You’ve released a fantastic game that you’re especially proud of and created profiles on all the major social media channels. So why don’t you have any followers? Why isn’t anyone talking about you?
If the above sounds familiar, then it’s time to get serious about a core characteristic of the modern video games industry: community. To put it simply, for your game to become a real success, it needs to have a solid fan base empowered by a strong community that you’re regularly involved in.
Communities provide developers and publishers the opportunity to reach out to players and learn from their experiences. Not only that, but a strong community will keep a games alive longer. In fact, some communities even outlast developers to such an extent that they thrive for years after the game is long past its projected lifespan.
So how’s it done? In four easy steps.
Step 1: Understand Your Target Audience
Just like any artistic endeavor, a successful video game is the product of genuine enthusiasm and interest. That’s why great games are made by gamers themselves. These are the developers who see themselves in their target audiences and have a deep understanding of what their players want.
That’s also why you should start building your gaming community as you start developing your game, particularly if you’ve opted to go down the early-access route.
While it’s wise to initially define your target audience by drawing up some personas of your ideal players, you should always take a long-term approach towards gaining a better understanding of your audience.
By adopting a player-centric philosophy, you’ll build a community that empowers players by giving them a say in the future of your project.
Remember, community-building is an ongoing learning experience.
Step 2: Get Social
Every developer or publisher should maintain a presence on the major social media platforms, because that’s where everyone is. For example, Twitter is great for brief news updates and release announcements, while Facebook is good for sharing your latest blog posts.
But the real hub of your community is your website, and that’s also where you have the most control.
By setting up a community forum on your website, you have a convenient and centralized hub to easily track player sentiment, ask for feedback and gain insights into your target audience. What’s more, you have full control over the look and feel of your community hub and the ability to easily weed out trolls and other toxic individuals who could give your game a bad name.
Step 3: Show People What You (And Your Players) Have Got
While it helps to be a strong leader when building your gaming community, it’s even more important to be actively involved. That means demonstrating your authority by showing people what you’ve got. As your fan base expands, more and more people will vy for your attention, demanding regular updates.
Many players love having an inside look at the development process, so it’s important to give them plenty to talk about. After all, no one wants to follow some faceless brand that’s disengaged from its audience.
To keep your audience active, complement your community forums with a development blog and regular community showcase of user-created content that rewards your most engaged players.
Step 4: Never Mislead Your Players
These days, anyone can say whatever they like about your game and brand online. That’s why building a community through transparency and consistent involvement is so important. If you use your game’s community to mislead players, however, you’ll quickly be met with a chorus of disapproval.
Instead, studios should acknowledge legitimate concerns and admit when they’re wrong. After all, a successful gaming community is usually one that developers are an active part of, placing themselves among their players and leading by example.