You’ve got a game released and you’ve garnered some sales. Congratulations! It’s no easy feat getting where you are now. What should come next? How about making sure you’re keeping your gaming community engaged.
Targeting the right customers to purchase your game is amazing. You’ll generally receive feedback via reviews upon your initial release as people pick up and try out the game. As more people try it out, the higher the chances of your game getting mentioned on social media, review sites, and features. But what happens when people who bought your game get bored? They’ll move on and talk about something else. Slowly, you’ll see your game’s sales and buzz disappearing.
Obviously, this happens to all games. There rarely are games who are able to keep up as good a traction as they did when their game was first announced (this is why day 1 traction and coverage is so important). But, you should do everything that you can to make sure the people who have decided to play your game are given a reason to stay and return. This, in turn, will encourage them to continue talking about it and perhaps even bring new people on. Do this successfully and you’ll have an engaged community!
So what are some things you can do so that your players don’t drop off? Let’s take a look:
Listen to your player’s feedback
How are you currently getting feedback from your players? Do you have a well laid out form? An in-game bug reporting system? Or do you not have a proper channel to receive feedback?
If you fall into the last category, you may want to sort out a way for players to pass along their comments and bugs. Otherwise, they’ll have to turn to other methods to reach out to you such as calling you out on social media or leaving a negative review to get your attention. You may not have to do anything fancy. Encouraging your players to reach out to you via a feedback email may be all that is needed. As long as it’s not too time consuming to submit a complaint and it’s clear where they’re supposed to do it, it’ll give them a proper channel to communicate with you.
Responding to player feedback
When you get feedback, you’re not obligated to make changes based on one dissatisfied player (though you should respond to them!). Receive a few more negative comments in a similar vein and you should look into the problem. The issue may take a month to fix, it could take three days. Either way, keep your gaming community updated whether it’s through your Steam community’s “news” section or social media. Tell people what the issue is and what’s being done to fix it.
Nothing brings a positive game experience more than a responsive developer/team. The game can have kinks, it could have bugs, but knowing that someone is there actively trying to make the game better is plenty of reason for a gamer to stay to see the final product. It doesn’t even have to be a problem that a gamer reported themselves. It could just be you tackling an issue they were having that someone else also complained about. Despite not having been directly in contact with them, they’ll see your efforts nonetheless. Make your community feel that their comments are valued and that they aren’t ignored.
Your game may not be an online multiplayer game, but that doesn’t mean you can’t form a competition around it. Got the ability to make custom maps? Challenge your community to come up with new, creative maps! Want content creators to share their thoughts on the game in video form? Offer a reward for the video with highest shares (or to make this fairer, you could randomly draw a name from videos submitted during a certain timeframe)! You could even challenge your community to a speed run.
A good tip is that competition is a key factor that draws players back. If your game intends itself to have a longer tail of distribution, this should have been considered in your game design.
Similar to competitions, see if you can capitalize on prominent holidays/happenings in your game. For example, Overcooked’s Festive Seasoning DLC gave people a reason to return to the game and share it with their family and friends over the holiday period. Overwatch frequently has celebration events, ranging from Halloween ones to the more recent Overwatch Uprising that introduced a new game mode and built on the game’s lore. It doesn’t always have to be new content. Pokemon Go attracts users back by offering increased spawn rates for certain types of Pokemon and increased rewards. Players are encouraged to come back to the game or put more hours into it during a certain timeframe without Niantic having to drastically add to the game.
You don’t have to introduce changes based around a certain event. You can improve or add to your game in just regular updates—which most developers do. Knowing that a game is frequently or consistenly updated is a great reason for players to purchase a game. Nothing turns off someone more than knowing that support for the game has ended and that no one will be there to add to or fix the game anymore. That’s usually when a game is getting ready to retire. You do not want that to be the impression your game is giving to gamers when it’s still going through its lifecycle.
Get a Discord channel
So this isn’t limited to Discord—it just so happens that Discord is the platform of choice for many games these days. If you’d rather have a Facebook group, run a forum, or something along the same lines of this, it’d work just as well.
Keeping an open line of communication with your community members (and allowing them to connect to one another) does wonders for community building. Of course, it won’t just be you on Discord. When other community members join, they’re able to befriend one another and also help each other out. Feel free to reach out on your established community channel when you have something that needs testing or if you have questions. Make them feel rewarded by promoting certain key gaming community members in the Discord by giving them more moderator rights. Got a new build coming up? You may consider rewarding people in your Discord with the opportunity to try it out first.
Do make sure people know that official complaints or feedback should be sent to a certain email/location so that valuable info doesn’t get lost amongst the conversations (or worst—people thinking they’re purposely ignored).
Saying thank you
Whether you choose to send out stickers, give out in-game items, or write a blog post as a gesture of thanks, let your players know that they’re appreciated. After all, if it weren’t for them, your game would not be where it is. No matter how big or small your community is, it’s nice to know that the creators of the game are taking a moment to give their gratitude. Has it been a year since your game’s release? Have you reached 1,000 concurrent players? When’s a good time to say thanks? Probably when you actually feel thankful. Don’t overdo it, and there’s no need to constantly bombard people with thanks. But do it at significant times to show you recognize their support and the value they bring to your game.
Seen other great ways games have kept their players engaged? Or have you felt connected to a game in a particular way even years after its release? Feel free to share with us in the comments section below!