Mostly Everything

Starcraft II can teach us a bit about community, co-creation, and platforms

Back from IMMAP. It was great to see everyone. And I mean everyone — everywhere my heard turned, there was always a familiar face. After sitting in some of the talks and ‘browsing around’ I figured I’d write a little commentary, more like an addendum to my views on Internet marketing.

in a way, this can also serve as an appendix to my insights during the blog marketing panel. It sounded like I was ranting my head off. i apologize for that.

We give huge importance to the conversation that goes on in Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. What many marketing companies do is learn to utilize these sites, sometimes even exploit them (i.e. the dreaded “like” campaign), it seems that not a lot of importance is given towards building the actual platforms where the community converge. Facebook and Twitter are two examples of these platforms.

Wouldn’t you want to be the company that develops the next killer platform? It doesn’t even need to be a website. A platform is a venue where the spirit of co-creation takes place. Where users are given as much power as developers to build.

Starcraft II is one of the best examples.

Defense of the Ancients is one of the most popular multiplayer games of all time on the PC. It’s played in ALL Internet cafes. The odd thing about DOtA is that it isn’t even a standalone game, but a modification for Warcraft III by Blizzard Entertainment.

This isn’t an accident. Blizzard included a very customizable map editor allowing players to create their own scenarios, maps and units and essentially build their own “game within a game.” Since Starcraft II is the spiritual successor to Warcraft III, Blizzard built a more extensive “Galaxy Editor” allowing players to build even more creative games. So far we’ve seen user generated mods for Final Fantasy, Plants vs. Zombies and a new and improved Defense of the Ancients, titled

Plants vs Zombies Mod: “Guys vs Aliens”

Final Fantasy

Multiplayer Tower Defense Mod

DOtA: Storm of the Imperial Sanctum

It’s barely been a month since release, but so many mods are now already available for others to download and use.

One of the tricky things about developing the next platform is that it should be brand neutral, meaning although advertising can be a sustainable business model for it, it shouldn’t favor any one brand. Which is why many companies that try to build their own “social sites” fail.

Starcraft II succeeds because the world editor gives you as much control as the game designers to build entirely new games. It’s win-win: Blizzard finds a creative way to combat piracy (custom games are stored in their central server and you need to have an original game to play it), and the community has more fun!