Block Party

Block Party
How to Win Friends and Influence Gamers

Ryan Shwayder | 21 Nov 2006 11:04
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The way you treat your players when communicating with them is also very important. I've always made sure to be upfront and honest when communicating with players. They are intelligent. They see through the BS. Tell them the truth, and tell it to them as early as you can. I never made false promises I knew I couldn't keep.

I also make sure to be fun and open with players. The post that went over better than any I can remember was "A Closer Look at SOE," in which we played on a post made by a player and made fun of ourselves, complete with pictures.

But there's no success without failure, and during my time at SOE, I definitely had a few. In one particular case, we got it in our heads that it would be a great idea to contact guild leaders from other games and offer them free access to EQII. Bad move. It backfired, earning us negative press and very little positive response (if any). Long story short, some guild leaders took great offense to us approaching them, and it engendered a lot of ill will toward SOE and the game. It took a whole lot of effort and returned badly, even though we never expected anyone to be insulted when we offered them free stuff.

For future reference, here are some general guidelines when you build your next community and want to take it further than the norm:

Do things that are genuinely kind. Give the military a discount on their subscription, give students a discount on their subscription, give seniors a discount on their subscription. Create family plans that allow for a certain number of accounts to fall under one blanket, making the per-account subscription cheaper. Donate a portion of the proceeds to charity. People know when you're truly trying to be a helpful company, and that builds reputation.

Spread connectivity to your game further. Let people chat with players in-game from their cell phones via text messaging, email, etc. Keep everyone in touch, and they'll want to keep playing and spreading the word.

Keep up with the trends. Blog, make podcasts, create videos for the game, make MySpace pages and simply make sure to take advantage of every free or cheap method you can use to get to players.

Don't ever ignore your game's community. They are the lifeblood of an online game and should be considered more than just customers. Stay in touch with the players, and treat them with respect. Be honest, and don't be afraid to have fun - after all, that's why we play games in the first place!

Ryan Shwayder has been named Community Relations Manager/Designer at GMG
and will be working to establish the company's presence through the web and
other media. He volunteers his time for local IGDA chapters and is known for his game development blog at Nerfbat.com.

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