The world of online gaming keeps changing. With new games coming out every month on PCs, game consoles, and phones, there’s a lot of competition for players’ time. A game’s success doesn’t just depend on good graphics and gameplay anymore. It also depends on how strong the relationships are between developers and players.
Let’s look at how online game developers can improve their player relations to build awesome in-game communities.
Why Player Relations Matter in Online Gaming
In the past, people saw online games as solo activities focused on one player’s experience. But things are different today. In an April 2023 survey, 82% of online gamers in the United States said that video games had introduced them to new friendships and relationships (Source: Statista).
Games are now social spaces where players team up, compete, and connect.
With so many gamers making bonds through games, it’s clear that today’s players want more than just fun gameplay. They want to share experiences, feel camaraderie, and belong to a community. This makes us ask: who exactly is the modern online gamer?
Understanding Today’s Gamers: Beyond the Screen
The people who play games online today are more diverse than ever. A 2020 study found over 214 million online gamers in the United States, spanning different ages, genders, and backgrounds (Source: FinancesOnline).
These players have different motivations for the games they play. While some are drawn to leaderboards and tournaments, others log in to relax, hang out with friends, or even find romance.
In fact, 50% of people surveyed in 2022 said they had met a good friend, partner, or significant other through online gaming (Source: Statista). With such meaningful relationships developing through games, community, and social connections have become a key part of the online gaming experience.
To nurture these social connections, developers should provide robust community features and moderation tools. The best call center integration with Zendesk can help brands manage high volumes of player inquiries and requests efficiently.
Effective Ways for Players to Give Feedback
Since half of online gamers have made important bonds through gaming, good communication channels are clearly very important. These connections are often built and strengthened through interactions inside games and on outside platforms.
Using social media is great for getting real-time feedback from players. Many developers are active on sites like Twitter, Discord, and Reddit to engage with their community. In-game surveys are also helpful for polling players directly on what they like, dislike, and want to see improved.
Additionally, a 2021 survey found that the social parts of gaming mattered a lot to many online gamers, with 84% saying they were very important (Source: Statista). Hosting in-game events, tournaments, and Q&A sessions with developers can help bring a game’s community together.
Addressing Player Concerns: Bugs, Gameplay, and More
With the social side of games in mind, developers need to respond to player feedback on both technical stuff and overall experience. Fixing bugs quickly shows the team is listening, while balancing gameplay based on data and suggestions keeps things fun and fair.
Beta testing also allows polishing before launch. In 2022, 31% of U.S. online gamers said they started new games because friends were playing them (Source: Statista), showing social influences on adoption. With beta testing, developers can fix confusing interfaces, remove unfair advantages, and balance progression pacing based on early feedback.
The Player Perspective: Insights from the Community
While this article focused on actions developers can take, it’s also important to highlight the player side of the equation. The gaming community offers a passionate audience that cares deeply about their favorite games and studios.
Gamers devote endless hours mastering games, discussing strategies, and bonding over shared experiences. Their advocacy and word-of-mouth promotion is invaluable. Players also provide a vital sounding board on whether new features hit the mark.
At gaming conferences and meetups, fans get thrilled seeing developers, artists, and community reps from the studios they love. While frustrated players will speak up about problems, loyal fans will cheer on developers through tough stretches.
The enthusiasm and creativity in the player community inspire developers daily. Many industry veterans first got hooked on gaming themselves as kids. They understand that players just want to enjoy great games, connect with others, and feel part of an engaging journey.
Developers have a chance to shape amazing worlds, tell compelling stories, and build community through their games. Collaborating with players in this journey is how online gaming will continue pioneering new frontiers in entertainment.
Building Trust Through Openness
Being real with your players is key to having good relationships with them. Sharing your development roadmaps gives players a sneak peek at what’s coming up. Owning up to setbacks shows you’re not ignoring the big issues that come up. Celebrating milestones with your players creates a feeling that you’re in this together and making progress.
Most importantly, controversies should be handled honestly and sensitively. In 2021, the online game RuneScape had some backlash when a pride event was used for hate speech. The devs responded by condemning that behavior, banning offenders, and restating their commitment to an inclusive community for all. This helped rebuild some trust that had been lost (Source: Kotaku).
The Role of Community Managers
Dedicated community managers are like bridges between devs and players. By moderating forums, engaging on social media, and gathering feedback, they stay plugged into what players are thinking and worried about. Community managers then pass these insights to the devs so updates can meet the community’s needs.
Devs need to equip community managers with training and tools for building empathy, communicating clearly, and upholding fair guidelines. Managers should also get insider knowledge on team processes, upcoming changes, and lessons learned to be able to address player questions.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can devs avoid alienating some players when making changes based on feedback?
Get a variety of perspectives through surveys and focus groups before big updates. Explain your intent and be transparent about decisions being made. When doing this, make controversial features optional if you can.
What are some best practices for handling negative feedback or backlash from players?
Have community managers engage critics calmly. Don’t get defensive and acknowledge the concerns raised. If hostility continues, enforce moderation policies evenly. Guide discussions back to constructive grounds or disengage from unproductive arguments.
How can indie devs with limited resources manage player relations?
Be involved in niche communities and engage organically. Set expectations on your development limits. Get targeted feedback from engaged players rather than mass feedback. Being real about trade-offs can build goodwill.
Connecting with players will keep evolving as online gaming grows. While tech will keep advancing, human interactions are timeless. Devs who invest in trust, transparency, and community can give their games staying power, longevity, and loyal players who level up with them along the way.
The aim is to provide helpful and empathetic insights for devs to improve player relations, both within current industry practices and by learning from past experiences across online gaming.
Establishing open communication, nurturing shared values, and building inclusive spaces for play can help unlock gaming’s potential as a social force bringing people together across digital worlds.