Developer Diaries: Why A Game Community Manager Is Essential To Success

 
Source/Created with: Canva Pro  Copyright: Kenishirotie Getty Images Pro (Free for Canva Pro users)

Source/Created with: Canva Pro

Copyright: Kenishirotie Getty Images Pro (Free for Canva Pro users)

 

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • Why a game community manager belongs in the development team.

  • How CMs harness player power and help you make the right choices.

  • Elevating your brand through game community management.


As your game grows, so too will your team. Structure and responsibility will become further defined and, hopefully, built to scale. Aside from design, development, production, and marketing, you might have departments for support, live-ops, quality assurance, player experience, social media management, art, and so on.

(By the way, we cleared up the difference between a CM and a social media manager here.) 

In all of this, online community manager jobs are like the proverbial Venn diagram of fuzzy-lined disciplines. So, if you haven’t the foggiest idea as to where, when or how to include this in your strategy, it might seem sensible to simply make community management its own department. 

I’d dare say, that’s not the sturdiest of strategies.

Community managers belong on the front lines with the rest of the development team. They are part of the game-building core, and here are 5 reasons why: 

(1) Community Managers Build Trust In Your Product

In the world of video games, community managers are kind of like the new kids on the block. They’re pretty trendy but not everyone understands why they’re here.

The role might be new, but the tricks of the community management trade are anything but. Under the many hats a CM wears, there’s always a hint of marketing sewn in. Knowing your product inside and out—perks and faults alike—helps them build trust in it. 

Including a CM early in the development cycle will not only allow them to understand the product through its core-mechanics, features, and limitations, it will give them—and the marketing team—a fantastic opportunity to start building your online community pre-launch.

This, in turn, will help them present the game to your audience in a way that highlights the best while setting realistic expectations. Moreover, they’ll be prepared to explain possible limitations or bugs in a way players can accept.

(1) Community Managers Build Trust In Your Product

In the world of video games, community managers are kind of like the new kids on the block. They’re pretty trendy but not everyone understands why they’re here.

The role might be new, but the tricks of the community management trade are anything but. Under the many hats a CM wears, there’s always a hint of marketing sewn in. Knowing your product inside and out—perks and faults alike—helps them build trust in it. 

Including a CM early in the development cycle will not only allow them to understand the product through its core-mechanics, features, and limitations, it will give them—and the marketing team—a fantastic opportunity to start building your online community pre-launch.

This, in turn, will help them present the game to your audience in a way that highlights the best while setting realistic expectations. Moreover, they’ll be prepared to explain possible limitations or bugs in a way players can accept.

(3) CMs Give Your Community A Voice

A game community manager is both the shield that protects the dev team’s core and the portal that ensures critical player issues are brought to the table. This role is vital, all the way to the sprint planning and roadmaps.

It’s a balancing act between worlds, acting as the bridge and the transportation, carrying important nuances, feelings, and experiences from one side to the other. 

A good CM can read between the lines and filter the root feelings behind different kinds of feedback. They can sort through emotional outbursts and collect the valuable input behind harsh comments on new updates or features, giving the game team relevant information to process.

Are players simply showing signs of change resistance, or bringing up a problem that needs to be addressed? How high of a priority is it, and will if affect the development schedule? What can and should be done? How should this be communicated to the product team? How do we communicate the results back to the players? What were our key learnings from the changes?

An involved community manager with a spot on the development can answer these questions and validate these concerns. They remind us that we make games for players as much as we do for business, and it’s only with the players that we can thrive.

When there’s someone to listen, players can be very honest and open about revealing important information. They might echo and strengthen what the team is already guessing and pondering, such as a bug or exploitable feature.  

When devs and CMs work together as a team, we generate powerful and actionable insights that reports and data alone cannot deliver.

(4) CMs Bring Out The Power Of Community

As we’ve seen in cases like EA’s “sorry not sorry” (a comment which got so many downvotes it won a world-record), players have amazing power at their fingertips and they can use it to either harm or help an entire company. How do you make the most out of it and ensure it doesn’t work against you? With community management as your safety net. 

Because a game community manager is in just the right position to harness community power.

As a whole, the video game industry owes a debt of gratitude to active player communities that produce content for our companies. Whether it's YouTube videos, live streams, eSports or in-game event initiatives, player tutorials, or simply active communication, active online community members are the lifeblood of our games.

That being said, there’s always the danger of things going south, veering toward harmful and toxic content or an overload of generic fluff that doesn’t benefit communities. Here, once again, community managers come into play. By setting the rules and guidelines and working hands-on with players, CMs can steer the content and communication toward topics and ideas that will bring positive results. 

Let’s say you’re launching a new game. You want to get featured to boost your starting path—we all know that struggle. But your community can help! And if you’ve had a game


It’s often a simple matter of getting players to understand how significant of a difference they can make. With a friendly push, your community can be encouraged to help with localization fixes, write reviews, and create a buzz that will strengthen your position in the global market.

(5) Community Managers Elevate Your Brand

We love seeing community managers with personality, people who proudly represent their game and company. However, they must be empowered to do so. 

We often talk about CMs engaging the players, but what about being the name and face of the game? The deeper we integrate CMs in the dev team and let them digest their hard work, dreams, and effort, the more we connect the person to the product. And the more you connect community manager jobs to the product, the more you enable them to elevate your brand.

Your entire team must have a common understanding of how to present your brand. A game community manager should neither make this decision alone nor be left out of the creation process. 

If you don’t make your CM part of the core team and they feel like they’re just posting your updates, it’ll be easy for them to ditch your company and move to another. The gaming industry is known for high employee turnover, after all. 

Game community managers often build a loyal following and, in worst-case scenarios, games can lose players when their CM leaves.

Game community managers use their personal brand to present the company and its games to the masses. That often means more than just players, by the way. CMs can represent you in the news, at conferences and events, for local video game communities, and possibly even in front of investors. (Remember, online community managers drive engagement; no players, no game.) 

Regardless of the audience, they must represent your brand with pride and certainty. Back up your CM, and they’ll bolster your players, product, and brand.


In Summary

Players are the lifeblood of your game, so it stands to reason that game development and community building should go hand-in-hand.

Include community managers in your core team because:

  • They help your devs choose features that are worth building.

  • They give your players a voice and harness their power in your favor.

  • They build trust in your product and elevate your brand.



P.S. If you like what you’ve read here, we’ve got a free 22-page Game Community Management book waiting just for you. Sign up to our monthly newsletter to get your hands on it today!


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