Woke up at 5.30 am, after dozing off last night without having dinner. Torrential rain pouring when I woke up but it's stopped now. Random browsing. Finally saw that Judd Apatow "Backlash" video that's been in an Opera browser tab for >1 month - shameless, self-aware viral marketing... lol. i think.
Came across an great post on another gaming site, "Player vs. Everything: When will the players leave WoW?", discussing why people aren't going to be leaving WoW anytime soon.
Interesting how the social aspect - in this case networks of friends from all over the net - is such a big factor in the "stickiness" of these games, whereas before it was completely based on the gameplay. It makes it much harder for rivals to make a significant dent in the market. Not only does your game need to be much more compelling, but you need to factor in that networking aspect, which goes beyond coding wizardry or eye candy. You can't just fix pain points, or be slightly better. You have to make it compelling enough not just for one new player, but all that player's friends to play and stay with your game.
If you have a new player, how do you make it easy for them to move over as much of their current network to your game? Signup bonuses? Almost-free copies of the game, which you can't really play standalone? (I think WoW already have this?) In-game equivalents of pyramid schemes? Those horrible Facebook apps do it by spamming everyone you know - actually, it's not the app, it's you doing the spamming! But how the hell will that apply to a MMOG?
It's quite similar to the stickiness of the current "web 2.0" hotspots like MySpace, YouTube... once you've built up relationships and conversations in one area, it'll be very difficult to get out and start anew, since you've built up all this content and would be loath to just throw it all away. Social networks are the new vendor lock-in. (yes, someone else came up with that)
The only sites I can think of that make it a bit easy to migrate are the blogs, but mainly because the content is fairly generic (text, tags, comments!) and easily restructrured. I can't see this model ever being applied to games - "Why sure, we'll let you move on to another MMO, no probs!" OpenSocial for MMOGs, anyone? Of course, the question here becomes: is there anything at all that is portable across different games?