The Syndicate® Turns 17 Years Old!
Seventeen years ago, in February 1996, a community known as The Syndicate ( was formed. That community was founded with the hope, belief and dream that players would want to come together as a team of friends; who wanted to stick together for years; and who would be able to work through the challenges that often tear communities apart. Right from the beginning, the community faced big hurdles. Initial recruiting practices were abysmal with an applicant merely needing an email address to join. Sometimes they didn't even need that because entire other guilds wholesale merged with The Syndicate. Those were challenging times but as player expectations were low back in those days, we were able to weather that storm. Now, 17 years later, we look back on those mistakes as opportunities we were fortunate to have as they helped shape us into what we are today.

While there are other successful, fun loving and friend focused communities in the online gaming space, The Syndicate is very proud of its unique achievements within the gaming and community space.

* We created the largest, single guild, annual conference known as SyndCon. This year will mark the 12th year we have held that event.

* We hold the Guinness World Record for the longest, continuously operating, online gaming community.

* We have a retention rate that is unrivaled in the online space. On average, we lose 1-2 people per year. That is a .08% loss rate or said another way, a 99.92% retention rate. That metric is key to us because our people are our reason for existing.

* We have our own studio that does strategy guide writing and game and hardware consulting and testing.

One of the more interesting things about this anniversary is that it is the harbinger of change in the MMORPG universe. As our move into our 18th year as a community, internally we are starting to see the children of our members applying to join. We have an 18 years or older policy and this year begins a cycle where kids who were born after we were founded as a community can join. Said a different way, that means people who have only known MMORPGs similar to WoW or EQ or UO or Rift are heading off to college.

Why does that matter? It matters because the MMOs of the past 17 years were created, in large part, by a community of developers who knew the world of BBS gaming via a modem... who played MUDs and MOOs... who, in the more senior levels, knew gaming before there were computers. We are just now reaching the point where the future programmers, designers, producers etc.. are heading off to college having never known a world without MMORPGS. Some of the core mechanics and concepts that shaped what "success" is in the MMORPG world are things they have never experienced, and that isn't a bad thing. It means there is change coming to the MMO space.

Those new developers and new community members have a vision that grew up and evolved under a different set of circumstances than those that created Ultima Online.. or that created The Syndicate for that matter. The future of gaming and even of gaming communities is going to be evolving in the next few years. What "success" means to a game... what a "successful community" means in terms of the services it offers to its members... are all changing and evolving even though the future, key influencers don't even realize who they are yet or how their vision is and will change things.

So while The Syndicate turning 17 years old may or may not be of particular interest to you, the idea that it is a harbinger of change coming to the MMO space is one we should all be watching eagerly over the next few years. There is a growing chorus within the online community that there is too much rehashing of the same ideas, same mechanics, and same ways to 'win' a game. Fresh ideas and the change they bring is an exciting thing to contemplate.

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