Charlene Li, an analyst who covers blogs for Forrester Research, believes that the first major game platform to incorporate blogs will be Microsoft’s Xbox, given that “community” has been part of its design since it launched, with Xbox Live, and user identification tags that work across different games.
Representatives of Xbox and Playstation didn’t respond to interview requests by press time.
Ultimately, whether or not designers incorporate blogs into videogames may come down to whether it’s enough of a draw to encourage sales.
“The reason we don’t have more community elements like blogs in games is because the publishers haven’t figured out how to harness it and make money off of it,” says Li.
But with more videogames these days selling advertising through electronic billboards that dot the game’s virtual landscape or by selling the right to play a band’s song during game play, it’s not too big of a leap to try and sell advertisements around an in-game blog. Everquest even bridged the virtual and real recently when it included a feature that allows users to order Pizza Hut pizza from within the game and have it delivered.
Of course, videogames and blogs do have a bit of a checkered past. In late 2003, Electronic Arts, maker of The Sims, banned a user of the popular game after that user’s blog told of some of the unseemly activities – such as virtual prostitution – happening within the game’s confines. Bringing blogs within a game’s walls may make the line between free game play and policed game play a little blurrier.
Zjaba of Tomorrow’s Heroes says that when he was trying to sell items on his site, he found the cheapest form of advertising was to create compelling content on his site, which drew traffic better than any ad campaign he tried.
Everyone contacted for this article expressed interest in seeing more game-specific or within-game blogs. While it may be awhile before we see blogs within games, one thing’s for certain: there’s plenty of room for them and, well, there’s interest in blogging.
“Video game blogs are on the rise,” says Swofford. “The segment is growing.”