It seems there are two major developments that have been steadily spreading across the gaming landscape:
- While video and web games are increasingly becoming social, functionality and solutions are gearing towards a multi-platform framework.
- Extending and enhancing of gameplay via real integration of web and console experience.
Players are not just into gaming because of the play, but also the social relations formed in the course of the play. It’s no longer news that social interfaces proliferate game play, such as chat windows, profile pages, group quests, multiplayer modes, and the like. But as more and more users play different games on different platforms, the need to be able to connect, communicate, and even play across networks and platforms become stronger. The more social games become, the more will gamers gravitate towards functionality and solutions that offer the best utility in terms of community, communication, and multi-platform integration.
One good example of a social and multi-platform framework is Raptr, the cross-social gaming tool. It reflects the ongoing popularity and acceptance of activity streaming in social networks and how it can be incorpoated in games. Raptr asks “‘What are you playing?” and wants to let the world know about it. It lets you connect with your gaming friends and see what the others are playing; join your friends in-game (for online games); share and compare achievements; give recommendations. Raptr just launched its multi-network IM service for gaming. This IM client allows you to chat on the top IM services (AIM, Yahoo, MSN, Google Talk, Xfire, ICQ, and Facebook Chat).
There’s also TweetCraft, an in-game Twitter client for WoW that lets you send and receive Tweets within a game, including screenshots of your game experience. You can set-up auto-tweets for events like logging in, entering instances and earning achievements — all cool features that let you brag to the world your supremacy in WoW.
Aggregating gaming activities across web, console and desktop platforms is one flow. The other is the real server integration to merge web and console experience. There are many examples of website community platforms complementing the game in terms of providing information, extending the story behind the game, and serving as a venue to gather outside the console environment. However, I don’t think there are a lot of samples of extensive game server integration done with communtity sites. The only one I can be really sure of (as I’ve worked on the project) is Killzone.com. ( If you know of other examples, please pass the info 😉 )
Killzone.com is built on a framework that allows it to communicate in real time with the game servers. This allows functionality that facilitate fluid gaming experience between the console to the web transforming Killzone.com and Killzone 2 into interconnected entities. Gamers can set up clan challenges and tournaments via the site and vice-versa. Leaderboards for clan and tournaments are continuously updated on the website. They can create and maintain profiles online that reflect their in-game accomplishments, such as rank and awarded ribbons and medals.
The evolution and convergence of Killzone.com with Killzone 2 is a huge accomplishment in innovative interactive experience in console-based first-person shooter games. It’s not common at all to have a web-based community platform fully integrated into the console gaming experience. I’m hoping we’ll have more of these initiatives in the near-future.