It’s The Little Things That Gamers Love
Online games have thriving online communities. This much seems obvious even at a casual glance. Between forums, guilds, image boards, Twitter, and Facebook groups, there are a many ways for players to connect with other fans, and share their experiences. Many times, these experiences are great! There’s nothing a game developer wants more than to visit the official forums and see a plethora of positive interactions and fan-love coming their way. Sometimes, however, fans that have had bad experiences will vent publicly, and this behavior can turn potential customers away.
Developers can make a huge stride by taking the effort in fostering good will amongst their players and fans! Here are a few examples where a game company can turn a potentially bad situation into a great one:
1. Refunds. They are tricky business: a customer wants their money back, and yet the company exists to make money. It may seem like a refund is the exact opposite of the company’s goal, so why would they ever refund a purchase?
When you honor a refund request, customers feel acknowledged, and the pain or anger they had towards your brand is reduced. So often customers misjudge an impulse buy, or miss the fine details associated to a virtual purchase, or the dreaded “My child just spent $200 in your game without my permission. Fix this!”
By acknowledging their need and acquiescing to the request, the customer often feels vindicated and even appreciative of your company’s efforts. We, in Customer Service, have even seen customers continue to play and purchase additional content.
2. Don’t neglect the fan-sites! Official forums are great, but gamers are gravitating toward un-official, community-operated sites/groups. They’re havens of passionate, super-engaged people. If you want an open and honest opinion, you’re much more likely to find that opinion on an active fan site. One website that is home to a mini fan-site for almost every game is the notorious Reddit. Users create “subreddits” which function similarly to a forum devoted to a single game, or even a developer’s whole catalog.
Jeremy Gaffney, Executive Producer for upcoming big budget MMORPG Wildstar, is active in his game’s unsponsored, non-official subreddit. He’s a perfect example of a developer who cultivates and engages with his audience in an open environment. As one story goes, Mr. Gaffney read a post by a Reddit user who accidentally bought a game for $20 that looked similar to Wildstar, but was not the correct game. Since Wildstar was still in development at that time, the user clearly was misled. Mr. Gaffney refunded the user, regardless of the fact the game was not his, and the money spent originally did not go to his company. To add awesomeness to this action, he also offered a $20 bill with custom art by the game’s art team! Although Mr. Gaffney lost money with his actions, he gained large amounts of respect and good will from the fans.
Gamers are passionate, and they are very engaged with their fellow fans. True, such passion thrives along the “fine line between love and hate,” but ultimately it can be harnessed to create larger, deeper relationship between games, brands, and fans. It just takes a little effort and willingness to be understanding and engage with your audience, and go that extra mile. You’ll earn more than just a price of sale for it.