That was then, this is now, and now is all about a new set of answers in Ask Massively. This week, we're talking about the old standby of internet games, the games that were viral before "viral" was a thing: ARGs. If you've got a question for a future installment of the column, mail it to email@example.com or leave it in the comments below. Questions may be edited slightly for clarity and/or brevity.
Fienemannia asked: Why don't more games use ARGs for promotion like what The Secret World did?
Several reasons, the first being that they're only really appropriate for a handful of games. ARGs rely on something being almost real, just close enough to real for fake sites and videos to be somewhat believable. It's like the best creepypasta stories: The interesting part is that air of almost-truth. You can handle that with a game like The Secret World, which is meant to be very close to ours with the "all myths are true" caveat. It wouldn't work as well with, say, TERA.RingBonefield said: When I first installed Final Fantasy XI the better part of a decade ago, the first challenge I encountered was getting into the damned game.
Beyond that, there's the amount of work an ARG takes versus the overall rewards. A good ARG is like setting up the craziest scavenger hunt ever, one that expects people to be cross-referencing Wikipedia articles with random forum posts and suddenly realizing that a misspelling of "divide" ties back to a hint from three days earlier. You need to set up all of this, pay for all sorts of new sites, give players the means to find these clues, and then adapt on the fly to what happens when someone misses a crucial piece of information and all your players are looking at the site and clicking refresh in the hopes of catching something.
And not everyone is going to be wrapped up in an ARG. Speaking for myself, I love reading about them after the fact, but I pretty much clock out when I'm working through binomial equations in base 16 to find the URL for a YouTube video that will set me down another clue. I just want to get to the prize already.
In other words, it's a lot of extra effort that doesn't always actually serve well for marketing your game. So it's not always productive.
I actually have fond memories of the Trying To Install Final Fantasy XI night. Mostly because I'm pretty sure we left partway through and watched MST3K.Looking for some advice on which class is best for soloing in Aion? Not sure who this Raph Koster fellow is? Curious about the release date of NCsoft's newest MMO? You've come to the right place! No one knows MMOs like we do. If there's anything you'd like to know about the MMO genre or the site itself, Ask Massively is here to help every Thursday afternoon. Just ask!