A skill that is often lost on developers these days is how to interact with their fan base. There are plenty of cases where a development studio comes up with amazing ideas and implementations but because they are inept on the marketing side of things, their ideas become lost to the masses due to communication breakdowns or even no communication at all. People often think that developers thrive on “word of mouth” type campaigns where their game is just good enough that fans will do their marketing for them, but 99% of the time this is not the case and YOU need to communicate with your fans what is going on. Below are three great ways to get your messages out to your fans and ways to interact with them to make your game better and more enjoyable.
Be as transparent as possible
Create a blog and roll out a weekly development update that will posted there that details your goals and implementations on the process of building the game. Take feedback from your fans in comments so you can adapt to what they enjoy. Be focused on conveying the exact approaches you are taking and the direction you want the game to flow. If there are components that end up hindering the games experience or cause roadblocks in the development process, communicate those problems to your fan base through your weekly update and let them know how you plan on resolving the issues.
Even if you have to communicate about bad decisions or hindrances, fans will respect that you have gone out of your way to let them know what is going on. Make the fans feel like they are part of the process and that their opinions truly matter to you (They should always matter to you but you need to communicate that you understand their feelings). This all goes a very long way in helping to build up your studios credibility.
Try your best to not be abrasive
When you come across some criticism, (and believe me when I say you WILL come across a plenty of criticism!) try not to get into arguments with those people. Take criticism as a lesson learned and grow from it as well as respond in a well thought out and professional manner. There is no need to be abrasive with fans, this can can devolve into a PR nightmare. Just take their words and respond accordingly or not at all. Negative criticism is a good thing in that it means there are enough people out there playing your game to where they want to give you ideas on how to make it better.
Look at the criticism that way and you can then form responses and help shape the future development of your game. Now there is a point where negativity becomes downright harassment. Sometimes you will need to ignore those people or even take steps to block those people from your forums or media outlets so as not to give them any more of a platform to be negative for the sake of just being negative. The sincere criticism leads to a more open discussion on how things can get better and responding to those critics can earn you more respect around the community.
Hire a PR rep
You are a developer, not a marketing genius. Hire someone to run all your social media accounts and give them updates on what’s going on with the games development cycle. These people are trained in speaking to an audience and will help you out with crafting your messages to your fans about your game. You don’t have the time to be constantly checking on Facebook or Twitter or making posts on Reddit and other forums because you should be focusing on building your game. You need someone with PR expertise who can dedicate their time to communicating with your fans on a regular basis.
Communicating with your fans can be hard and time consuming but with the right attitude and the right people around you, you get your messages out professionally and in a timely manner to let people know what is going on with your game. Do not be afraid to address your fans when there are bad times and be eager to let them know about the good times. All communication goes very far in getting your fans involved and gains respect around the community.
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