An avenue to success of World of warcraft : innovation of social media

World of warcraft is a successful MMORPG game around the globe. Such a great achievement is because of its innovation of playability, balance and interaction among the players. In this blog post, we will focus on the social media aspect and explain how design patterns can enhance the user experience.[3]

Many social media design patterns have been used in this game. Some examples are Sign-up or Registration, Sign Out, Send Invitation, Welcome Area, Profile Availability, Collectible Achievements, and Competitive Spectrum. This post will focus on the design pattern Registration, Send Invitation and Competitive Spectrum, which are all good examples of innovation.

The Registration pattern is used like this:

A user wants to participate posting to message boards, building a personal network—and this participation needs to be attributed and/or associated with the user for purposes of building community or reputation, or building up a personal profile or knowledge base.[2]

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Picture from http://massively.joystiq.com

In this pattern, the player not only needs to generate his own information, but also needs to create a virtual character. Many aspects need to be considered including camp, race, gender and profession for a virtual character . This character also defines the role of social network in the game. What is this character used for? A Tank duty is to attract the enemy and make the defense. A Curer needs to heal other player. And the DPS is the main power to kill the enemy. One of the charms of this game is its flexibility in creating player’s own character. It provides 11 different professions, and each profession has 3 different developing routes. Moreover, the profession have their own defect. Players must collaborate with each other to reach the goal.

How the user collaborates with each other? There are several functions based on send invitation pattern.

If the user experience is enhanced by building a network of user connections, send invitation pattern can be used.[2]

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Picture from codysgameworld.com

Players could build their own team from 5 to 40 numbers and fight with legendary monsters or another player teams.
A party, composed of 2-5 players, is a temporary group formed to accomplish a short-term goal such as a quest or defending against the opposite faction. A party has its own chat channel. Party members may or may not know one another. They have a leader who invites players and can remove them. It is the common way players build their own social network. In a party, the player could share their quest with other members. It is an innovative function to sustain the interaction within the temporary team. If the challenge is big, a Raid can be considered, it is composed by eight parties. In early years, WoW facilitates finding other players to party or Raid with through a chat channel where people advertise the quests they wish to do.[6] Players need to spend a lot of time and effort to from a party or Raid.However, with the release of the function “Looking For Group system”in patch 3.3, players were able to join the dungeon system without publicizing in the channel, all they need is just to choose the role they would like to fill within groups: Healing, DPS, or Tank. Later the system will help them find the appropriate position in a random group.[7]

Collaboration and Competition are two keywords for the interaction among the players. The players enjoy the process of striving for a good balance between collaboration and Competition.

As Crumlish & Malone described in Designing social interfaces : principles, patterns, and practices for improving the user experience.

Competitive Spectrum can be used to describe a combination of things: the individual goals of community members, and to what degree those goals coexist peacefully or conflict; the actions that community members engage in, and to what degree those actions may impinge on the experiences of other community members, and to what degree person-to- person comparisons or contests are desired.[2]

The game developers have built many systems relying on two basic elements for creating the competitive spectrum: violence and reputation. Players make great achievement and gain equipment through collaborating with other players. How many achievement made and how much equipment earned do not only means your skill is good; it also means your reputation and social position in the virtual world of the game.

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Picture from http://www.duowan.com

As a popular MMORPG game, the business model of World of war craft follows the mainstream making use of point card and offline product market. Players need to buy point cards to get the permission to log in the game. Selling Strategy and authorization for toys comic and novels are also effective ways to make a fortune.

Reference:

1.Brianna Royce (2011): The Daily Grind:Will Pandaren lure you back to WoW? massively.joystiq.com

2.Christian Crumlish and Erin Malone(2009): Designing social interfaces : principles, patterns, and practices for improving the user experience. O’Reilly Media

3.Perez, Bien (2010): Warcraft to drive NetEase growth. South China Morning Post [1021-6731]

4. Cody (2013): World of Warcraft – AddOn Review – Super Guild Invite. codysgameworld.com

5. Malfurion Jadewood (2011):Mount value: phoenix. http://www.duowan.com

6.Nardi, Bonnie, and Justin Harris(2006): “Strangers and friends: Collaborative play in World of Warcraft.”Proceedings of the 2006 20th anniversary conference on Computer supported cooperative work. ACM.

7.Fall of the Lich King. http://eu.battle.net/wow/en/game/patch-notes/3-3

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