Tips for Developers: Using Social Media (Featuring Paradox Interactive)

Welcome to Tips for Developers, a new semi-regular feature here on GamerSyndrome. This feature gives developers tips and advice from other experts in the industry. And, if you’re not in the game industry, will give you an idea of how different companies work.

As a developer (or publisher,) one of the most important things that needs to be done is get your game out into the market. There is a vast number of games published each year, and getting yourself out there will give you a step up over your competitors.

Be Proactive, Not Reactive

It is important to remember that, both in press and community interaction, you need to be proactive, and not reactive. If you are reactive, it counts on someone knowing who you are, what your future products are, and what all of your current plans are. It is unrealistic to think that any of your community members have this knowledge, and there is only a slim chance that any press contact has that knowledge. And, even if someone has that knowledge, it almost always lowers the amount of sales to be had. An example of this can be seen with the sales of Grand Theft Auto: China Town. Rockstar did not take a proactive role with the press and community interaction, and it cost them.

One of the most important things to be proactive in is your community interaction. The way you communicate with your community can either make or break your game. This aspect is especially important in the massive multi-player online (MMO) game category. If your players feel that they are under appreciate, or that you don’t give a damn about what they think, they can, and will, find a new company to buy from. If you’re tight lipped about your near-release game, by far that won’t make your customers leave you. But, if you have, say, a game breaking bug that you refuse to correct, or at least address, that will cause your customers to, at the least, have second thoughts about purchasing another of your games.

There are many free and simple methods to keep in contact with your community to let them know that you care what they think about. Tom S√∂derlund, Executive Producer of Majesty 2, shared some tips of using social media to keep your community informed and to raise their excitement about upcoming games. “Use the different social media available: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc. Since games are so much a visual experience, having videos on YouTube has a big impact. Also: involve the fan community, ask them questions and have a process for incorporating their feedback.”

Paradox Interactive is unique in the ways that they take advantage of social media. For each game that they publish, they create a Facebook and Twitter channel for it. Using both of their medias, they can effectively inform their community members of upcoming updates, any issues, any new reviews or previews about the game, and any contests that they are holding.  Additionally, one some of the Twitter accounts they create for their games, they act as if they are characters from the world the game is set in. This in an enjoyable way to get community members more involved in your games.

Tom also stated that “Paradox Interactive’s tagline is “Strategy is Our Game”, and we address a very dedicated audience of strategy- and role-playing gamers. I think the ‘listen to your gamers’ recommendation, is especially important for us.” As he stated, listening to your community is highly recommended for developers and publishers to do. It is important to remember to not only use your social media to get yourself out there, but to show your community that you are listening to them. If all you do is advertise yourself on your various social media platforms, your community won’t wish to visit them.

Be Different

When asked if Tom had any other advice for developers he said, “Dare to be different! Too many games look and play the same.” Making your game different than what is out in the market sets yourself apart from competitors. Gamers like playing things that are unique and give them a new experience; eventually, gamers tire of the same old. And, as we saw with ILikeCereal!!, using the same formula as an existing, popular game doesn’t work. If you’re looking to be different, and don’t have any ideas on the top of your head, try asking your community what they wish for. Chances are, if your community wants it, a large portion of the market will want it and will be interested in it. It worked for Paradox Interactive and Majesty 2.

The dare to be different concept should not only apply in your games, but in your everyday interactions with your community. Find out what your team excels at and take advantage of it. If you can hold excellent in-game events, go for it. If your community loves Twitter contests, go for it. There is nothing that is too far out there to be tried (I give applauds to you EA, and your creative uses of press to stir up interest in Dante’s Inferno.)

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