Do MMOs Need Leaderboards?

Since my days in the arcade, I've been obsessed with gaming leaderboards. I would always wonder who the man or woman was behind those mysterious initials like "ALL" or "OLD," but when my own...

Since my days in the arcade, I've been obsessed with gaming
leaderboards. I would always wonder who the man or woman was behind
those mysterious initials like "ALL" or "OLD," but when my own initials
would grace the top of those leaderboards, I would make it a point to
show all of my friends that I was indeed the best player of href=""
out of anyone in our little home area. It was
a symbol of pride, a badge of honor that I would defend every time a
new player walked in and tried to top my score. There was something
memorable about being the best and having it clearly defined on a
game's leaderboard. Like href=""
target="_blank">George Costanza and his style="font-style: italic;">Frogger record,
I wanted that score to stay forever.

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EverQuest II
was one of my first experiences with full fledged leaderboards.

Of course my score didn't last and eventually the style="font-style: italic;">Raiden II machine
was evacuated out of the building for a newer machine, but those days
of high scores have always stuck in my mind. So when the first MMOs
decided to put in ways to track a player's progression in a world, I
was ecstatic. Not only was I able to see where I stood compared to the
progression of other players in the game world, but I could also see if
any particular tactics were influencing my movement compared to other

One of my first experiences with this sort of gameplay began when I got
my pre-order for target="_blank">EverQuest
in the mail. Although I'd played some in
competitive games like href=""
Age of Camelot
, href=""
and X-Wing vs. TIE
, I never really spent enough time with those games
to really develop any sort of need to be at the top of the player
leaderboard. In EverQuest
, however, I knew going in that this game had
competitive elements in it specifically centered around character
progression and exploration. The idea of "server firsts" took on a
whole new concept in EverQuest
, with players specifically gunning to be the first
person to find "Dragon's Temper" or "Gorynn's Fist" so they could
forever have their name inscribed beside the item as "first discovered
by" such and such.

For awhile, I actually maintained a relatively high place in the
overall progression for EQ2, ranked as the 16th best Paladin on my
server in the very beginning weeks of the game. Although real life
eventually kicked me until I dropped out of my position, the idea of
being a real leader on my server was a phenomenal feeling. My kills and
loot had purpose. Suddenly you're the most desired player out there
simply because you are that much better than every other player of your

Remarkably, the leaderboard concept seems to be an off-and-on sort of
idea for developers. Although href="" target="_blank"> style="font-style: italic;">Warhammer Online
implemented them for their PvP purposes and href="" target="_blank"> style="font-style: italic;">Lord of the Rings Online
has dozens of achievements for players to earn, I don't know if any
game has implemented leaderboards to the degree that style="font-style: italic;">EverQuest II did.
Remarkably, even World of Warcraft has really jumped on the leaderboard
bandwagon, even with all of their methods for tracking player data
beyond simply PvP statistics.

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Evolution should have some awesome leaderboards.

One upcoming game that I know will include a variety of leaderboards
(and that target="_blank">I just previewed here at Ten Ton
Hammer) is target="_blank">Jumpgate
. In a space combat MMO, it would seem
almost ridiculous not to be accurately tallying every piece of
information that a developer could pull out of the database. Capital
ship kills, player kills, PvE kills, wealth, loot, items crafted,
resources mined, scenarios won....all of these statistics should be
tracked and easily accessible for the players on leaderboards and in
their own character UI as well. Due to the short amount of time I spent
with Jumpgate Evolution,
I wasn't able to discern what kind of statistics are kept and tracked
by the developers, but I can only imagine that their will be ample ways
to pull up data for your character.

In fact, the original Jumpgate
has one of the target="_blank">most complete leaderboards I've
ever found in MMO
gaming. Everything from faction kills to missles fired to net worth is
all tracked on a leaderboard that's updated every 2-5 minutes! The
NetDevil developers certainly know how to make their leaderboards, and
I can only guess at the sort of options that will be available to the
JGE pilots.

Frankly, I'd like to see all of MMO gaming take a more JGE approach to
their leaderboards. There should be an incredible amount of leaderboard
options for players to fight over, from death to kill ratios to
successful quest attempts. With so much data at a developers fingertips
these days, it's almost a disservice to the players to not offer bigger
leaderboard options and more ways for player to brag and say "I'm the

But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe leaderboards break immersion, drive players
to not enjoy the game, and merely lead to more internal strife among
players. If you disagree, I'd like to hear from you either on the
forums or target="_blank">via email. Until next week, you've
been In the Trenches. 

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our EverQuest II Game Page.

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