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[Column] General: Virality and Hype

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,585MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

One thing that every game maker wants for their creation is virality, that word of mouth phenomenon that creates legends out of things that might not ever be. In today's Devil's Advocate, we take a look at virality and its stepsister, hype. See what we've got to say before hopping into the comments to voice your ideas.

Virality is actually comprised of a bunch of different factors, but the basic idea is that the more something gets shared over a set period of time to a larger group of people, the more viral an item is. There are a number of ways to increase virality, but one of the basic ideas behind it is that when we see something we like or respond to in a manner that elicits sharing, we want to be able to share it in as painless a manner as possible.

Read more of Victor Barreiro Jr.'s The Devil's Advocate: Virality and Hype.

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Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
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Comments

  • erictlewiserictlewis Cottondale, ALPosts: 3,026Member Uncommon

    This entire site is based of viral hype. After all the more something gets hyped the better it is. Just take a look at the last couple of articles about top games, and how they were being hyped. Most folks in those threads were rejecting the hype on a few of them.

    Lets face it we all come to this site looking for the latest hype, or info on games that we love, hate, and are looking forward too.

  • ThorkuneThorkune Eastern, KYPosts: 1,828Member Uncommon
    I cannot figure out why I can't get into GW2. I log in and play for about 5 minutes and I log back out for a week or so...and try it again the next week. I really want to like it since it is a no subscription AAA.
  • meddyckmeddyck Athens, GAPosts: 1,140Member Uncommon
    Maybe it's a lot simpler than all of that. Maybe Diablo 3 and GW 2 just aren't that good. That's why many people including me played them intensively for a few weeks or months and now can't stomach the idea of even logging in.

    Camelot Unchained Backer
    DAOC [retired]: R11 Cleric R11 Druid R11 Minstrel R9 Eldritch R6 Sorc R6 Scout R5 Healer

  • BattlerockBattlerock Youngstown, OHPosts: 1,393Member

    I have said these same things over and over. One thing to note to is that we live in an instant society where we need to have things now. That has become something more noticable in the past 5 or so years.

    I'm going to use wow becuase most have played and perhaps many wow was thier first mmorpg. The instant mentality did not present itself in wow, it was all new, each and every time you logged it it was new. Now...... fast forward 2013 we all know what an mmorpg is, we all now the routine, we all know there is crafting, leveling, pvp, dungeons, and blah blah blah, Yes some do it different then others and some leave out things and yadayadayada. The bottom line is we all have an expectation of what an mmorpg is to be. I'm afraid most of us want that same engaging feeling when it was all new and we want it now, and that's just not a reality.

    This leads to the question, what do you expect in an mmorpg?

    Right now for me..... Leveling can go out the window. Peopel should be able to log and have the capability to do anything anyone else can do at any given point in time. Why does wow live on ? Well... people do not need to level but a few levels to get capped and begin the real game. Despite the fact that it takes forever to get geared after you reach level cap, it feels like your close to reaching your goals once you know you don't have to level anymore.

     

     

     

     

  • victorbjrvictorbjr Quezon CityPosts: 185Member Uncommon

    Good evening folks.

     

    Just a couple of things. 

     

    1. In the paragraph right before the No Sweeping Gestures portion, I wrote, "That's one problem with MMORPGs today. They are marketed for virality and hype, and ultimately set up for higher heights upon which to fall from grace.' I'm not calling virality and hype problems here, but rather, I feel there's a problem with marketing games in this day and age. Apologies for any confusion!

     

    2. Meddyck writes, "Maybe Diablo 3 and GW 2 just aren't that good. That's why many people including me played them intensively for a few weeks or months and now can't stomach the idea of even logging in."

    Like it or not, that's sort of the point. The creation of high expectations and then the lack of continuing virality and and a means to justify the hype (such as through a lack of compelling content to advertise and keep people intrigued) can sometimes make things look sucky, even when the games themselves aren't actually bad.

