they would want to promote as much of this as they could. Not only that, but it is something that the community likes. Easy access to as much information as possible and located in one area is always a plus.
Sure, this is the time that fansites come into play and start growing their own community. However, those same community members are still going to look for an official source now and then. Not to mention the easier time that the fansite staff would have in keeping their information up to date.
One can argue that it is only a MySpace page and not an official site. Well, it is infact an official site as SOE built it and do provide the content for it. Sure it is early on as I have said, but seemingly not wanting to promote their Q&A’s or interviews seems a bit backwards for a site meant to draw interest in the product from the community they also wish to sell it to.
Whats worse, is that it now appears two recent posts in the DCUO MySpace forums were removed. They were posts promoting two recently conducted Q&A’s. I can not fathom why these would be removed. As such, I am hoping and going on faith alone that this was some sort of MySpace forum bug that wiped them out. I just hope that is true. As no one is around to manage that site as it should be though, it is hard to tell.
Which brings us to the point of this blog. Should any site (forum included or not) be created for the community if it is not going to be properly used at even the simplest of levels? Just a simple blog post on the MySpace page saying “Hey gang, we just recently did a Q&A with keepusintheloop.com. Click here to read it.” would more than suffice.
If you are not going to help promote the sites and people promoting you, then don’t build the page. If you’re going to build what is essentially a community page, then make sure you have someone on staff (even a volunteer) who can get the basics such as interview links posted and peek in on the forum from time to time to make sure there are no trolls around. Have them lead a DC Comics trivia game or something once a week.
Even a MySpace site opposed to a standard site needs some occasional live interaction. It does not need to be a Dev or Community Manager. A volunteer community team hopeful would do just fine. It lets the community know that the company is interested in interaction even if news is not being released.
If you can’t do that, then don’t build something for the very community that you are not supporting at the simplest of levels. It is a crime if you do.