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  • Natalie Markovits

Leveraging player feedback from the community to optimize games

Updated: Dec 28, 2022



What will you listen to in this episode?


1. Minute 09:46 - Kristian shares with us how he was a hardcore gamer himself and how moving into being the Senior Community Manager coming from the competitive gaming landscape can connect more with the players and truly understand the passion and. the pains.


2. Minute 11:45 - Kristian discusses how he and his team as a player-facing team, transfer quickly the player feedback they gather to the development team, especially when discovering bugs to efficiently target these problems.


3. Minute 13:11 - as a hardcore gamer himself, Kristian shares valuable insights on the importance of transparency while communicating with your players, even if there are mistakes, delays, or screw-ups.


4. Minute 15:48 - We asked Kristian how he and the team at Wargaming maintain an active community with their players and he shared with us his main tactics.


5. Minute 18:56 - Kristian tells us how they listen to their community and how they utilize Affogata to analyze player sentiment and dive deep into player feedback conversations.


6. Minute 22:33 - Kristian shares what's the process of implementing feedback in product changes, how it is added to the roadmap, and how he is excited about the fact that upcoming features have been created based on the player feedback they've gathered.


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Transcription


Natalie Markovits, Affogata's podcast 00:05

Today, we have the pleasure of hosting Kristian Kanne, Senior Community Manager at Wargaming. First, let's say hi to Kristian, how are you doing today?


Kristian Kanne, Senior Community Manager at Wargaming 01:12

Thank you for having me. I'm doing great. What about you?


Natalie Markovits, Affogata's podcast 01:16

I'm great. Thank you. We're super excited to have you here. So, before we dive into the player insights, we would love to hear about you, and we'd love to get to know you and the audience to get to know you better before we start. So, our first question for you is what's your favorite video game?


Kristian Kanne, Senior Community Manager at Wargaming 01:35

So, I'm a player who usually sticks to one type of game for a long time unless I find something new. So, I'm currently playing Lost Ark, which has been released in the western region in the beginning of the year. It's like Korean MMO that has been around for like two years. But when it comes to all-time favorite, it's probably To The Moon. It's a game from the Freeburg Game Studio and probably Dustin Elysium Tail just because this game doesn't was designed by a single person, like Game Design artworks, everything was created by a single independent designer, so I can highly recommend those two games.


Natalie Markovits, Affogata's podcast 02:22

That's amazing. I love indie games, actually, we've been connecting a lot with indie developers and designers and it's just amazing everything that they do and it's like, as you say, like, most of the times are a one-man show. So, that's awesome, and for our next question. So, if you have a time machine, would you travel to the past or the future, and to when?


Kristian Kanne, Senior Community Manager at Wargaming 02:50

I actually thought a while about this question. So, first I thought like, Okay, what would be interesting in the past, and what would be interesting in the future, and I was like, yeah, I wouldn't probably want to travel in the future. If I could, I would probably travel like 30 years into the past, bring a little bit of footage from today's climate events and hopefully, we'll be able to show to the people in charge and say, like, this is how you're gonna mess up in 30 years. So, please do the changes now. So, yeah, because everything that's happening now, it's only getting worse.


Natalie Markovits, Affogata's podcast 03:26

You're totally right and I actually love that because it's like, it's not like you want to see something special. Specifically, you want to really change the world.


Kristian Kanne, Senior Community Manager at Wargaming 03:35

Yeah. I mean, there are always these questions like, what would you do? Would you travel back and you know, get rid of a single person? I asked myself that question as well and then I was like, the thing is, all these events that happened because of one single person, it's more, you know, multiple people involved. So, that wouldn't really change anything severely. So, I was like, Yeah, but you know, climate is an important topic today


Natalie Markovits, Affogata's podcast 04:08

For everybody, I agree with you and lastly, can you tell us how you got into the industry and what you do today?


Kristian Kanne, Senior Community Manager at Wargaming 04:17

Oh, I try to break this a little bit down because it's a long story. So, I started in the industry in Wargaming, where I am now. But I was a player. So, I played World of Warships game was released. I started playing when it was released and started playing in the competitive scene tournaments, World Championships and this is how I ended up in a competitive clan and I was able to visit people in France friends that I met through playing, I visited Paris and in Paris was the old Wargaming office with the community management team from World of Warships so they got to know me and they kind of asked me like half a year later that they were looking for a community manager for World of Warships legends, which was an unreleased console title of the same game I played on PC and yeah, I applied and I got the job and that's how I moved to Prague. So, I started working out at Wargaming as a community manager, and then got a senior community manager role for World of Warships and then in December I moved over to World of Kings console where I am now.