    Thats how I feel about WoW and GW2, for example. :)

    A writer and gamer from the Philippines. Loves his mom dearly. :)

    Can also be found on http://www.gamesandgeekery.com

  • victorbjrvictorbjr Quezon CityPosts: 185Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by erictlewis

    This entire site is based of viral hype. After all the more something gets hyped the better it is. Just take a look at the last couple of articles about top games, and how they were being hyped. Most folks in those threads were rejecting the hype on a few of them.

    Lets face it we all come to this site looking for the latest hype, or info on games that we love, hate, and are looking forward too.

     

    Excellent point! One thing I will point out though is that there's a difference between providing people with information and then creating hype. 

    MMORPG.com is sort of active in doing both, and I admit I am guilty of the same. I know that inasmuch as my TSW column is trying to parse information, for example, I also sometimes fall into the trap of my biases or the attention TSW is getting, such as when I wrote my "Darkest Evening of the Year" TSW post.

    A writer and gamer from the Philippines. Loves his mom dearly. :)

    Can also be found on http://www.gamesandgeekery.com

  • risenbonesrisenbones Galesburg, ILPosts: 194Member

    This meh feeling your describng sounds like something more than just the game was overhyped.  A couple of responces where someone admits they played the game intently for a while and now they just can't seem to log in anymore.

     

    It reminds me of the old saying/adage familiarity breeds contempt.  That is you have played the game intently over a relativly short amount of time. You feel you have done what you want to do and know whats coming.  Suddenly your looking at what you have spent your time with and what other things you could of spent the time doing.  Niggles you previously ignored start to leap out at you and your priorities shift to things you missed while you devoted yourself to the game.  Now logging in becomes a chore and eventually you reach the stage of contempt.

     

    Guess what your not alone I have done this to a few games myself.  I had lots of time on my hands and spent alot of it playing a game till I eventually got bored of it and found myself not logging in every day and being bored when I eventually did log in.  Now I have a job so I have less time to spend playing a game and so when I do play a game it's not as intence and as a result the games I do play tend to last longer.

     

    Thats enough phyco analysis from me and do note I have no actual phycological training so take my words with a big dose of salt couse I may be totally wrong.

    The lesser of two evils is still evil.

    There is nothing more dangerous than a true believer.

  • CypeqCypeq TychyPosts: 66Member

    Excellent posts folks I always read this column and replies with pleasure.

    As for Hype and viral marketing they are just tools but a very powerful ones at that.

    When used with skill they can create illusion of greatness and need/hunger of joining in to the event which may be anything. This seem to work best when hype is build on unreleased product which isn't fully tested or reviewed thus hype can hang securely on just expectation of greatness.

    Good example would be release of Diablo 3 the game which may be seen as disappointment only because it didn't shine as 10/10 everywhere but who's to blame there developers ? or maybe marketing ? or maybe even players who get driven into hype increasing expectations above what is reality. Game in itself is just great Hack'n'Slash because that's what it is and it's the most fun at that from any title in this genre I know. The quality was there but fable greatness was  lacking.

    Ask yourself why do we want to believe in this marketing fables so much ?

    @risenbones I can relate quite a lot to what you said.

    Mainly about this logging in being a chore. There is always something about a game that makes it fun to play and a moment in life that you notice that the fun factor became so small now that watching new tv show feels like time better spent. I stopped playing WoW because as you said I knew what to expect. With repetition of that I just kept feeling that fun factor diminishes with every week I play some things that was mediocre started becoming a chore for me and very fun stuff like heroics or raids were just meh.

    So there is that magical Fun factor that keeps u engaged and I find this amazing because it's different for everyone I met people absolutely loving and playing for years in games that for me are just horrible d grade piece of s*** to put it lightly. But it is fun for them you can't hold this against anyone... unless he finds that breaking laws is fun.

    I think for me biggest fun factor is constant improvement and learning new stuff in games as in life so as I love many genres I tend to stick around longest hours with those like DotA.

    What make is most fun for you guys ?

     

    fixed spelling xd

  • SovrathSovrath Boston Area, MAPosts: 18,452Member Uncommon

    The way I look at it is companies have to advertise. What's more, if they have investors  they need to do whatever they can to build hype and get people buying. If they don't they can get sued for not doing whatever they could to get a return on the investors' money.

