Home Forums Business and Legal Online Communities – creating interest and loyalty for your

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    • #2831

      Hi all,

      From my day to day work and from a shedload of research I’ve done over the last year, it’s clear to me that the internet can be a key driver in generating grassroot interest in your game, and your company.

      If you can succeed in attracting the interest of gamers around the world, and buy them in to your story, in the best scenario, you’ll have a readymade and eager market.

      At onemorego, we launched a version of our penalty shootout game last summer (2002). Click here to have a go

      It was a very basic game, and in hindsight, very roughly executed. However, we aren’t in the business of large scale “Half-Life” style games, so I’m not too concerned about this. In addition, What was interesting is that in excess of 30,000 games were played in a month for several months, and we were linked to by fans from places as far away as China and Brazil. We were linked to from big soccer club websites too.

      This was achieved with no spend, but through effective application of some techniques we have learned through our experience of operating and running online communities. We have two streams of business now – creating online sports games, and operating online communities.

      I’m interested to hear your thoughts on this matter. Do you have websites that you use to evangelise your game and your company? How do you do it?

      I suspect that most will have a website, but almost noone is actively nurturing a community.

      Let me know, as I’m interested to understand what you are all doing in this regard.

      Naturally, we’d be delighted to manage it for you!!

    • #9558

      I’d say that nurturing a web community can be invaluable but only if it’s done with commitment and is properly maintained. When we were developing Black and White at Lionhead we put great efforts into generating awareness and enthusiasm through our online fanbase. It meant making additional hires and created a lot of headaches dealing with ‘difficult’ contributors but it was extremely useful and rewarding. We found it very helpful on a day to day level in development also. It can get very lonely working on a title for 3 or 4 years (or even 5) years and the online community was one thing that helped to keep us sane and motivated during the long dev’ winter period. In the end our own forums and our enthusiastic support of the community spawned a number of fansites and generated a lot of international customer and media awareness. At one time there were about 6 dedicated fansites in existance which is a lot of free additional coverage generated by goodwill and simply sparing people a bit of our time.
      Currently we’re in the middle of lots of projects and managing the community side of things is a task we unfortunately just don’t seem to have enough time for. Hopefully, when some things are closer to completion we’ll get back on top of it again.
      We are revamping the site though, check out http://www.lionhead.com

    • #9563

      Hi Paul,

      Thanks for your reply. It is good to know that people involved in great games like Black and White – (loved the gameplay) – engage in communities. I agree totally that one can’t engage in these kinds of communities half heartedly. It is almost a full time activity. It isn’t the kind of work one can do 9 – 5. You’ve got to access it constantly, from early morning til late at night – the internet is active 24-7, so your community must be too. Well, it has to be if your community has a global reach.

      About 4 or 5 years ago, there was lots of talk about the value of online communities as having the power to unlock commercial value. Then with the downturn, and with a lack of successful examples, marketeers lost faith/interest in the concept. Others quietly kept tapping away, trying out different techniques etc. Successful examples started to appear. For example, Procter and Gamble are really brilliant at combining online communities and commercial interests. Even though their activities are nakedly commercial and revolved around promotional campaigns for FMC Goods, their practices are excellent and are an example to us all.

      I think your example too is crucial. I like the fact that you feel it kept you guys going through the dark times!

      Really, if a community is managed correctly, it can be a massive sales tool for a games company, or for any other company. If managed correctly, a ready made group of product champions will exist globally by the time your product is ready to launch. The other cool thing is that your product life span can be extended, because community members will stay engaged with your game for longer, through game clans etc.

      Ultimately, a good community can help to get a game to break even and profit faster. On top of that, game producers get the satisfaction of seeing how well their game is enjoyed.

      You know, to operate an online community, it’s kind of like a company sponsoring a sport. Some sponsors agree a sponsorship fee, pay the money, and that’s it, they don’t get any value from the experience and feel dissatisfied. Other companies pay the sponsorship fee on the understanding that they’ll have to spend at least 1.5 times the sponsorship fee on promoting their sponsorship. These companies can measure the value of the sponsorship, and often realise the benefits through increased profits (If the brand and sport match!). This last point is crucial, if the brand values and the sports values don’t match, you can pretty much forget it.

      An online community is the same. It isn’t enough to pay for a website, you’ve also got to pay to operate it correctly. This may mean that your human resource costs will outweigh the investment in technology. If it’s done right, the benefits can be very rewarding.

      I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    • #9564

      Hi Paul,

      I was just visiting your new site. I like it a lot. It’s certainly changed since I bought Black and White a good while back. Congratulations.

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