As trading card, tabletop and role-playing game publisher Wizards of the Coast (Dungeons & Dragons, Magic: The Gathering) announces gamer community portal and strategy game digital distribution hub Gleemax.com, we talk with senior developer Randy Buehler about how the site will keep the WotC "guy" from "falling through the cracks" of social networking.
WotC says the site will be built on three pillars: community, games and editorial content, and will feature an online social community, WotC digital gaming properties as well as independent strategy games, player profiles, interactive analog and digital community activities, editorial content including community message boards, WotC and player blogs and game rankings and reviews.
Speaking to Gamasutra, Buehler said, "There are other sources of social networking out there, but none of them speak to our specific customers. To be honest, we feel like 'our guy' is falling through the cracks. Our guy wants gameplay, mental challenges. We've been making games for the same guy for years, and we feel like we know what makes this guy tick. We feel that there is a real opportunity to appeal to this guy, and that is Gleemax."
The site's indie strategy game portal and hardcore board game portal will be devoted to digital distribution of games both from the company's backlog of games such as Axis & Allies, as well as games produced elsewhere that the company has given "the WotC Seal of Approval."
Finally, the site plans to give hobby retailers a place to advertise upcoming tournaments and events, populating community member calendars in the vicinity of the events.
"Gleemax is about building a community where ['that WotC guy'] can find others like him," said Buehler. "We're not going into this to compete with other social networking sites like MySpace, but rather for gamers, and nothing but gamers, to meet."
"We have a story to tell that we think people will be interested in hearing," he concluded. "We're kind of like the guy behind the counter at one of these hobby stores. We want to be that hobby store sensei for the next generation of games."
The portal is expected to be launched in phases, starting in August concurrent to the GenCon convention, with online community tools, gamer personal profiles, and editorial content. WotC will then add new features and new digitally distributed games throughout the rest of the year and into early 2008. A longer Q&A with Buehler will be posted on Gamasutra later this week.