Do MMORPGs really fit? (Chapter 17)

Posted on July 14, 2011


Even at the end of Chapter 17, I still have to admit that I am skeptical.  When I’ve discussed and studied social media, online gaming has not been part of the conversation.  Advertising–including product placement or ads in games–seems reasonable and similar to what they do in movies and on television.  I don’t consider either of those things “social media.”  Yes, players on Worlds of Warcraft and D&D are interacting with one another, but there is no interaction with businesses that are advertising on the game.  Blizzard Entertainment management declined an interview with Safko because they did not see a connection between their game and “social media’s trusted networks.”  I tend to agree.

Marketing affiliate and blogger Josh Todd does not agree.  In a post last year, he asked the question, “Were MMORPGs the First Social Media Platform?”  According to Todd, the reason that MMORPGs have such success and why people spend hours glued to their LCD screen is not because they are into the game, but because of their connection with other people.  Todd also cites Farmville as a current example of this social phenomenon.  (see blog at  For the record, I cannot stand Farmville and most other game apps on Facebook.  I block them whenever I get a request or invitation.

Social media?  I suppose.

Good place for advertising?  Why not.

A useful tool for a social media campaign?  Jury is still out.

How would or could one interact with their customers in a MMORPG game?  If gamers are as intent on the game as Safko and Todd suggest, they will probably barely notice an HP billboard or other ads in their game.  They certainly aren’t going to click-through to a website while they are playing WoW.  Encouraging brand recognition may be one of the only useful takeaways from MMORPG advertising.  Have I missed something or is there something missing from MMORPGs?