[MUD-Dev] When Player Communities Rebel / Fanbois Gone Rogue

vladimir cole vladimir_cole at yahoo.com
Wed May 28 15:25:49 New Zealand Standard Time 2003


This may be a little inside-baseballish for of you, but I'm still
interested in your take on it and wondering if there's historical
precedent for it. Got a few other questions that to follow as well.

  Background: Like any MUD these days, EQ has an extensive online
  presence generated entirely by its playerbase. The mass of content
  and applications that players have written about the game for the
  benefit of other players and for the purposes of guild management
  is pretty astounding.

Some of this content is so popular, useful or entertaining that
fansites started by humble players end up turning into real revenue
for their founders (e.g., eq.crgaming.com) and even jobs in the
gaming industry.

  Situation: Well what can the managers of a game do when one of the
  most popular fansites goes rogue?

That's exactly what happened over the last couple of weeks with the
website of one of Everquest's top guilds when the leader of that
guild delivered an ultimatum: "fix this content to my liking or
you've got a PR nightmare on your hands."

Wisely, he was ignored. But unfortunately, because of the tremendous
traffic his site gets, this is actually a threat with some teeth to
it.  (See http://www.fohguild.org) It's a PR nightmare of huge
proportions when one of the top three fansites in the game goes on a
crusade against your product.

  Can game makers do anything to mollify this sort of rabid
  anti-fan?

What's the best response to this sort of issue? It seems that it
would be extremely detrimental for any game's guardians to deign to
respond to such childish threats. Are there best practices for
dealing with online boycotts and community rebellions?

And (just to flip it around) should game marketers actively court
the top fans of their competitors in attempts to score marketing
coups like this? This has to rank as one of Blizzard's best
advertising campaigns to date on a dollar for mindshare basis, even
if it is accidental.

- vlad
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