Clans, guilds, corporations, outfits and organizations. They go by different names from game to game but it is hard to play many games without seeing someone with a tag of some sorts representing the group they are a part of. Multiplayer games are often defined by the communities within them. A good community can add a lot to a game, bringing you back for years. Even games that don't officially support player groups can benefit from having a great community of people to play with. Why is it that games often overlook or sometimes even ignore player run communities? There is a ton of work that goes into building a community and the goal here is to shed some light into what it takes to run an organization.
When it comes to building a community there's a huge to-do list in the back end. Usually it's a good idea to build a website and forum. Do you use a free service or do you buy your own license? Where do go to get your domain set up? What voice client to use, Teamspeak, Mumble, Ventrilo or RaidCall? Is communication out of game required, if so do we use Steam, Facebook, Skype or some other service? How much is this all going to cost? To get an idea of how much money we could be spending let's take the professional approach. Vbulletin license, domain registration, web hosting, VOIP and a game server.
Vbulletin 5: $250 USD
Domain: $13-$15 a year depending on the host.
Web hosting: $100 a year and up depending on packages.
Teamspeak 3: Usually goes for $0.40 a slot. A 25 slot server is $10 a month.
Team Fortress 2: A 24 slot server can run you $25 a month.
Battlefield 4: A 64 slot server for Battlefield 4 can cost $86 a month.
So for example if I wanted to start my own clan for the upcoming Battlefield 4 there's a lot to do and get set up. If I was going to do this right I'd want my own website and everything. Vbulletin is a one time purchase (though there are upgrade packages) so there's $250. For Teamspeak, web and game hosting I'd be looking at a yearly cost of at least $1252, and for the first year that would be $1502 because of Vbulletin. Obviously a 64 slot Battlefield server is not cheap (Battlefield has always been expensive to host) and starting off with such a big server wouldn't be a smart plan but you get the idea of what kind of costs are expected to run a serious and dedicated gaming community. MMO guilds don't have to pay as much because they don't have to worry about game servers, but there is still web hosting and voice servers.
That is just the cost. You also have to have the technical know-how to set up your servers. You also need to know how to build a website otherwise you're either going to need a friend who has a lot of time or you're going to have to pay for it. You need to give your community a name and you essentially need to build a brand. You need to be tech savvy, a salesman, a manager and a marketer all in one. This is very demanding work and for anyone getting a group started it takes some serious dedication. Most of this work is done in spare time and you can't expect to be paid for it.
So what happens when you have everything set up? You have a name, a website and some servers. A community with one person is not exactly a community. You need people. You need to convince people that playing with you isn't a complete waste of their time and you need to convince them to stay around and help out. Since in this example we're using Battlefield 4 we have a 64 slot server we are paying $86 a month for. If nobody is in that server, you're wasting your money. If you can fill that server, you can recruit people to your cause but you need to somehow fill that server. As a player ask yourself, if you're playing Battlefield how likely are you going to join a server that has 1/64 people playing? How fun is it to play the largest map with only two people. It's not fun at all. It takes time to sit in that empty server, get people to help you and hit that sweet spot where people start joining for a fun game.
When your server is full and people are happily playing, what are you going to do when there's abusive chat? If a few troublemakers constantly troll everyone else that's not very fun and it could cause people to leave your server and go play somewhere else. What are you going to do when a hacker joins? Hackers can empty a server in minutes if left unchecked. You have to constantly monitor the server. Sometimes you have to step back from actually playing to issue out a kick or a ban. What happens when you aren't playing? You need to put people you trust in your community into admin positions. These are people who will essentially have keys to your server. There is a lot to do in order to maintain a server and keep it running.
In closing here's a shout out to anyone who runs a gaming community. Be it a clan, a guild or anything in between. If you own a successful server in a game, you should be proud of yourself for what you have built. It's certainly not easy to get to where you are. If people like reading this sort of thing I will continue writing about gaming communities and go more in depth into topics. Maybe a Teamspeak vs Ventrilo vs Mumble article? Anyways thanks for reading. Send some feedback in the comments.