Modern gaming has come a long way. No longer is it a solitary experience like before. Now, there are many different gaming communities to join, each catering to their very own audiences, all of them a click away. But just why are these communities so important to video games? Are the communities that congregate on these sites really that useful? To a developer, the population of a gaming community highlights several important things that may be overlooked, and we’re here to show just why they shouldn’t be underestimated.
An active community is a healthy one
The biggest help these communities provide is all on the fact that they help with player retention. Places like Discord and Twitter house hundreds of avid gamers eager to discuss their favorite games. As humans are social creatures, the ability for your fans to connect keeps them constantly invested. When they can also share their positive experiences with other like-minded individuals, your games change from being a creative outlet into a social avenue they can enjoy. This, in turn, ensures that they keep playing and returning to these same communities, especially when they can bond with other community members.
This phenomenon is seen even in primarily single-player games like Dark Souls, Total War, and The Elder Scrolls. These titanic franchises all have loyal communities that share helpful posts with one another. They bond over their gaming interests, which translate to higher player retention and long-term player loyalty. They have an avid interest in your future games.
Useful repositories for information and feedback
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that these groups are just social outlets, either. Many of these gaming communities take it upon themselves to help spread information about their favorite games. They pay close attention to your games' updates, follow whatever news you release, and help redistribute patch notes and updates when possible. Moreover, they even comment on their feelings about it, making them an important source of feedback. Not only do you get your players excited, but you also have the added benefit of collating their responses and seeing firsthand what they think about it. You’ll get to see what parts of the game they enjoyed the most and what parts they're looking forward to, both incredible boons in the game development process.
There's also the added benefit of them helping you find bugs and exploits much easier. Communities like these are often the home of a game's most dedicated players. If anyone among them is going to find issues, it'll be the ones who've played your game the most. Their experiences will prove vital during bug-fixing, especially when your Q&A team uses their feedback.
Bigger audiences, bigger reach
The population of a gaming community isn’t to be underestimated. Having big communities is the sign of a popular game and these same communities house active fan bases you can market your future games to. In turn, the members of this same community will gladly help promote products to friends and loved ones. These word-of-mouth recommendations are powerful tools, as glowing reviews from trusted sources can easily sway newcomers into trying out your games.
And that's just the start of it. Social media figures who enjoy participating in your game are likelier to recommend it to their fanbase. The presence of influencers, cosplayers, and artists can give you a wider reach, as their spreading of original content can go viral and sway someone into giving your products a look. Even something as simple as videos on a YouTube channel can be the first step in turning curious onlookers into loyal fans.
These things are possible only if you keep your gaming communities alive. But how do you do it?
Engage your community - Engage and excite
The easiest way to maintain an active community is to engage with them whenever possible. Be willing to hold events that benefit the community as a whole. Find a way to give back to them for their loyalty. Giveaways, contests, and prizes go a long way toward making your fans feel appreciated. It also makes for good promotional material, encouraging them to stay invested and to check your social media for new content and prizes. Your personal connection with your fans will pay off in the long term, especially if you manage to earn their goodwill.
However, don't forget that the primary rule for these events is always good communication, even for something as simple as distributing news and advertisements. Hiring a good community manager goes a long way, as they’ll be able to help you with growing your fanbase. Your community manager will help smooth things over with disgruntled fans, facilitate interest by starting discussions, and be a useful filter when sorting through fan feedback. Their presence will show that you, as a developer, care about their input and keep your fans satisfied for your future releases.
Image courtesy of Christin Hume at Unsplash
Don't underestimate the strength of a gaming community. Their influence might seem limited, but they're a great way of keeping your games visible to the public eye.
This article was written by Alexander Ryan Ong Cuaycong