Natalie Markovits, Affogata's podcast 05:35

That's awesome. It's really funny, I can truly understand what you mean, because I was a customer Affogata as well, in my previous company, and now I work at Affogata. So, pretty cool feeling to be the customer and then to be able to work at the company really, like make a change probably from the inside.


Kristian Kanne, Senior Community Manager at Wargaming 05:55

Yes, that is true. That is true.


Natalie Markovits, Affogata's podcast 05:58

So, thank you for telling us a bit more about you Kristian, and before we start with the more serious questions, we would like to tell you all a short story about player feedback.


Story 06:18

Sony's God of War is a popular video game series set in ancient Greece and is well known for being extremely violent. Sony seemingly had the right intentions in the lead-up to the 2007 release of Gods of War Two, as the launch party in Greece was given a proper mythical team in reference to the game settings. Unfortunately, the festivities went too far and landed Sony in some hot water. A decapitated goat was used as a centerpiece for the party and patrons were invited to reach inside the goat’s carcass, pull out its insights and eat that raw meat. Well, this gruesome display was no doubt in keeping with the tone of God of War 2. Animal rights activists and general purveyors of common decency were none too pleased. Sony rightfully apologized for the event and subsequent God of War launch parties have thankfully been decapitated goat-free. Thank you for joining me and see you next week on tales from the feedback crypt.


Natalie Markovits, Affogata's podcast 07:34

And with that story in mind, we can't wait to hear what Kristian has to say about all this. So, let's start. So, you already tell us about how you entered Wargaming? But can you just introduce me to your role in the company? And what do you do as a Senior Community Manager?


Kristian Kanne, Senior Community Manager at Wargaming 07:52

Yeah. So, me, as a senior community manager, I do everything from player support, collecting feedback, talking to the players on several different platforms, helping organize events, like currently, we are reestablishing the competitive scene and World of Kings console. So, I'm helping them with prices, exposure, portal articles and this is, yeah, it's a very broad palette of what I have to do, or what I'm doing. We are discussing a lot with the development team. You know, which is related to player feedback. So, you have your hand at everything a little bit like with live operation team.


Kristian Kanne, Senior Community Manager at Wargaming 08:53

But my job is to be involved in everything to know about the game, to know about the development cycle, to be able to prepare messages, if it's a bug that is new in the game, something that we are resolving, or what our plans in the future are. So, it's just to be up to date with everything that's going on that is coming and just to know how the players are feeling.


Natalie Markovits, Affogata's podcast 09:30

Definitely. Now, that you just told us that you were a player yourself. Do you feel more connected to the players, like you truly understand what they mean and their pains and how they differentiate you from the ones that are maybe we're not players before?


Kristian Kanne, Senior Community Manager at Wargaming 09:46

So, there were surely some moments when I had or when I was in discussions with players and they brought up like, 'you don't understand what we are feeling and you cannot relate to us' and then I was like 'I can', because I used to play in the competitive scene. I know exactly how you feel because I consider myself a part of the hardcore audience. I might not know as much as the current hardcore core players of World of Kings console, because I don't have that much experience, but I know exactly how passionate players can be and how important it is for them, to have the game succeed. So, I can relate to them and I feel as much pain sometimes when I see something is not working out correctly, or, you know, things could have gone differently, or when I see that some features that would have been implemented are delayed, because things in development are not always perfect and you know, things are not always coming as expected. So, yeah, I understand both sides, like that is to me, as a long-term player and as someone who knows the inside of the development, I can understand both sides and I'm doing my best to communicate this correctly, because I can relate to the player. But I also can explain to the players like why this is the case, why something is not working, or why not something is not coming when they expected it.


Natalie Markovits, Affogata's podcast 11:32

Makes total sense and this leads us to our next question, which is basically, if you can share with us and tell us a bit, how does this player feedback influence your day-to-day position?


Kristian Kanne, Senior Community Manager at Wargaming 11:45

A lot. So, our game is a game that has weekly updates, like every Tuesday, we either have content changes, or balance changes, or now for example, we have a Halloween-themed week until the end of October, beginning of November. So, this means we have a lot of feedback every week. So, new feedback, new content, new changes. So, based on this, like usually when content is being introduced, and we gather the feedback, we just try to forward opinions from players to the development team, how it might influence it in the future and especially if new content is being released, if there are new bugs, because that is something that we are working on really fast with our development team and the players.


