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purses) and, more impressively, several thousand fan-created modules for
Dragon Age: Origins . These range from the lurid (“Sappho's Daughters”) to
the unexpected (“Little Red Riding Hood Redux”) to the near-professional level
(“Kal-Sharok: The Crumbling City.”) The site is interesting due to the rabid fan-
base, if not for the significant numbers they draw.
Bioware followed Dragon Age by releasing Dragon Age 2 along with Dragon
Age Legends , a Facebook and Google+ companion product to the franchise
that offers users a chance to play in a more social setting. (The retail game
offered only a single-player campaign including deep conversation and tacti-
cal combat-heavy experience with thousands of lines of spoken dialog and
hours of in-game cut scenes.) Dragon Age Legends instead allows users to play
a strategy RPG in which successes unlock unique items within Dragon Age 2 .
Interestingly, Dragon Age 2 seems almost to completely ignore the Bioware
Social Network concept, which implies that Bioware has more or less aban-
doned their effort at social network creation.
Beyond the somewhat dubious claim of being “The First Real Game on
Facebook,” Dragon Age Legends offers some basic character customization
and an overall flavor of gameplay designed to appeal to fans of the primary
product line. Players can kill monsters in a simple tactical model, collect trea-
sures, and level up their characters. The game uses a dual-currency system,
and attempts to offer fans the opportunity to stay in the Dragon Age universe
even when playing on Facebook. A mobile version of the game quickly fol-
lowed. Although the games have never reached the number of users that
would put them in the realm of true “successes,” they proved nicely that
social networking and mobile tie-in products can be used to extend even the
least social of game franchises by raising brand awareness and creating addi-
tional user investment in the world of the game.
6.8 Creating Social Networks as a Platform Holder
Not wanting to be left out in the cold, a few companies with platforms of their
own have tried to harvest some of the fruits of the social network trees and
integrate these features into their own platforms. The goal has seemingly been
to find a way of creating a meta-social network that sits above all games on
the particular publisher's system. Microsoft's Xbox Live! system is the best
example of this, followed by Apple's Game Center. Let's look at each to see
what we can learn about the core components of an effective social network
so that we can better adopt our games to take advantage of the most important
key features.
Microsoft was the first of the console or mobile manufacturers to realize that
in order to create a truly sticky experience, they needed to layer social features
on top of their existing console games. Learning from their fledgling efforts with
the early Xbox Live! service, they've evolved into providing a robust online
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