Global Rankings Nears Launch

Mplayer readies a new cross-platform stats tracking service that will soon be available for over 20 games.

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Later this month, Mplayer will launch Global Rankings, a free game statistics tracking service that will be built into 20 new and existing games this year. The recently released beta update of Quake III: Arena gives a sneak peek of much of the service's core functionality, as it allows Global Rankings to track about 300 different statistics drawn from multiplayer matches. The full version of Global Rankings, which will launch on October 20, will be available for PC, Macintosh, and Linux games from Activision, Interplay, and Ion Storm. PlayStation 2 and Dreamcast support will arrive later this winter. The Team Arena expansion for Quake III will be the first new game to ship with support for Global Rankings.

Players who sign up for the basic Global Rankings service can go to this site and compare results with other ranked players. For Quake III, statistics are displayed for overall performance and on a per game and per weapon basis. The full version of Global Rankings will allow users to enter demographic data so they can compare themselves to others in the same geographic area or with similar hardware. It will also display player rankings by map and by weapon to better represent players' special talents. While Quake III games won't let bots run on ranked servers, other games can use Global Rankings technology to track single-player results, like time to level completion or overall score.

Since the global ladder for popular games should quickly fill up with an overwhelming number of players, Global Rankings lets any group set up open or private gaming leagues. Users can create leagues for either team or individual play, and full moderation powers are given to a league's creator. Leagues can be set up for either standard ladder rankings or chess-style rankings that weight the number of points awarded to account for the level of the other opponents. A challenge system will help coordinate matches and can e-mail other league members to set up specific matches.

Mplayer has been working on the service for about 18 months and has expended a great deal of effort to prevent cheating. Some of the preventative measures include data encryption and the polling of all game machines involved in a match to look for discrepancies. Mplayer also expects the league moderators to quickly exclude those who are obviously getting more credit than their skills deserve.

Looking ahead, Mplayer expects Global Rankings to make up one-third to half of its overall traffic in the next year. Also, the company doesn't plan to just support the current range of competitive action and strategy games; Global Rankings may eventually find a place in persistent state games such as EverQuest. From what Mplayer told GameSpot, it may be possible for an online RPG developer to display statistics in a meaningful way inside the game itself. The game could, for instance, award a player skilled at slaying ogres the honorific title of "Ogre Slayer." As Global Rankings is at its essence just a simple data management technology, Mplayer hopes that it can work its way into areas of gaming that haven't previously benefited from persistent statistics.

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