Do fansites reflect the games and their communities?

I’ve been working with fansites for various MMO games for the past two years and as of late I’ve had to survey the internet for fansites for various upcoming MMO games. As I searched for established and successful fansites for the newest crop of AAA titles I discovered something: Different game communities have stronger fansite communities than others. Now this may sound very obvious and nothing new, it really made me think if the quality of fansites is in direct relation to the quality and/or strength of the MMO community. I also wonder if the quality of fansites for the game reflects the amount of hype for the yet to be released MMOs.

What I thought particularly interesting is that it seemed to be all or nothing: Either a game’s fansite collection was poorly developed or the game’s fansite collection was strong. Perhaps someone comes in near the beginning and makes a strong fansite and then out of competition others crop up and set the bar higher. This cycle could continue until you get the behemoth fansites that are in the top 300k Alexa rankings and have thousands of users. Maybe the fansites for the other games have not done this yet and the talented community members have not chosen to step up and create the next big fansite? These are all questions running through my head, and perhaps you could tell me your thoughts.

I’ve noticed that the sites with lacking fansites usually have released barely any information on the game and they are still in very closed beta or haven’t began their beta at all. This makes me think that there isn’t enough information out for people to be inspired to create new fansites that will set the bar higher and create this sort of inter-fansite competition. Vanguard would be an example of a game that would go against this idea, though, as it had a very strong fansite community for years before the game released and Vanguard had a very strict NDA that lasted until 3 weeks before the game released. I would probably attribute Vanguard’s strong following and fansite presence because of the all-star development team that supported the game and Brad’s and Keith Parkinson’s icon status.

Why do you think games tend to have strong fansite communities or poor fansite communities, and nothing in the middle? Please tell me what you think in the comments as I’m still fairly new to the fansite community and I’m interested to see what others have to say about this. I’ve been thinking about this for the past couple weeks and would like other’s insight :)

Thanks,

Sam

  • http://www.adelecaelia.wordpress.com Adele

    Yes of course, and fansites have way more success with the game company backing them and helping out. Although some games have such great community managers that everyone hangs out on their forums (see PotBS) No need to go to a fan site because FLS is always there for the community.

  • http://www.qforq.com/blog QforQ

    A gaming company can’t provide everything for the user. I highly doubt Flying Labs will be providing guides for levels, abilities, fighting, etc. They wont have information on where to go for X item and I doubt they will have any sort of market websites(which I think could do very well with POTBS) like they have with FFXI where it lists what items are listed and for what. I appreciate how active FLS is with their community, but they need to get outside of their website and start working with fansites/websites.

  • http://www.aboutvanguard.com Navid_Lumio

    Nice post Q

    Another thing I realized is that fansites are as only as good as A. the quality of the game or B. how many subscribers it has.

    If the game is of high quality and players are dedicated. THen you see nice fansites

    if there are many subscribers, then you WILL see good fansites

  • http://www.qforq.com/blog QforQ

    I only agree to a point because if the game is good and has tons of subscribers the chance of there being good dedicated web designers out there.

    Otherwise I dont think that is true, just look at The Matrix Online fansites for an example. That game at it’s peak had 43k subs and had very bad reviews and it had some of the best fansites I’ve seen.

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