A Bridge Not Far Enough

This entry was posted on Jan 29 2011

One of these days I am just going to have to admit that Ant is the brains of this operation, and I’m just the face.

I am not admitting it now. Nope. Right now I am still going to do my best to take the lion’s share of the credit, but, eventually it is going to become so obvious that I will have to admit it.

Once again, Ant has sent me an interesting article concerning the network effect.

The network effect is simply the value a individual adds to a product of service by virtue of using that product or service. An example would be a couple of your friends go to a particular restaurant regularly, so they take you to the restaurant as well. The restaurant may not be exactly to your taste, but you keep going, and will most likely bring others because your friends like it and continue to hang out there. Later on, when the original friends leave, you continue to go to the restaurant with the people you brought later on, because that is where you guys hang out.

Such is the case with WoW. There may be more enjoyable alternatives out there, but players stay with WoW because their friends play WoW, and it would take a lot of work to convince all of your friends to move over to a new game.

Now, games can take advantage of this, in ways that no other media really can. The article points out that some companies are doing so by having achievements and such crossover to other games.

Personally, I think that’s just weak. Not just weak, it is stupid. We can do so much more in gaming. You know what made The Sims such a breakthrough game? The ability for people to add their own content and share it with others. Thanks to that, I had a built a Roman villa and temple. What was great about this is that not only did I keep playing that game because I could constantly get new stuff (which I did), the developers didn’t have to lift a finger to make more content, and the business didn’t have to spend extra money.

Imagine if you applied that to something like WoW. Not only would the numbers of people dropping off between expansions lower, but you could increase the amount of time between expansions, allowing the company more time to focus on quality and spread out the risk of development costs. Sure, you would have to put in controls to make sure that no one created omnisupergodsword of player killing, but I think that it would still be worth it, as doing so would increase the value players bring with them exponentially.


About jkempf

James Kempf, CEO of Cliché Studio, has made two games for Mercury Retrograde Press, learned from managing the comics at Criminal Records that John Stewart is the best Green Lantern, and once happily played a 12 ft. dwarf in Rifts.