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Where is the social hub of your favorite mmorpg? How did it get popular?

Gamingtodaynews1e - Where is the social hub of your favorite mmorpg? How did it get popular?

Back in the day, if you wanted to log in just to chat with strangers there was somewhere you could go to accomplish that. Lately, I've been noticing that it's getting harder to find a place to do that. Modern games are built to keep you chasing that imaginary carrot so social hubs don't emerge as easily. What did games do (or didn't do) in the past that allowed the birth of social hubs?

Here are some examples from games I used to play.


Honestly, it was really easy to chat just about anywhere in this game due to how hands-off the activities are. But if you wanted to do nothing but chat, the fountain at the center of Varrock or the castle courtyard of Lumbridge was a good choice. Varrock was the center of commerce before the grand exchange, as well as the location of many quests and stores, so many players naturally gathered here. Lumbridge was where new players got sent to after tutorial island, as well as the location of where your free teleport magic spell sends you. These locations generally leave players with questions like, "what do I do now?" So someone more experienced can lend a helping hand.

Ragnarok Online

In official servers, the map directly south of Prontera (the capital city) was a popular hangout spot. It was mainly because Prontera was the most popular commerce center; streets were filled to the brim with player shops. Experienced players would come to the nearby map to use their "dead branches," an item that summons a random monster, or "bloody branches," an item that summons a random boss. This was because those dangerous items were not allowed to be used in town and these items had a chance to spawn monsters with valuable loot in a safe map.

New players had to pass through this map to enter town, so some players would grief new players by summoning powerful monsters to block the entrance to Prontera. At the same time, other players would team up to fight these random monsters, especially bosses, who don't spawn that often, and often have dangerous maps. It's a lot easier to get a bunch of strong players together to come one map south to fight a boss in any easy map than make an arduous journey to some remote corner of the map, enter a dungeon, fight or run through several floors, and HOPE the boss is there.

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So players gathered there for the occasional surprise fight against a random monster. You could kill time between spawns with some friendly conversation or tricking someone into typing a long message, then summoning a random monster to land in some sneaky hits against them.


Henesys. This town was the closest you could get to having a "capital" in Maplestory. It has a Free Market portal (takes you to the trade hub), access to every npc vendor, and is surrounded by solid low level hunting areas and quests. Considering how slow it is to level in the original maple, this city was constantly under heavy traffic. Henesys was also extremely flat making travel really simple, but also really fast due to very conveniently placed hidden shortcuts that teleported you to useful parts of the map.

Somehow, Henesys got so popular that players effectively lived there just to chat. These people could usually be identified from others based on the amount of cash shop cosmetics they were wearing, atrociously high (or low) amounts of fame, and a full friends list. The entire town was a social hub. Even the interior of store buildings or Maya's house (a low lvl quest giver npc) had people chatting and hanging out. Like Runescape, I predict the density of low level players and proximity to the free market allowed Henesys to become a commanding social hub.


From these 3 examples, it appears that having new players and marketplaces in the same general area increases traffic and social growth. Why do you think this is the case?

Does this also apply to other games?

Do games without a new player hub or commerce centers have social hubs develop from other locations?

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