    It's up to players to be responsible consumers, do their due dilligence and not approach every game like a kid on christmas morning.

    It's nice to get excited about things but it's also nice to approach the world with eyes wide open and realize that in the end you are responsible for your own well  being. And wallet.

     
  • bcbullybcbully Westland, MIPosts: 8,271Member Uncommon

    Can I call you sometimes and talk about mmorpgs? 

     

    I have a friend, hell probably best friend that I talk sports with. We never agree on anything talked about, but our conversation is governed by the "understood." 

  • bookworm438bookworm438 Detroit, MIPosts: 647Member

    I'm betting the virality and hype plays a factor, but I don't think that's the cause.

    I think the biggest problem people have today is that they are trying to reclaim that feeling they got from their first MMO, whether that's EQ, WoW, whatever. While you can get feelings similar to your first MMO (honeymoon period), eventually you realize that this game isn't your first MMO.

    I'm willing to bet that if you made an exact copy of someone's first MMO, called it something else, and just updated the graphics, they still wouldn't be able to play for more than a month or two. 

  • zomard100zomard100 karlovacPosts: 228Member
    I know why Hype doesent work :) Simple as that--You need to make  better WOW clone from WOW, people don't want sandbox, people don't want games without leveling and questing. People want another new  wow clone with better graphic and better story. What they need from sandbox is maybe to build houses, nothing more and nothing less.  Numbers speaks in favor of classic mmorpg's with questing and leveling. Make another WOW with Arch Age graphic and it will take players from old wow.  I tried almost all hyped games and i was back to my favorite 4-5 titles all the time. I leveled almost all classes in wow, that was not the case in any other mmo, max was 1 class and over. Can't you guys understand that  we have maybe 5% of wow players posting on forums, rest of people here are in search for new game, i could easy say neverending search. That is the reason why Hype doesent work. When you make one superb and excellent game like Blizzard did you need much much time  to find replacement.
  • AlBQuirkyAlBQuirky Sioux City, IAPosts: 3,828Member


    Originally posted by Sovrath
    The way I look at it is companies have to advertise. What's more, if they have investors  they need to do whatever they can to build hype and get people buying. If they don't they can get sued for not doing whatever they could to get a return on the investors' money.It's up to players to be responsible consumers, do their due dilligence and not approach every game like a kid on christmas morning.It's nice to get excited about things but it's also nice to approach the world with eyes wide open and realize that in the end you are responsible for your own well  being. And wallet.
    Very well stated and to the point. I could not agree more with you on this.

    - Al

    Personally the only modern MMORPG trend that annoys me is the idea that MMOs need to be designed in a way to attract people who don't actually like MMOs. Which to me makes about as much sense as someone trying to figure out a way to get vegetarians to eat at their steakhouse.
    - FARGIN_WAR

  • CypeqCypeq TychyPosts: 66Member
    Originally posted by AlBQuirky

     


    Originally posted by Sovrath
    The way I look at it is companies have to advertise. What's more, if they have investors  they need to do whatever they can to build hype and get people buying. If they don't they can get sued for not doing whatever they could to get a return on the investors' money.

     

    It's up to players to be responsible consumers, do their due dilligence and not approach every game like a kid on christmas morning.

    It's nice to get excited about things but it's also nice to approach the world with eyes wide open and realize that in the end you are responsible for your own well  being. And wallet.


    Very well stated and to the point. I could not agree more with you on this.

     

     

    That's very optimistic thinking about us humans so highly but the truth is we follow hype like sheep. Comming back at D3 or GW2 just go and check sales at first 3 days and preoders numbers go in milions and it's all thanks to well planned marketing. I don't find it a big problem when marketing and developers deliver what they said... but this kind of trust spawned something like WarZ because people think they can buy stuff on hype without checking reviews and always expect top notch quality. Last time I've seen the numbers ScamZ scored +600,000 buyers but don't quote me on that :P

     
  • ZoeMcCloskeyZoeMcCloskey Phoenix, AZPosts: 1,146Member Uncommon
    Analysis is fun.

