So, you’ve got a clan (or Platoon as DICE prefer to call them) and want to create a website to organise yourself and communicate. There are a number of companies out there providing specific hosting for clans and I’ve had a quick peruse of the most popular, specifically with Battlefield in mind.
To me, I think the most important capabilities, apart from looking good and being easy to use, is event management and good communication tools (forum, chat, etc). Users should be able to submit applications to join and, ideally, there should be a ranking system in the site so that members are aware of any leaders, etc. The site should be mobile compatible and there should be an option to be able to use your own domain name.
Most hosts offer free and paid for options. Free options usually carry advertisements which, to be honest, are probably fine for most people. There are often multiple premium options available but I’ve concentrated on the cheapest of these in each case as they often include all features – the more expensive versions usually have more storage, improved voice chat, etc. Voice chat, btw, is not something I’ve been concerned about in my reviews.
The free version has advertisements and doesn’t allow users to have ranks. It also restricts theme editing and you can’t use your own domain either. Unfortunately, event management is available in the free version which, to me, elliminates this as a choice to me.
The “Advanced” package allows up to 5 ranks to be configured and you have full domain and event management available. You can also add site announcements, which you can’t with the free version.
There are a number of themes available, including some BF specific ones, and they’re editable to your own choice. There was integration for BF3 (it could show your rank and stats) but this hasn’t been upgraded for BF4.
It costs $7.15 a month and, handily, each site carries an easy way for clan members to contribute to these costs by donating small (or large) sums.
iClan provide some very nice looking sites – something that’s often not the case with other hosts.
As is usual the free option includes advertising and only a sub-set of available themes. However, many of the themes are game based and there is an excellent Battlefield one available. Features such as forum, chat, event management and mobile compatibility is present. You can even use your own domain name with the free package, which is rare. It doesn’t look as is if you can rank members, however.
For $4.99 a month their premium option gives you up to 15 ranks, announcements and a full set of themes. In both cases, themes are editable.
If you want tournament management then you will need to pay $8.32 a month for their Premium+ option.
Site management is easy and the results are really quite good – I created an example site here within a few minutes.
Offering a free and premium ($9 a month) plan, Shivtr sweeps the board with the features it offers. The main restriction on the free account is the inability to change the CSS of your theme.
And this is where we have a problem – an easy to use clan hosting system shouldn’t need you to dabble with CSS. There are only a handful of themes available (nothing for Battlefield), whether premium or not, and if you’re not up to changing CSS then you’re stuck with exactly what you’re given – no simple colour tweaking or anything.
Indeed, administration is limited generally with little control over the look and feel of your resulting site. Designed more for guilds than clans I think this is reflected in the style of themes available.
Nexus only provide free clan sites – naturally they contain ads. Unfortunately, they aren’t currently allowing new sign-ups, so I’m unable to try out their features.
What I can tell is that you get forums, chat, domain and event management. You can also edit your themes but as to how many are available…?
In the opposite way to Nexus, ClantoolZ only offers a premium service. For $10 a month you get… well… it’s tricky. There’s no demo and a lack of features are listed. I know you can use your own domain, it includes a forum and you can manage events but other than that, I’m not sure.
Looking at their listing of clan sites they provide, it only shows 19, the most recent established only a few days ago. However, those sites I visited didn’t look particularly well designed.
They offer a free service which gives you adverts and the inability to use your own URL. Otherwise, $7 a month will give you domain management and an ad free environment. In all cases you get a forum and event management. I can’t see any live chat or ranking options. On the up-side that are nearly 400 themes to choose from, including 2 Battlefield specific ones. Themes can then be edited accordingly.
My biggest gripe with Guild Launch, other than the lack of some features, is how sluggish the administration system is and old-fashioned and clunky it is in use. It desperately needs bringing up to date.
XippY is the one host on my list that’s UK based. There is no free version and, equally, no chance to try either, which is a shame.
Their only package is from £3.58 a month (depending on how many months you pay for up front). Sadly, because of the lack of a free options, and not a huge amount of the site dedicated to listing the features of the hosting I can’t tell you for sure what theme options there are. Or whether there is any event management. I know there are forums and chat available , as well as ranks and domain management. But that’s it really.
With no demo currently available, I wouldn’t recommend this host. Maybe, when they get it working again, it would be worthy of a further look if you’re based in the UK.
If you’re looking for a free solution then I would recommend iClan Websites – their free offering is good looking, powerful and includes a lot of features.
If you’re happy to pay a little then it’s a toss-up between iClan and Enjin. Personally, I’d recommend signing up with a free account on both and seeing which one you’re happiest with – you can then upgrade your account when you’re ready to decide.