In the old days, gaming was a predominantly solitary affair. Sure, there were enormously popular titles, including little-known single-player games with intimate cult followings, but there were few opportunities for developers and players alike to build thriving communities.
Today, the power of online social communities has changed all that. We’re now even seeing entire genres and platforms (think the Amiga 500+ or Super Nintendo) being revived after decades of inactivity. In fact, there are now online communities dedicated to games that haven’t been in the charts for over twenty years, as well as a tendency to draw upon this nostalgia to inspire the development of newer takes on older titles.
A Gaming Community for Every Genre
Old-fashioned developers might be forgiven for assuming that gaming communities only concern multiplayer video games, especially MMOs, which are, of course, inherently community-driven experiences anyway. But the power of community transcends the distinction of genre. Every game now needs its own dedicated community to keep up with the times and remain competitive. The fact is, people are going to talk about the games they love anyway, so you might as well leverage this fact to build up your marketing efforts and better nurture your player base. God forbid if, by contrast, you’re not actively involved in your community. You’ll have no influence over its direction.
Developing your own dedicated player community, such as by implementing an on-site forum, not only gives you the opportunity to steer the conversation but also to avoid toxic behavior, which is a problem that affects many popular multiplayer titles. For both multiplayer and singleplayer games, communities are a powerful marketing tool that can help keep your game in the charts longer in one of the fastest-moving industries of all.
Take it a step further by making it easier for your most avid players to build mods for your game. In fact, player-created content is one of the most common ways some games maintain their places in the limelight for years after their releases. One only needs to turn to the enormously popular Nexus Mods to see how older games, such as 2011’s Skyrim and even it’s 2006 predecessor Oblivion, are being kept alive by thriving modding communities.
Communities Drive the Direction of the Gaming Industry
Almost every industry has seen profound transformation in recent years thanks to user-generated content in the form of online reviews and social media communities. It therefore shouldn’t come as any surprise that these communities have driven the evolution of the gaming industry too. For too long, many developers have demonstrated that they’re out of touch with what their players want – particularly among massive AAA studios, despite their large marketing, research and development budgets.
Let’s thank the power of online communities for the unprecedented rise in crowdfunded projects and indie video game titles in recent years. We’ve seen a huge revival of genres long since abandoned, such as real-time strategy, old-school pixel graphics and simulation and micromanagement games.
Cognizant developers are capitalizing on these gaps in the market by re-releasing updated versions of their old classics, such as Age of Empires: Definitive Edition and Doom 2016. In other words, gaming communities aren’t just keeping old games in the public view – they’re transforming the whole industry, and that’s something no developer or publisher can afford to ignore.