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  • TorvalTorval Oregon CountryPosts: 7,195Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by victorbjr
    Originally posted by erictlewis

    This entire site is based of viral hype. After all the more something gets hyped the better it is. Just take a look at the last couple of articles about top games, and how they were being hyped. Most folks in those threads were rejecting the hype on a few of them.

    Lets face it we all come to this site looking for the latest hype, or info on games that we love, hate, and are looking forward too.

     

    Excellent point! One thing I will point out though is that there's a difference between providing people with information and then creating hype. 

    MMORPG.com is sort of active in doing both, and I admit I am guilty of the same. I know that inasmuch as my TSW column is trying to parse information, for example, I also sometimes fall into the trap of my biases or the attention TSW is getting, such as when I wrote my "Darkest Evening of the Year" TSW post.

    A couple counterpoints becuse I disagree with your conclusions.  I'm at work and so had to speed read the article, so if I missed something I'll go back and read it later.

    This, and pretty much any other gaming site, doesn't just provide information.  MSDN provides information in its .NET API reference.  Wikipedia provides information.  Whitepapers provide information.  Gaming sites hype up information and generate buzz to keep visitors returning and clicking.  There is nothing wrong with that in my opinion.  It offers us as users the opportunity to get excited about what you're reporting.

    Second I disagree with how you put the onus of the problem on the hype generators.  Hype is only as powerful as the person receiving it and people need to be held accountable for their own expectations and emotions.  If you feel sad, happy, mad, indignant, elated, and anything else on the emotional spectrum you're responsible for that, not some external force.  It's how you choose to respond to the event and stimulus.  If you generate expectations based on how you interpret the buzz then you are solely responsible for that.

    The hype problem is solved by individuals managing themselves and taking responsiblity for how they react and being accountable for that.

  • maplestonemaplestone Ottawa, ONPosts: 3,099Member

    Alas, as methods of engineering viral hype become more successful, it inevitably undermines the value of real honest-to-goodness positive word of mouth.

  • Ashar1972Ashar1972 BrisbanePosts: 12Member
    Originally posted by AlBQuirky

     


    Originally posted by Sovrath
    The way I look at it is companies have to advertise. What's more, if they have investors  they need to do whatever they can to build hype and get people buying. If they don't they can get sued for not doing whatever they could to get a return on the investors' money.

     

    It's up to players to be responsible consumers, do their due dilligence and not approach every game like a kid on christmas morning.

    It's nice to get excited about things but it's also nice to approach the world with eyes wide open and realize that in the end you are responsible for your own well  being. And wallet.


    Very well stated and to the point. I could not agree more with you on this.

     

    Couldn't disagree more with you both.

     

    When I was working in marketing and advertising back in the late 80's it used to be a fairly well understood maxim "The more advertising, the less quality..." and words to that effect. You state "companies have to advertise" yet there are millions who don't advertise at all in the way we are talking about here. Most of those rely on word of mouth, or are intergrated enough into their market that advertising is just a waste of money. Rather than coercion by force of sensory bombardment, many, many companies around the world just provide quality goods, and are know for it.

     

    I am not arguing that your statement is inaccurate because there is no case for advertising and marketing, but that it is inaccurate because it is contrary to the lived experience of many companies around the world. Will MMORPG abandon their model? Why should they, their customers, no matter how temporary, are behaving just how they want them, and as the journalists that report about them get caught up in the hype and bias just as much as the customers, abondoning any critical thinking, but that is another story.

  • VancePantsVancePants Los Angeles, CAPosts: 43Member

    Well written article. Basically everyone has their own opinion, communication is subjective, and marketers that can successfully blur the line between hype and virality are powerful indeed.

    I feel like the best indicator of quality and subtance comes over time (although this is also relative). Wait and see what happens to Diablo III a month after release, or check out Gangnam Style after it's generated 50 million views... once something has crossed that gray line from hype into virality you're more likely to find a really polished finish product.

