How Community Managers Can Flip Game Shutdowns and Thrive
Sure, the industry is a numbers game and there will always be products that fail (especially those which never reach critical mass, such as the above examples).
Gamers don’t worry about their wallets as much as they once did. On the contrary, their most valuable resource is time. There simply isn’t enough time in the day to play everything so they must choose.
With this in mind, it’s important to consider all possible scenarios: your game may not survive, no matter how well you develop, promote and support it.
As a community manager, you know your game’s players better than anyone else on the team. You determine the strength of the community and identify player complaints and preferences.
You know if the community is dying. But more importantly, you know if your players are aware of it. If the unspeakable should happen and you get the order to orchestrate a community shutdown, will you know what to do? Will you recognize the signs?
Advice typically goes in two directions based on your personal situation, which is broken down below:
If you’re fortunate enough to have existing titles to promote, a community shutdown could breathe new life into an older product. By carefully coordinating development and promotional efforts, you can give your product a graceful exit while turning an older game into the “next big thing.”
Don’t Wait for One Game to Shut Down Before Working on Another
You must put more work into a shutdown than a “last day to play” message. Carefully craft and promote reasons for players to play, or even upgrade to your other games.
Did the new features in Fightmatch 2018 not do as well as you hoped, leading players to check out your competition? Quick! Before it’s too late, remind them that none of those features are present in Fightmatch 2017, which is receiving an exclusive expansion that’s free for owners of the 2018 version of the game.
Do what you can to keep players interested in your work, and try to shift their focus before your competition seizes the opportunity to poach your community.
If this is your first and only title, don’t be discouraged! Everyone’s first commercial game is an invaluable learning experience.
However, if your game fails and you don’t have anything else to promote, you’re severely limiting yourself when marketing your next work and building a new community from the ground up.
They say it’s 5 to 25 times more expensive to acquire new customers. Even if your last game fell short of expectations, these players are still past customers and will be easier to reacquire.
Remind your players of the team behind the title. Let them know that there are real people behind the game. This approach will be especially helpful when you need to deliver the bad news and offer opportunities to transfer to other games.