"We want the game to be very user-driven. We want to see how people are using our game and plan accordingly. For launch we are going to allow player to make their own leaderboards. It's not an API, but it is interfacing data-points. You can monitor on a daily basis how people are playing the game. Really pushing power to the user is what we want to do with this. We call it the 'no assumption' approach," explains our tour guide, Monsieur Gaudechon.
A direct example of this is the Meeting Place feature. The team noticed during beta that players would gather in a stadium because it made a great backdrop for screenshots. This stadium became a social-gathering venue. So the designers built upon this natural gravitation and made Meeting Places. Players can show off their cars, meet with friends, or make new friends here.
On the subject of friends, the friends list acts as a central hub of information, not just a list to see who is online and who is not. Unlike World of Warcraft where you can add a friend without the other player having any knowledge of it, Need For Speed World's friends list does ask the player to confirm. This become important when you look at what can be done with that friends list outside the game. Besides being able to view friends' statics and achievements in game, all that information can be exported outside the game to place on websites and other online tools. The designers suggest that other meta-games can be built based of this information or perhaps information can be gleaned to create a players' own leaderboards. Designers are holding off making tools for guilds, which they call Crews, until they are able to see what people do with the current friends tools that will exist at launch. The developers believe if there is no use for it, then it probably should not be made. Take note that non of the offline options will be available at launch, but are planned for the future.
In the understandable interest of quality -- c'mon you can't show off a car that looks pixelated, right? -- the designers are restricting the number of vehicles that will render in one area to 16. This will not limit the number of people players can speak to in chat. In fact, if players group up with their friends, they have the option to just render the cars in their group.
This reinforces the developer's desire to have this game playable for everyone. They would really like to work well on notebooks and even netbooks, so they can reach the broadest amount of people as possible. This is why they have easy-to-use steering wheel and game pad options, just like the other Need for Speed titles. Not to mention, this game uses very little bandwidth and is only about a 700 MB download.
Launch is scheduled for mid-July on North American and European servers, although there is not restricted access. (The different server options are mostly for ping rate.) If a player wishes to take the game beyond level ten, she can buy the starter pack for $19.99US. Also, Speed Boost points can be purchased to obtain items from their shop or to rent other vehicles. We are told it is important to note that performance cannot be purchased. For those who maybe have a lot of time but not a lot of cash, all items in the shop can be obtained within the game. The item shop is really there to supplement for those players who may not have the time to gain items in game but don't have any issue buying items directly.
As a final thought we leave you with this statement from the game's producer: "One thing that is important to us is that we are committed to supporting the game through multiple years. There will be content updates -- we're already working now on the first one, which will come usually at a pace of three months. New game modes, new cars, new social features, not just fixes here and there, but real additions to the game."
I think the players will hold you to that.