• Natalie Markovits

How does player feedback increase game engagement & reduce player churn?

Updated: Sep 6

We had the pleasure of hosting Carlos Moreno Bruzón, Head of the Community Team at King games.

After over 8 years of managing and building communities within the gaming industry, Carlos has managed to obtain a great knowledge of the multiple ways there are for communities to be brought together, the differences between genres and platforms, and also what value community and player feedback can bring to some of the best studios in the gaming industry.


With billions of gamers around the world, gaming is a fast-growing, high-revenue industry. But, there is a critical piece of the market that many developers and marketers aren’t paying enough attention to — the engaged players who make the industry so successful.

A summary of what you'll listen to on this podcast episode:


1. How building engaging communities enable core and loyal players to have a space, to increase even more engagement, and how gaming companies can channel that engagement into new revenue and reduce player churn.


2. Carlos shares with us his thoughts on the influence player feedback has on games and community engagement and how it can help reduce churn.


3. A discussion on how to maintain a player community active and what are the main tactics Carlos utilizes at King games.


4. We also asked Carlos how King games cuts through all the noise with millions of feedback data points and tries finding the most relevant and trending feedback to optimize their games.


5. Lastly, a conversation on the differences in gaming communities between the hyper-casual games and mid-core and hardcore games.


Discover what Carlos had to say.


Audio file




Transcription


Host:


So, Carlos, as our first question, we would love to hear how does player feedback influence your day-to-day as the head of the community team at King?


Carlos Moreno, Head of community team at King:


Yeah, it's a cool question. I guess player feedback is kind of integral to everything we do within the team. Right. At the end of the day, I would say there's a division between two main sources of impact in the work we do. One is the support we give our players, which helps them get back to the game, play more, enjoy it, and whatnot, and the other one is the feedback they give us, which we then take on to the studio. So in terms of our day-to-day, I would say it's quite an integral part of what we do. We not only want to make sure that the communities are there and to help each other, but we want to make sure the communities are there to help our products as well.


Host:


Right. That's actually super interesting because at the end of the day, you utilize really all the community feedback to grow the product. So that's actually very important for the community team, but for the rest of the company.


So how important an intertwine, in your opinion, is the level of community engagement and the level of player churn, and what are the best tactics to reduce player churn?


Carlos Moreno, Head of community team at King:


Yeah, I guess that's one of the million-dollar questions, as they say. So how can the community impact retention? And I said submitted our question because it's very difficult to track the performance of our players and community versus the retention in the game. Right. Because not every player is going to be chosen to be a part of the community, so to say. I think they're definitely intertwined. One of the things we do and one of the things I've done throughout my career is to try and map out the behavior of those players that are in the community.


In my experience, it's very important to emphasize that that doesn't mean that if you bring a player into the community, you will get that behavior. But rather than that, those that are there happen to behave in this way. And the way that I mean is highly engaged.


When we look at the players we have in the sense of looking at them from a player data standpoint, we can always correlate that the players in the community are very engaged with the games as well. They tend to be spenders, they tend to be high level. They tend to be really engaged with the product, whatever the game is, whether it is at King or at different companies that I've worked for before. Those are the players that are the most invested in your game. And the data that I've analyzed in the different games that I've worked for always showcases that.


I think community and churn or community and retention are very intertwined because you're talking to the most engaged players. Right. So if you listen to those and you listen to what they have to say, you're definitely having an impact on the long-term roadmap of your game because it's going to last much longer and it's going to be a better product for them.


There's a caveat to that. Maybe we can get to that later. But it's also interesting to understand that the community is not always right. So although I'm a community professional, I'm not an advocate of saying that the community holds the truth of what's best for the product. It's just important to listen to what they have to say.


Host:


No, that's actually very interesting, and I would love to hear about it later because we have been hearing a lot and we completely understand that the community has a lot of power, but then it is up to the company to understand what feedback needs to be taken and what feedback needs to be set on the site, at least at the moment, to build the best product. Because at the end of the day, people can want a lot of things, but it doesn't necessarily mean that it's the best.


