8 Things Indie Game Developers Can Do to Avoid Player Churn
04/05/2021 Written by The Game Marketer
For a lot of developers getting their game off the ground with their initial launch can feel like a great success, to finally see people engaging with and enjoying the game you've spent months or years developing is a great feeling. But what happens next? How can you make sure that those players continue to be engaged with your game? This article will take a look at the issue of player churn within indie games and give you 10 useful tips to minimise churn and maximise retention within your indie game.
1. Company Branding
Looking at your company branding is a good place to start in order to try and get your players engaged with the game. This goes for company websites, social media, emails and even the in-game branding. Ensuring that your company's logo is recognisable amongst all channels will help to keep players engaged with the brand as they recognise what it stands for (which should be the game). 81% of consumers say that they need to trust a brand to buy from them, and solid and consistent company branding is a great place to start building trust with potential players.
2. Social Media
Just like with company branding, keeping your player base engaged on social media will go a long way to eradicating churn within your game. Using platforms like Twitter and Facebook to interact with players has proved to be a great way to keep players engaged. Players want to feel like they are being heard by the developer, and this can be done in a number of ways. One way some developers have found success is through more personal posts on social media, answering questions that players might pose about their game or company philosophy. Another idea would be to post engaging content like videos or GIFs that will capture the attention of your audience.
3. More Personal Platform Engagement
As well as your traditional platforms like Twitter and Facebook, platforms like Discord and Reddit can be a great way to engage with your audience. Using these platforms allows players to ask their burning questions about the game and interact in more of an intimate setting, which is something that they might not want to do on social media where you have more than just one-sided conversations going on at once. As well as this, having company YouTube accounts and Twitch accounts have proved to be another great way of getting engaging content to fans of games, and provide another opportunity for developers to interact with their games' player base.
4. In-game Messaging
In-game messaging is another crucial part to maximising retention within the game. It's important to communicate with players and keep them updated on what's going on in the world of your game, including events that are planned ahead of time as well as updates for upcoming content. This kind of communication will not only make sure that they know about these things but also gives you an easy way to convey other messages to your player base, such an information on upcoming releases and events from your company.
5. Regular Updates to the Game
This one might sound obvious, but it can be crucial to keeping your player base happy. Regular updates, bug fixes, new content and additions to the game are another great way of creating excitement within your game. Listening to your player base is vital, if there are bugs that your players are experiencing being communicative and proactive in dealing with these issues are a sure-fire way to keep your players happy. Keeping your game fresh with new and exciting content is a great way to keep players coming back and capturing their interest for longer.
6. Meaningful Dialogue
As we've touched on, players want to feel like they are a part of the game. One way for you as, a developer, to do this is through creating meaningful dialogues and interactions with your player base. Often these players will know more about how certain aspects of your game work than you ever did yourself so don't be afraid that their feedback might clash with what you envisioned for the product. Asking them questions on how they would improve upon sections in the game can only benefit both parties; new ideas may arise from such conversations which could make everyone happier in the end!
The challenge here is simply being open minded and not shying away from criticism because it was generated by your own player base. Creating meaningful dialogue between developer and player base leads to solutions, if a player has a qualm about a game but no way to contact the developer, they might post negative comments and reviews to social media, whereas if you create a clear means by which players can contact you, you will minimise this.
7. Creating Good Relationships With Influencers
As we have outlined in previous articles, influencer marketing is fast becoming one of the key avenues of marketing for indie game developers. Creating and maintaining good relationships with influencers can be a great way for indie game developers to get their games in front of new audiences and increase brand awareness. Keeping these influencers and content creators happy will be greatly beneficial for minimising churn in your game. The more that they interact with your game the more that their fans will take interest. Checking in and making sure that the influencers are happy with the game is an easy way to keep strong relationships and keep them playing your game.
In a lot of cases, indie game player bases have proved to be some of the most passionate player bases in the gaming industry, with plenty of indie games garnering cult followings. Looking at other avenues such as merchandise will allow you to give your fans a physical representation of their love for the game and keep them engrossed in the game. This of course another stream of income for developers, but importantly to us, a good way of keeping fans interested. Listening to your fans' ideas about merch, what they might be looking for and what it might look like, can be very beneficial and a good way of driving engagement by way of including them, in some capacity, in the design process of your merchandise.
In summary, there are many ways to reduce player churn, such as in-game messaging, strong social media presence and direct conversations with your fan base. A lot of what we have spoken about has come down to a few key recurring factors; being present and active online, listening to your fan base and keeping your game fresh. These are the main things that indie game developers should be focussing on after their game has been released to ensure that they can gain, grow and maintain a passionate player base and minimise churn.
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