A community? What's that!?
A community is a group of people that share a common interest. In games, think of community as fans. Fans that play your game and that interact with eachother just beacause they want to. They choose to do this in and around your game of own free will and hopefully likes to do so.
The community are your players, but also your non-playing fans. You can still have a community even if you haven't released a game which they yet can't play.
Players interact with each other from different places, in different groups. Players that usually hangs around in the chat rooms, may find other players hanging on the forums.
Some players stay inside the mini community of clans, some only play against other players.
Some hangs around the website and interact through other mediums than the game developer provides, like MSN or AOL.
A community isn't so important, or is it?
Yes, it's very important. If you don't have a community, who will play your game? If no one chooses to meet and interact in or around your game, you don't have a community and thereby no soul to fill the body, the game.
It is important to have a community before the game is released, when it has been released and even after the game has been shut down (as MMO-games sometimes does).
- Having a community before release gives some kind of ensurance of a community even after release.
- A community after release is your players; the ones who buys your game and makes sure you get dinner on your table (not in every case).
- Still having your community even after you shut down your servers is good if you are planning to make more games, especially in the same genre. This community can be used as a start-up community for another game.
- Don't waste your community, or it will waste you!
This is my assumtion: A game, other than single player games, without a community is a game without soul and a game without success.