Beyond amazing character design, compelling narratives, and the presence of dragons
, there is one thing that all MMOs depend upon for success: player loyalty. Without returning subscribers, a loving community, or folks dropping a few dimes in the cash shop now and again, MMOs simply wouldn't be a feasible way for a games studio to do business. Smart development teams have player retention
departments tasked specifically with tracking and analyzing the rise and fall of player allegiances and finding ways to leverage loyalty is becoming an increasingly important aspect of the creation process.
Even the non-gaming world is getting in on the fray. Back in November, researchers at the University at Buffalo School of Management published a study
tracing the roots of player loyalties in a variety of MMO environments. The study outlined the mentalities of MMO gamers and the things that successfully encouraged them to keep coming back for more looting, more grinding, and more /hugging
. Most importantly, the study declared that an MMO that increases loyalty by just 5% can increase profits by 25-95%.
We sat down with Dr. Lawrence Sanders
, co-author of the study, to dive a little deeper into the researchers' methods, results, and plans for future MMO investigation.