Positive relationships increase competitive success in massively multiplayer online games. Games and brands can more effectively target players who are friends and schedule campaign sessions together.
Friendships have a significant impact on individual and team performance in complex competitive environments. Researchers sought to quantify this effect by using a massively multiplayer online first person shooter (MMOFPS) as a model system in their report “Friends FTW! Friendship and competition in Halo: Reach.”They combined in-game behavioral data with participant survey data to study the effect. “Friendships significantly improve both individual and team performance in these complex competitive environments.” More likely to win, individuals play better the more friends they play with. Game developers and brands alike can benefit from this connection to better target their audience and encourage friends to play the same game together.
Relationships make a team more powerful, and supersede game pairings in loyalty
The more friends on one’s team, the more they assist others and the less they betray their teammates. Players actively adjust their play based on their friendships - players are motivated to maintain relationships more than are motivated to maintain harmony within current team. For example, if a few friends are placed by the game’s matchmaking algorithm into an opposing team, opponent betrayal levels increase. If the opposing team is made entirely of friends, though, betrayals decrease to normal levels. “Having friends on one’s team has a real and direct positive effect on one’s own performance.” Loyalty introduces another factor upon which games can and do more effectively leverage the potential of social gameplay.
Online patterns reveal the underlying social graph of MMO gameplay
Since players schedule Halo: Reach sessions around when they can play with friends, looking at the in-game behavioral data should be enough to predict friendships the study says. It was shown that players try to meet up at the same time of day or day of the week, and data indicated that one friend’s gamertag often appeared in other players’ game files in patterns. If this data were made available, social graph targeting would be possible. Even without it, marketers could infer which teammates are friends based on gameplay. The researchers showed such links could be guessed by performance - the three most important parameters in predicting which team will win are the team’s expertise, the opponent’s team expertise and how many friends are on the team.