Game publishing is a competitive business where success depends on many factors. Here are just a couple we know you think about:
- Conversion from free or trial to paying
- Player abandonment rates
- Finding gameplay bottlenecks that cause frustration
- Game lifespan
- Cross-selling other titles
One of the best ways to ensure success with these goals is the use of a branded community.
Why A Branded Player Community?
A branded community forum makes the overall player experience richer and can significantly drive your financial goals. Here are some ways to make your player forum work better and help you achieve your business objectives:
1 - Don't wait until the a game is launched. People get excited when they see early PR but if they have nowhere to talk, you lose out. Start building your community as soon as you announce a beta date so potential customers can join the conversation rather than scatter to other places around the web and forget about your release. A forum is also a great way to collect beta feedback, create buzz and build momentum leading up to the launch.
2- Provide a consistent look and feel. The community forum should look as good as the game, or at least your main website. The goal is to provide a consistent visual identity across all your properties. You can even incorporate game lingo. This reinforces your brand and reminds players of what makes your game unique. Other ways to do this, for example, is to allow community members to choose their favourite characters as avatars, or create membership levels or roles that reflect aspects of the game experience.
3- Centralize your community in one place. When you're starting out, it can be tempting to offload your community to Facebook and Reddit while using Twitter as a customer service channel. By promoting player to player and publisher to player discussions in your community, you can reduce your customer service costs while improving the level of service. There is also an SEO benefit by driving search engine traffic to your domain that is now full of great content like game-walk throughs and videos. By making all this great, rich content available in one place, you provide players with a central location to talk about your game and interact with other like-minded players.
4 - Use the community as a marketing channel. Not only is all the content in your community good for SEO, you've got a captive audience to which you can display ads for special offers and other titles. Providing incentives to register on the forum is a great way to grow your email list. It's also a great source of content for monthly emails from user generated art to tips and tricks that players discover. You can even consider a player spotlight for outstanding contributors.
5- Reward your top contributors. A critical mass of 'regulars' can help the community grow beyond a place to discuss game strategy. This keeps people coming back for the social aspect and can increase the lifespan of the game. Award ranks and special badges to the top contributors. Open up a VIP section where players can interact with developers. Set email notifications to notify members of relevant activity to keep them coming back.
6- Use it to improve the product. Create a category called "product feedback" and encourage developers and community moderators to actively participate. When people are connected and engaged with your community, they are more likely to take the time to provide detailed and useful feedback. When you start to see the same issue or roadblocks come up, it will be easy to take action. Later, when your community gets too huge, you can dump the forum content into semantic analysis software to help identify things that are causing negative sentiment.
Achieve Your Business Objectives With A Community
A community done right will give loyal and passionate fans a place to call home. Happy fans also make great brand ambassadors on social media. So while social media is great for brand awareness, it is only one 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.
Vanilla Forums is great for gaming and gaming accessory companies. Check out a sample in our showcase of gaming companies who are already using Vanilla to connect with their fans and players. Ready to get started? Try Vanilla Forums Cloud Solution free for 30-days.