We make strategy games here at Nitro Games. Ever since our first game, the East India Company back in 2009, we’ve seen how important it is to have a well-maintained community. Our focus is now on mobile F2P strategy games. Essentially this means that our games are games as a service.
Therefore we feel it’s essential to have a strong community, lead by the right community manager, to ensure we sustain our audience through the lifecycle of the game. This is especially critical when the game is going through significant changes. You need to be able to communicate these with the community. In best case such changes are actually driven by the community through product feedback.
Our approach to community management heavily relies on prosumers. Prosumers for us are players who are not just passionate about the game, but also investing a considerable amount of their time in engaging with our community of players as well as with our brand through our community manager.
Our strategy in building our community revolves around identifying our core prosumers and design a game for them. In the long run, our prosumers become our loyal brand advocates, as they are a never-ending source of help for us. Many of them actually become part of our global support by assisting other playersthrough the tools we’ve provided for them (in-game communication tools, social media, online forums and so on). All these tools together, used by our players, prosumers and us together define the ecosystem we call our community.
I wanted to share a few of the learnings here that we’ve made along the way. These hopefully benefit other game communities as well.
- You should always pay back loyalty. Gaining trust from your community is never easy. You need to keep your promises to players and be on their side. Honesty and personal interaction are vital here. If your valued customer shares something with you, you’d better be able to do the same thing.
- Be human.. All the tools out there are not going to help you, if your customers feel like they’re dealing with a robot or some process driven customer support person. Our community manager, Ida, is not only talented with all the tools and processes out there, but also very strong in personal relationships. She has also been a part of the gaming community throughout her life. We feel it’s essential that our community is driven by someone who is not only a gamer at heart, but also can communicate in a warm and personable way.
- Measuring the ROI of communities can be tricky. What’s the ROI of treating customers as human beings? What's the ROI of using one minute more in each customer case to make the reply more personalized? Sometimes numbers are hard to explain, and the KPI's to follow are tricky to determine if the goal is too wide. With F2P mobile game analytics ,we have all these methods for estimating how many users we reach through viral elements of our games, but defining the value of a long term prosumer is not mathematical. It’s simply priceless.
- Listen more. Talk less. Interacting in small talk with your community is guaranteed to give you insights into your customers that you cannot gain with focus group testing, analytics and other methods. You make the game for players, so you should definitely listen what they have to say about it.
The tools, methods and people you have working with your community should reflect the fact that your customers are human beings. A community done right will give loyal and passionate fans a place to call home.
So while social media is great for brand awareness, it is only one small piece of the puzzle. A strong branded community brings like-minded members together, attracts new customers and more than anything helps ensure the success of your main business objectives.
Jussi Tähtinen is CEO and co-founder of Finnish mobile game company Nitro Games. Nitro Games is an awarded developer with a decade of experience in making strategy games. Jussi has been with Nitro Games since the beginning. What started as a love for playing strategy games turned into a success story of a game developer delivering several successful strategy games with strong community following. Their release Raids of Glory won the Best Social Game Award in Game Connection development awards as a recognition of the team's hard work in making a game for the players, listening to the players.