Carlos Moreno, Head of community team at King:


Exactly. And sometimes we as humans don't really know what we want. Right. Even though we might voice it very well, we might not actually want it once we get it.


Host:


Yeah, I would love to hear about that later, but I'll continue with my question. How do you maintain a player community actively? What are the main tactics you utilize?


Carlos Moreno, Head of community team at King:


Yeah, retention within the community, I think it varies a lot within like, it depends a lot on the genre and on the game. So, for example, and I say games because those are obviously my products. If the game has a lot of content, sometimes you can choose to use your engagement tools around that content. So say the game releases a new hero every week or every two weeks. You can make a lot of content around those and kind of combine them and link them to marketing beats so that whatever we're posting on marketing or on other networks is kind of connected to what we're using in our platforms that we use to speak with our players.


So game content would be one definitely that is interesting. But sometimes you might have games that don't have that much content, or it might be some period of time, I don't know, say the summer where maybe there's not a lot of content coming out for the players because all the Studios happen to be having a lot of people on holidays as normal and healthy.


So in those cases, the internal gamification of the community comes in handy. There are many platforms that do that very well. I'm talking about giving players within the community a space for them to find benefits in coming back and commenting on each other more. So, for example, if you help someone, you might get a badge, and that badge will show on your profile. If you speak this much, you might get a different kind of badge. So gamification is definitely one that I would also add along with the content of the game on its own.


And then the last one for me, if I had to choose three, would be the sense of belonging, making friends. It's as simple as that, right? If you know that there are friends there that are waiting for you to come back to reply on a specific debate that you were having, whether it was around the game, or around something else, you're more inclined to go back and check that out and kind of comment as well. So, yeah, I think those three would be definitely top of the list for me.


Host:


Yeah. And I like it because, at the end of the day, it also increases player collaboration, which also creates more engagement. So those strategies seem super relevant. And also we realized that there must be a lot of noise and millions of conversations in your community at King. How do you handle all of these data? How do you manage to find the most important feedback, especially from your core players, which at the end of the day, can be connected to the caveat we're discussing? Because sometimes you want to listen to your core players rather than just casual players.


Carlos Moreno, Head of community team at King:


Yeah. I mean, it's a tough one. We do have a lot of conversations. Like, it's crazy, right? Our games are so big that obviously, the conversations around our games are equally massive. I think when it comes to conveying the message, I think one of the best resources we have is actually Affogata. Affogata allows us to filter that out, compile different channels as well, which is also important because you might get great feedback in a channel that might I don't know, for example, someone might have a really interesting thing to say but might post it on an app review, which you wouldn't expect, but it might also be there.


So I think through a tool like I Affogata we're able to compile all those different messages and then at the same time use the different filtering tools to make sure the messages and the quality of the messages connects well with what we are trying to bring back to the Studios in this case. Now say you're interested in a specific feature. We filter the feature out. We want every channel, but we don't want every channel talking about everything. We want every channel talking about that feature. And then there's got to be some manual process as well, looking at it and trying to understand, okay, what are they saying? Which parts of what they're saying would be more interesting? And that's where the caveat comes. Right. How much of that like, for example, some people might say, oh, this is a great thing. I wish it was free, but it's not going to be free. Right. Because it's important in order to keep the healthy game going on. So is that feedback that is really interesting? Is that feedback that is really of use? Maybe not. So you need to have that expertise and that ability to obviously roll out what is actually important for the product and what is it.


Host:


Right. Makes complete sense. Just out of curiosity, what is the biggest channel for King? What is that channel with the strongest community?


Carlos Moreno, Head of community team at King:


In terms of quality content right now? It's currently the forums, for sure. It's also one that we have put a lot of emphasis on and that we keep on heavily working on and developing. But the forums have proved and I think it's fascinating, the forums have proved that in the casual universe, there are a lot of hardcore players. So casual might be a genre, but the players within might not be as casual as the genre itself.


