I'm going to do something I haven't done in a while, write an editorial. Usually mine are slightly negative and trying to shed light on something I think needs to be looked at, but in this case I want to shed light on something I think is going to have a profoundly positive impact on Confrontation.
Encouraging clan play is one of the best things they could have done for SOCOM Confrontation. First of all, if you aren’t already aware, being in a clan is being encouraged in a few different ways. It’s the only way to join a Special Forces team (ie: Navy SEALs, British SAS, etc) and have access to a new weapon, new gear, and be a part of the clan leader boards. At first I wasn’t so sure about this idea to push people into a clan, but now it’s all making sense and if you look ahead, post-release, it’s going to help keep the community for Confrontation going strong.
If you aren’t following what I’m alluding to here, I’ll make it a little more clear. The online mode in the original SOCOM was able to create a very strong community, almost by accident. A large part of the reason for this was the lobby system that was implemented in conjunction with the lack of a fleshed out friend’s list. What I mean by this is the friend/clan list in SOCOM 1 only told you who in your list were online, it did not tell you what room they were in. This caused each clan to have a “home server”, so you always knew where to find their rooms or could at least narrow down where they’d be playing. Which also meant that it, almost accidentally, caused communities to form around each server and you really got to know the people you were playing with and against as you would keep running into them in that single 256-max player servers (‘US East 5’ for example).
So what does that have anything to do with this? Well the encouraged clan play in Confrontation is almost like the SOCOM 1 lobby system in that they will both, almost by accident, strengthen the community. What the encouraged clan play in Confrontation will do, is firstly, cause people to join a clan. That part is rather obvious. But the ramifications of this will be huge.
For anyone that has been in a clan or a guild, one thing you realize is that often times you’ll just play the game so you can play with those people, because you enjoy spending time with your clan mates or guild members. And if you take a look at all the most successful online games (World of Warcraft, Counter-Strike, SOCOM II, Halo 2, etc), clans/guilds are a HUGE part of those communities.
So not only is pushing clan play in Confrontation to the benefit of Sony/Slant Six, as it will build a strong community and help keep this game going for many years, but it will also benefit the player in ways that might not be as obvious. Taking the examples I used in the paragraph above, something else they all have in common that goes hand in hand with clans/guilds, is voice chat. Whether it’s through Ventrillo in World of Warcraft, or it’s built in like it is in SOCOM II, voice chat is integral to those experiences. And if you are familiar at all with the state of online gaming on PS3 right now, voice chat is very underutilized.
But with clans being so prominent in Confrontation, what this will end up doing it pushing people to use voice chat more. No longer will we be in games where only 50% of the room has a headset, and the other 25% has one but doesn’t want to wear it, because with clan play you WANT to talk. You want to have conversations with the people you play online and have become so familiar with. So because of this, I predict SOCOM Confrontation will be one of the first PS3 games where you find 9 times out of 10, that almost everyone in the room is using voice chat.
So the way I see it, encouraged clan play is the SOCOM 1 lobby system of 2008. Both are brilliant accidents that did/will strengthen the community.