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Do MMOs Need Leaderboards?

Posted Fri, Feb 27, 2009 by Cody Bye

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 Raiden II 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 George Costanza and his Frogger record, I wanted that score to stay forever.

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

Of course my score didn't last and eventually the 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 players.

One of my first experiences with this sort of gameplay began when I got my pre-order for EverQuest II in the mail. Although I'd played some in competitive games like Dark Age of Camelot, Jumpgate, and X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, 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 II, 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 II, 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.

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