Why You Should Invest More in Community Management

 
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At a glance:

  • How to invest in your in-game community

  • Incorporating player feedback into your content updates

  • Handling VIP players and increasing monetization


Too often, Community Management is an afterthought—a freebie tossed in the shopping bag at check out.

Though the gaming ecosystem is rapidly changing, many developers still think of giving players a platform to share and socialize on as an extra. Hyper casuals on Mobile might be an exception to this because they expect to churn players in a matter of days, or weeks if lucky. However, most games are nothing like that.

To the contrary, as developers, we want to do everything we can to keep our players around for as long as possible.

Luckily, the gaming world has adapted to suit just that. Long gone are the days where you would buy a physical game cartridge or CD, play to the highest level, and that would be it. In the digital era, games have much more to offer and for that players stay around far longer.

Also long gone: the days of 50-cent mobile user acquisitions for mid- and hard-core games. Instead, in the current games-as-a-service ecosystem, you can continually remonetize in-game purchases and DLC—as long as you can keep players (and payers) around long enough to reinvest in you.

And that’s exactly where community comes in.

Community Equals Revenue

It’s quite obvious that your most vocal community members are your biggest fans, but how much they are worth might not be as plain to see. Turns out, they’re pretty valuable.

At GDC 2018, Nico Nottin talked about how Flaregames was able to attribute 60-80% of their monthly revenue in Zombie Gunship Survival to active community members. To capitalize on this, they pushed updates with community feedback in mind and successfully increased monetization.

With Yodo1, we’ve found that this is true across cultures as well.

While working on Transformers Earth Wars in China, the publishing team realized that 75% of the game’s spenders were active community members. In response, Yodo1 spun up a special community taskforce to handle top spenders.

With attentiveness to these VIPs, bundles were designed to meet players’ wants and needs. This resulted in a 100% increase in revenue over the past year and a solid boost in monetization depth. In fact, lifetime revenue from top spenders rose from just under five figures, US dollars, to six figures.

How to Keep Your Players Connected

It’s all about connection.

So much of what we invest time and money into is aimed at human connection. Think about grabbing drinks after work, going out with friends, eating at a restaurant, or just about any special thing you’d do. We’re typically willing to spend more money on things we share with others because these experiences are more meaningful and more valuable.

Just so, in an online world, players want to be connected to their friends and to the developers of their favorite games. They want to share their gaming experience with others and develop a feeling of closeness with and loyalty to a game and its makers. Not surprisingly, the games they want to play are ones they feel connected to—games that have been made for or modified with them in mind.

There are a number of great ways to keep players connected. Here are a few examples:

  • Build an embedded community

  • Gather feedback for new content and designs

  • Run regular contests

  • Give merchandise as prizes

  • Create events

  • Encourage player behavior and user-generated content



Why Build Embedded Communities?

Community Managers have a plethora of traditional sources to choose from when it comes to building communities.

Platforms like Twitch, Discord, and Reddit are great tools of choice for many community managers. Kolibri games (formerly Fluffy Fairy) does a lot of community management on Facebook, where they proactively engage their fans and players.  

In an article about redefining community management, Christine Ford discusses the value of embracing and marketing the feedback-first mentality to gaming.

As a community manager, she makes herself very visible in Warframe’s vibrant online forums . After working through their “fair share of toxicity” and “pitchfork moments”, she has even been able to foster a community where veteran players take time to welcome newcomers.

Of course, not every online forum can pull this off. Most games will find that a very small percentage of players actually interact with their community forums or Facebook pages.

Realizing how difficult it is to get players to actually log into and follow forums outside of the game, standout mobile games like Rodeo Stampede and Soul Knight have taken it a step further and built embedded communities.

In their case, the numbers say everything. Some of the events in Rodeo Stampede's embedded community were able to engage over 35% of their player base to participate in their activities.

With these events and activities, community managers are using in-game social hubs to gather feedback for new character designs and content, and showing us that content built by the community, for the community engages players on a much more satisfying level.

Word-of-Mouth Marketing through Events & Contests

Regular contests keep players feeling connected with the game, as well as other community members. Ultimately, these connections encourage players to stay longer—and spend more.

Additionally, sending winners of regular contests physical merchandise is a great way to encourage word-of-mouth marketing.

 
“Where did you get that awesome T-shirt, Buzz?”    “I won it playing Hempire!”

“Where did you get that awesome T-shirt, Buzz?”

“I won it playing Hempire!”

 

Hempire gives physical merchandise like t-shirts and hoodies to its players as prizes for regular contests such as their bi-weekly fan art competition where they send out free swag (T-shirts) to their winners.

In addition to contests, community managers can create events to encourage player behavior and user-generated content.

Rodeo Stampede’s video-sharing event in KTplay is a great example of this.

During this event, players were encouraged to create videos on Douyin—the Chinese version of Tiktok. The videos went viral and garnered 21 million videos. For players, payout came in the form of in-game rewards. And Rodeo Stampede? They walked away with a 97% increase in organic downloads over the duration of the event.

 

Let Your Community Spread the Word!

In short, your in-game community is an excellent platform for word-of-mouth marketing—a timeless and effective way to sell just about anything.

While word-of-mouth advertising may be a lot harder to measure than performance-based campaigns, it is the key to driving support for your game—and it all starts with community.

Thumbnail background photo credit: techcrunch.com


In summary:

  • Invest in your in-game community by organizing events and encouraging player behavior.

  • Welcome player feedback and incorporate it into your content updates to engage community members and increase monetization.

  • Treat active community members like the VIPs they are; they will bring other valuable players to the game if given the right avenues to do so.

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