So, you finally pooled your MMORPG friends together and formed a guild or clan. The next natural step is to create a guild website or some method for out of game guild and clan communication.
The most sought after features in Guild Web Hosting seem to be a scheduling system, a tracking system such as raid rosters or DKP management. Message Boards are another key factor in deciding where to host your guild's website.
Some brave adventurers try to create their own guild website, but the costs associated with web hosting, software licensing and the difficult task of customization and programming can seem overwhelming even to a top notch computer savvy guild master.
Guild Hosting Providers have sprung up on the internet in recent years to do the enormous popularity of MMORPG's, led by World of Warcraft. Our search is on to find the top 5 guild hosting companies and compare their service offerings.
Guild Portal: Guild Portal started in 2002 and is the veteran of Guild Hosting. They offer guild hosting packages between $30-$45 per month. Their service includes guild email, voting services, forums, event and raid management, community participation rewards, quest tracking, real time chat for guilds.
The company claims to host over 90,000 guilds and offers a feature rich guild hosting platform that is intuitive and easy to use.
GuildCafe: A newcomer to the Guild Hosting business, GuildCafe goes beyond guild hosting and delves deeper into the global social aspect of gaming. Where other guild hosting businesses focus solely on hosting each guild site as an individual entity, at GuildCafe, your guild site is part of the overall MMORPG gaming community.
Guild websites at GuildCafe take a unique approach and instead of an object with owners, your guild site has more of a community value and not just a stat tracking machine.
GuildCafe's guild sites include message boards, blogs, event tracking, roster management and community building tools. GuildCafe has been compared to Classmates.Com and MySpace of the MMORPG industry. The best part is, hosting at GuildCafe is free.
The most enticing feature at GuildCafe is its open MMORPG community tools that promote your members and guilds and help guilds forge alliances and allows MMORPG players to connect with eachother outside the game.
Guild Universe: Guild Universe began in 2003 and offers free and paid guild and clan webhosting. Under the free package, your guild receives free message boards, roster, polls and event scheduling, but it is ad driven, meaning there will be ads on your guild's web pages.
The Guild Universe premium plans range from $14.95 per month to $29.95 per month depending on the feature set you need to run and manage your guild online. The premium guild site offers a DKP system, customization and removal of the banner ad system.
Guild Launch: Guild Launch is another relatively new player in the Guild Hosting space. The site launched in 2006 and boasts a very rich set of tools for guild management. Hosting packages range from $6.00 per month for basic functionality to $20 per month for a full fledged guild portal system.
Moving up the chain of features, Guild Launch offers ventrilo service for $11 per month and fully integrated raid, item, bank and roster tools. Integrated guild wiki, guild roster tools and the ability to seperate DKP into pools so you can track 5 man, 20 man and 40 man DKP with their own unique tracking systems.
Guild Launch also provides hosted guilds with a suite of web widgets that can be placed on any website to help promote the guild. Another feature of Guild Launch is full integration with a handful of MMORPG's including Final Fantasy, Lord of the Rings, World of Warcraft and Pirates of the Burning Sea.
MMO Guildsites: MMO Guildsites is yet another newcomer to the emerging guild hosting industry. Started in 2006, MMO Guildsites offers full featured guild websites with an emphasis on World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings Online guilds.
Each guild site is a suite of customizable tools and widgets, nearly 50 in all that can be easily managed and arranged by the guild webmaster. MMO Guildsites has a more subtle and corporate feel to their application than the others where they serve up crisp and clean pages that can be easily customized. Guild hosting plans range from $9 to $17.
There are many other guild hosting companies out there, but I've only sampled the top rated and most rewarding ones I have found.
Most offer a free trial, so make sure when you're choosing a guild hosting provider for your clan or guild that you do some investigating on your own. Speak to other guild leaders and see what they think. Don't forget to search the internet for feedback and reviews.
The hardest part of managing a guild website is to get your members to actually use it. Once they do use it, changing providers can be very difficult and you will most likely lose some of your user retention.
Happy searching and best of luck to you and your new guild.