Host:


Well, that's very interesting because it seems like in the industry, it's very distinguished, either casual or hardcore games. So some players in the middle listen that you play casual, but they are also hardcore. It's super interesting to hear that. And how important do you think is for gaming companies to listen to the voice of their players from the communities and take that to make relevant changes? And moreover, how much do you think companies are really doing it?


Carlos Moreno, Head of community team at King:


Okay, so how important and how much? How important? And this is kind of where I think the big thing that I was mentioning before the community is not always right. I think if I was to be a producer, I would want to know when I'm making decisions about the development of the game and what's coming to the game, and what players will be or won't be interested in. And I want to get as much of a picture of it as I can. And that's why I think the community is an essential ingredient. But I'm not one to be advocating for a community as a source of truth. It's not the source of truth. So you want to get the data.


You definitely want to get the data on the behavior of the players that you're having in your game. How do they operate? And you want to combine that with the feedback from players. Some of them might be coming from the community, but another source of feedback is the one that, for example, user research might provide where you can bring players in and spend half an hour with them and get a much more in-depth quality of feedback. None of those sources of feedback or data are wrong. They just all together provide a much better picture, which will help you make the right decisions.


So that's in regards to how and then in regards to how often, I think there's been a great increase in the relevance of community feedback or player feedback in the last maybe decade, I would say definitely. But the last five years have also proven that the player feedback definitely improves the retention in the game, the quality of the game is so even because players are a different channel, for example, to report a bug, like maybe there's a big issue in your game and it passed QA you didn't realize and the players are telling you, hey, this is broken.


So a lot of companies within the gaming industry have been picking up on it in the last, I would say five, or six years. And I think the results are evident. I think the games that are the most successful always tend to have an eye out for the community and what the community is saying.


Host:

Yeah, I agree with you with the last decade or in the last five years, there is this new trend that is the customer obsession, in your case, the player obsession. So it does make sense that now companies are realizing that they need to put the customer or the player in the center of the organization, which is very interesting because we realized that they are the most important stakeholders in the company at the end of the day. So it's really interesting. And Carlos, for the last question of today, I would love to hear what are the differences in gaming communities, in your opinion, between the hyper-casual games and mid-core and hardcore games that we were just discussing, actually. So it's a great opinion.


Carlos Moreno, Head of community team at King:


I've worked for hardcore, mid-core, and casual. I don't have the experience myself with hyper-casual, so I will not testify what's right or wrong on that side of things. But I can say that, and this was such as I don't know, such a surprise as I was working that there are more similarities than there are differences between those different genres because those are the most as I was saying, those are the most passionate people evolving around a specific game. So what might be casual for someone might be something they spend 8 hours on for another person and vice versa. What might be a super hardcore game, very complex and whatnot, might be something that someone is very interested in but it's not interested in talking about, and the other way around. Someone that might be playing Candy Crush is obsessed with Candy Crush and wants to talk about Candy Crush and how to improve Candy Crush.


So the main difference in my opinion would be the vocabulary. The hardcore communities’ vocabulary and I would say how much like accountability and vocabulary. So one, vocabulary, because they are much more tech-savvy people that play hardcore games tend to have higher quality equipment and therefore no more. So for example, using words like hot fix, a bug, or whatever word we use in the industry, you can use that with the hardcore community and they will pick up on it straight away. Whereas with caual you might have some difficulties. And then accountability in the sense that you are much more looked at and scrutinized when you work for a hardcore community. And if you say the wrong thing or if you promise the wrong thing, they will hold you accountable much more than the casual.


Host:


Yeah, it makes total sense. And I know that I said the last question, but I wanted to add something else apart from it as it’s a bit connected to it. But do you think that or do you feel that there are whales’ comments much more in communities from customers or players that do not spend on the game?


Carlos Moreno, Head of community team at King:


Yes, in my experience, I have clear evidence that that tends to be the case. Yes. At the end of the day, they Want Something back. They are giving something back.


Host:


Carlos, I want to thank you so much for taking the time to participate in today's podcast. It was super interesting to learn more about your take on the importance of player feedback and how to utilize it to optimize games and create a more engaging community. Thanks all for listening and don't forget to visit us at www.Affogata.com

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