Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Casual Connect 2013: Community Building in Free-to-Play Games: Beyond Whale Hunting

moderated by Mike Thompson, Creative Writer, 5th Planet Games
·         Summary: Constantly talk to your users and give them a platform to talk to each other, run creative contests to engage fans who aren’t the hardcore gamers, and be careful about talking about future content.
·         Panelists include Robert Winkler (CEO, 5th Planet Games), Mike Sego (Gaming Entrepeneur), Ken Seto (CEO & Founder, Massive Damage), Josh Nilson (COO & Co-founder, East Side Games), and Bryan Mashinter (Producer, Backflip Studios).
·         Build the community by incentivizing posting and engaging fans so that they feel like they’re building the game with you. Talk to your users and give them a platform to talk to each other, such as a forum or a live chat. Let the ragers and haters know there is someone else on the other side, and they’ll usually act more polite.
·         Allow them to play with the game when they’re not playing the game. Extend the content of the game outside the screen. Games should stand on their own and have a community outside of its platform. Give shout outs to fan sites.
·         It’s okay to A/B test even with live chats. People generally don’t chat about how much money they spend so they won’t expose the A/B testing. Even if they do, it’s okay. Be honest with your players and let them know what you’re doing.
·         Have volunteer moderators and allow the forums to be self-policing. Volunteers often become your first-line champions and evangelists.
·         If you have the money, have player councils and fly all these special players out to the office to have group meetings with the team.
·         Sometimes a community is passionate about a game, but it doesn’t mean it transfers to another title the company is making.
·         Don’t speak about upcoming features because people take it as a promise and will get upset if the feature is ever cut later. If you say something is “coming soon,” it should mean that it’s coming in the next 24 hours.
·         Have a thick skin against haters. Embrace your mistakes, apologize, and make up for it. Be creative and turn your failures and bugs into features.
·         There are currently two types of monetization methods – monetize those who want to decorate and monetize those who are impatient. In the future, we will monetize people who want to help other players. We will get smarter about the LTV of non-paying users who are generally great word-of-mouth.
·         Run silly contests like costume contests and singing competitions. This will convert people to your forums and will engage fans who aren’t into leaderboards.
·         Give people virtual currency or achievement for posting in the forums.

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