Smart Thoughts on Shawn Fanning’s MMO Social Network Start-up

Rupture.comI haven’t heard much lately about Rupture, Shawn Fanning’s now-in-Beta social network for World of Warcraft users, but two excellent insights on it just came across my desktop. Tony Walsh at Clickable Culture thinks The Armory, Blizzard’s new searchable database network of WoW items and players, is going to make Rupture irrelevant:

I think it would be relatively trivial for the developer to take The Armory into social-networking territory, allowing players to add information to personal profiles, publish buddy-lists, chat, even perform some in-game functions through a web-browser interface. If Blizzard goes this route (and I think it should), Rupture is screwed.

Not so fast, says Sven Concord of reBang.

Rupture, he argues, is aiming for more than just the Warcraft market:

Unlike Blizzard, Rupture isn’t tied to a single property. World of Warcraft will eventually fade away; the users won’t. Groups of users (guilds, clans, whatever) move from game to game; virtual world to virtual world. The one thing that ties them all together is the Net, and Rupture exists on that level. It’s user-centric, not game-centric. Rupture isn’t competing with the games or the worlds, it’s competing with XBox Live, Xfire, and all the other social networking services out there.

On that view, Rupture could become an independent, centralized network for all the major online worlds, the place for friends and colleagues to keep track of each other as they hop from game to game. Seen this way, Rupture will be built to outlast WoW or any one world, and compete directly with Microsoft’s Xbox Live and MTV’s Xfire, and beyond.

Whatever the case, GigaGamez will be checking in more with Rupture soon. Among Rupture’s investors are brilliant tech guru and hardcore WoW player Joi Ito, who believes Warcraft is an early prototype for the future of work online. So whatever their long term plans, my guess is they have more in mind than making a nice widget for WoW gamers.