Top Five Ways to Build MMO Hype

By Jeff Francis
Top five ways to build mmo hype

Developing and launching successful mmorpg games is much more than just putting together a solidly designed game. If nobody knows about the game being developed, then that online game is doomed to failure despite how well crafted it may be. That's why so many companies spend a great deal of time hyping their game. The reason for this building of mmo hype is twofold. The first is just to raise awareness of the game itself. The second is to get players excited about the game to the point that they just can't wait for it to be launched and spend some money on it. Hype, whether we get sick of it or not, is a key component in the launch of any mmo, but there are many different ways to go around hyping a game. We're going to look at some of the more useful methods in our list of the top five ways to build mmo hype.

Our first method of building mmo hype is through Kickstarter. It's an understatement to say that Kickstarter has had a profound impact upon the development of mmo games. Gamers love to get into the action, and nothing says being part of the action like directly supporting a game from its very beginning. Seeing if a game can reach its stated goal help fuels excitement, and this mmo hype can build even further if the funding campaign blows past its original goal and climbs to stratospheric heights. When this happens, a frenzy seems to set in as word quickly spreads across blogs and online gaming websites. The profile of the game is massively raised during this event. An obvious example is Survive the Nights, the upcoming zombie-themed sandbox game, that garnered nine times its original goal.

Survive the Nights kickstarter

Innovative Features
Second on our list of the top five ways to build mmo hype is to create some innovative features for the game. By now, most gamers are aware of the standard systems found in most online games. We have the typical classes, races, classes, crafting methods, and combat modes. It's when a developing game releases some info on a feature that players are not used to is when expectations and mmo hype begins to build. Star Wars: The Old Republic used this to great effect when they announced that all conversations within the game were going to be fully voiced. This was unheard of at the time and created a level of immersion that other games had not reached. Another good example is Rift and their soul system where players can mix and match different souls, each with their own unique abilities. This took the concept of the fixed class and the gaming trinity of dps/healer/tank and stood it on its head. It's when innovative features such as these are revealed is when players begin talking earnestly about an upcoming game.

Solid Communication
Our next entry on our top five ways to build mmo hype list should be a no-brainer, but is something that many companies tend to neglect. I'm talking about solid communication to not only gaming websites but also to the fans. We're used to seeing games offering exclusive interviews to specific gaming websites, but there has to be more than just that. Social media is a powerful tool and online games could use their Facebook and Twitter pages to keep fans informed of progress in the development of the game or of the current state of the game, not to mention any future expansions. Game companies should host regular podcasts or streaming events to keep players apprised of what's going on with the game. Nothing kills excitement for a game in development like hearing nothing for three or four months. Star Citizen has done a tremendous job in interacting with their fans, such as posting a veritable flood of informative videos detailing the game's ongoing development. Talk may be cheap, but it works. More game companies should do far more than just fire off monthly press releases.

Proven Track Record
Few things can help fuel mmo hype like the people behind the game having a proven track record, so this facet comes in at number four in our top five ways to build mmo hype. As gamers, we know the driving personalities behind our favorite games. We're excited when someone that we know had created great games in the past comes onboard a game in development or starts working on a new game altogether. There's a reason why people are excited about Star Citizen and Shroud of the Avatar. Gamers know and trust Chris Roberts and Richard Garriott because they've created many beloved games that we all know by heart (the Ultima series and Wing Commander games). When people of that caliber enthusiastically talk about their latest project, we get caught up in the mmo hype and can't wait to see the results. People trust that developers such as these can deliver on their promises.

Shroud of the Avatar combat

Beta Key Giveaways
Our last method of building mmo hype is through the use of beta key giveaways. Players love getting special access to a game, and all gaming websites will heavily promote any key giveaway that they're a partner of. This builds the exposure of the game, but it also gets more players involved in the testing of the game. As more players log into the mmo, then they'll start blogging and posting about their experiences within the game. The result is that the mmo hype meter keeps running at full steam, and this momentum hopefully carries over to the game's eventual launch.

Ask any advertising executive and they'll tell you that hype is an integral part to the success of any product. This is true of online games as well, so game companies need to find the best ways to generate such mmo hype. By communicating often with their fans and gaming websites, offering beta key giveaways, having a proven track record of making great games, introducing innovative features, and by promoting their game on Kickstarter, an mmo can generate some much-needed hype to get gamers excited. While the creation of mmo hype is important, we do have to remember that the game still has to be good, or all that hype will be for nothing.


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