So given our prior (and current) experience with Square Enix, we all know that getting information out of them can be difficult at times. But SE has been making strides lately (or so it seems), and there seems to be a concerted effort to increase the developer’s visibility in the social networks. The latest was an official FFXIII twitter account (started yesterday). We’ve also seen an official FFXIII facebook account (started about a week ago), and a YouTube channel (started a year ago). For what it’s worth, SE also recently (past few months) added RSS feeds to their official Final Fantasy XI website.
So what does this all mean? Well for starters we might see official FFXIV twitter and facebook accounts. In this day and age that seems like an obvious addition – although not guaranteed given SE’s history. But if they did enter the fray, how will they use these networks? They can certainly be used purely as one-way communication tools like RSS feeds. YouTube trends towards that model by it’s very nature – allowing SE to post it’s own videos and maintain them in a central place. But Twitter and Facebook can (and often are) used by companies to interact with their communities. This, if they even go down this road, is the challenge for SE.
Interaction with the community has typically been through intermediaries – namely the fan sites. The communities post and communicate on third party fan sites and SE will typically silently monitor those sites. SE then interacts with the administrators of those sites to either gain some understanding of the communities, or to impart information to the communities. There is nothing wrong with this model, but it can be improved. While SE certainly cannot respond to every message left on it’s Facebook wall, nor every @ twitter message, it can have an active presence on these networks (active meaning that they are used more than as RSS feeds). Especially when it comes to FFXIV – an online MMORPG which, by definition, is going to attract players who are looking for online community interaction. For SE to be out in front on this would be proclaiming to the community that they understand and are committed to increased interaction between official SE representatives and the players – no matter how minor and informal it might be. We’ll see what the SE and the FFXIV community managers have in store for us when it comes to FFXIV – and will be watching how the the FFXIII managers use their new found communication platforms.