    :D

  • VyntVynt Glendale, CAPosts: 632Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by bookworm438

    I'm betting the virality and hype plays a factor, but I don't think that's the cause.

    I think the biggest problem people have today is that they are trying to reclaim that feeling they got from their first MMO, whether that's EQ, WoW, whatever. While you can get feelings similar to your first MMO (honeymoon period), eventually you realize that this game isn't your first MMO.

    I'm willing to bet that if you made an exact copy of someone's first MMO, called it something else, and just updated the graphics, they still wouldn't be able to play for more than a month or two. 

    I just don't buy that argument. My first 2 MMOs were ok for me, my 3rd, EQ1, I loved, played for a long time, then my 4th, DAoC I loved even more, my all time favorite. Several MMOs later, I played WoW for a while and really enjoyed that.

    I've gone back to EQ and daoc and enjoyed long stints there, longer than I spend in any new game released today. The main reason I don't still play daoc is because they changed it drastically with an expansion (TOA), so it is not the same. I did go back for a year or so when they had a classic server. I also can't stand the movement in that game compared to modern games, but I put up with it when there was a non ToA server because the game was just awesome.

    I did do the progression server in EQ1 for a good 6+ months, probably would have stayed longer, but went on vacation, and a month later, just had no desire to log on. Had a blast though. I would absolutely love a graphics upgrades of both those games.

    I've actually been tempted to start fresh on a normal server in EQ1. Probably will once I have more free time to start it up.

  • -Zeno--Zeno- Zion, TNPosts: 1,298Member Common
    Players hyping something is totally diffrent than studio's.  Darkfall is a good example of this.  They were happy with the Steam Greenlit, then went back to buisness (beta).  The players themselves went crazy.  So fan hype is diffrent than developer hype.  Would you rather have developers working on their game (like Darfall) or would you rather have them hyping that game (like GW2)?

    The definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.

  • PurutzilPurutzil East Stroudsburg, PAPosts: 2,924Member Uncommon

    How dare you call GW2 and D3 overhyped and all and point that out and...

     

    Yeah, same with D3, got a refund on GW2 though. Over-rated and over-hyped gets dule quick. When you pay for something you don't even realize it hasn't lived up to your standerds quickly like a sub game which helps to keep a 'it was alright' feel until you realize "Wait.... I never even play it or have a desire to play it again" feel.

  • CavatiMucroCavatiMucro Canby, ORPosts: 3Member

    I'm not sure that the average person knows what ennui means but I gurantee that dissatisfaction would have been a better choice to get your point across to the average reader.

     

    That being said I think that hype and virality both have some truth behind them. Like the old saying every rumor has some truth behind it, hype does as well. Gamers hype a game because they are interested in it's success and want others to be interested as well. I'm not sure that hype is a bad thing because it gets the game's name out there for others to check out. There are many games that should be more hyped but aren't hyped enough. Gamers just want to be entertained but can't be if they never hear about a game. If hype introduced a gamer to their favorite game that they would have otherwise overlooked then it is being used correctly. If it used by companies to increase their initial sales before gamers learn that they have a bought terd with a fresh coat of paint, then hype is being used incorrectly. Either way hype is not always a bad thing. Let companies and people hype all they like and let the gamers make the choice on rather to buy a game or not.

     
  • Bob_BlawblawBob_Blawblaw Montreal, QCPosts: 1,278Member
    I find it absolutely hilarious that this article was published on mmorpg.com!
  • someforumguysomeforumguy HomePosts: 3,538Member Uncommon

    My impression is that the not so savvy marketeers are usually not marketeers in this industry.

    Often I saw lead devs or producers who didn't know when to shut up. Or are just very clumsy with words, not seeing the traps they are setting for themselves.

    Although with some ads for big release the past years, I got the impression that they outsourced this to some generic ad company that only knows how to use hyperbole in their ads.

    But then, I see many MMO players also as gullible enough to fall for this advertising :p So in some way it works I guess. The products sell and even though the shelflife is shorter then intended and the profits are less then expected, they still make a profit. And this cycle seems to keep repeating itself.

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