Just a day after requesting myself into the Great Games Experiment, I have been allowed to register. It being a limited Beta, I was able to snatch the popular Tony username, though you’ve got to be logged in to see anything but the front page. You’re not missing much though, the profiles are limited to a short description, and an aggregation of your comments, reviews, and friends.
I have browsed the site, looking at others who registered as Developers (alternativly you could choose to be a Gamer or a Publisher). It feels very MySpace’ish, minus the music and eye-burning CSS. “Top Developers”, “Top Friends”, users get to give each other ratings and kudos. There are also groups to join, create, and yes – rate in popularity. Groups appear to be limited to a single basic forum. So far there is nothing innovative.
The actual games also have profiles, very similar to the basic ones spotted by users. One could create a profile for any game (agreeing to hand over the moderation to the game’s developer upon request), and it’s off to the popularity contest arena. Comments, reviews.. Link to buy when applicable, and always a download link, even if there are none. Half-Life 2’s profile seems to be taking most of the trophy positions at the moment.
With just over 1000 game profiles, I suppose it is a way to discover something new to play. Search by Platform, Genre, and don’t forget to throw in the “free” tag to actually be able to play the game. I imagine the numbers would continue to grow as more participants sign up. The stats are mostly hidden, displaying just the most popular 120 Gamers and Developers, but there are only 2 Publishers registered: GarageGames itself, and apparently EA Games.
So far this all appears like MySpace, but just for games. I suppose one could try to create a profile for a popular game that hasn’t been claimed yet, and sneak in a link to a profile of your own game for some bonus exposure points. Otherwise I think this “social network” needs to offer something beyond a commenting system, to actually benifit video game developers.
Or I could be wrong, and some will find peer support and exposure for their Dream Videogame in the making. I have two invites to give out for anyone interested – leave a comment.