Social Networks Attract Nearly Half Of All Web Users
The top 10 sites collectively grew 47 percent in the United States from the same month a year ago to 68.8 million unique visitors, Nielsen/NetRatings said. The sites reached 45 percent of active Web users. This has been something I've always tried to stress, as far as ARG design. A big chunk of web surfers have some sort of online community they call home, whether it be MySpace, WeLovePoodles, or Unifiction.
People tend to want to play at "home," and forcing them into a new social area with new rules, etc., is something players may not want to do. This is just one of the reasons I don't like "in-game" forums set up as a play space by ARG developers.
As far as ARGs are concerned, most of the time, the Player-base gains critical mass at one location or forum, but that doesn't mean it always has to be that way.
Witness the Lost Experience. It's being played and enjoyed at a ton of different places. Gravitational forces may whittle that down to a couple major "go-to" communities, but even if that doesn't happen, is that so bad?