Natalie Markovits, Affogata's podcast 12:39

Yeah, it's great that way of communication. It makes everything more efficient and more agile to like, get this feedback in real-time and make the changes quickly. And, so as your part in being part of the community in Wargaming, in your opinion, how important and intertwined is the level of the community engagement and the level of players and player churn?


Kristian Kanne, Senior Community Manager at Wargaming 13:11

You definitely need to be connected with your community and you need to know what they think and what is happening because if you don't act accordingly, and if you don't provide information, players will, at some point, turn their backs on you as a developer, because the players don't want to be disappointed. Like, even if something doesn't work out, transparent and honest, communication is the most important thing to the players. Even if you screw up badly, even if something doesn't work out. If you put yourself in on a stage and you just say, guys, we screwed up, we're sorry, we're working on to resolve this issue. They will be happy, and they will I mean, of course, they are probably disappointed, but they think that you're doing the best that you can. Now, you also need to pay attention to them and because if they see that you're not communicating with the players, and they are not up to date on what's coming, they might find interest in something else. So, I personally think that community engagement itself is very important to keep especially the core hardcore audience, with you as a developer.


Natalie Markovits, Affogata's podcast 14:30

But it must be hard to find like there is a big community. How can you know who are the hardcore gamers and how can you differentiate them?


Kristian Kanne, Senior Community Manager at Wargaming 14:41

So, we consider the hardcore, core audience, the players who actively communicate in several different varieties. So, you have, of course, the players who play a couple of hours during the week but that's it, like they don't interact on social media. If you look at the player base itself of games, you usually have like 3, 4 maximum 5% of the players interacting. So, the players that you see on Discord, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, those are the ones who really, really care about your game, because otherwise, they wouldn't put in the effort to talk about the game, and they want to be part of a community. So, that is how you usually can differentiate your player base.


Natalie Markovits, Affogata's podcast 15:33

Right! It makes sense and how do you maintain a player community active? What are the main tactics you utilize to make sure that the community keeps being active when they bring in players to talk about certain features or the game or whatever?


Kristian Kanne, Senior Community Manager at Wargaming 15:48

So, we have several different steps, I would say. First of all, we have our weekly streams, where we utilize them to connect to the players. We have one Tuesdays where I do like a content update stream for two hours where I play the game, answer questions on stream, talk to the players, play with other players and then we have a developer stream Fridays, where we go through things that happened this week, things that are going to happen the week after and then we have a Q&A section. The stream is about an hour long, so it's like half/half, usually half an hour for questions and where players can ask questions about content for the future, and so on and that's one thing. Then we have, of course, our news portal, where our content team is working nonstop to inform the players about changes, content, what's happening this week, what special missions there are and that's like our main communication that we use. But we are two people in the community management team. We are social media manager, my colleague, Kirsten, and myself as the community manager.


But we have a program, which is our Community Contributor Program, and we separate these people into two groups. We have the ones that create Twitch streams, Youtube videos, which are our contributors, and we have our ambassadors, which take care of, for example, our subreddit, which has 22,000 members, or of the biggest Facebook group, which have around 18,000 members and we are in direct line with these people. So, we are spending a lot of time on social media networks to find information or read issues, but we always go back to these people and ask them, hey, did we miss anything? So, we utilize key members of the community that just help us out and it's like a mutual relationship, because they get some special information from us. We get important information from the community and it's just like a symbiosis, I would say. we work together and this is very important, in my opinion, because it lets you connect to the communities very direct. If you miss something, or if you just want to spread a message so you just have to spread it to this person, and they can spread it even more. So, it's like a snowball system.


Natalie Markovits, Affogata's podcast 18:30

Yeah, it's a win-win both for the community and for the company. Definitely. So, with this in mind that you mentioned that you have such big communities, probably there must be a lot of noise in all of these conversations in the community. So, how do you handle all of this data? And how do you manage to find the most important feedback, especially when you say, from your core players?


Kristian Kanne, Senior Community Manager at Wargaming 18:56

Yeah, so one of the steps is just as I explained with the key members of the community that we reach out, and, you know, we ask them, 'hey, has anything happened? Is there a bug that we missed? Or is there a big issue that we need to address?' Or was there any hot topic discussion in your communities that we are missing? And then, of course, and I think you know, where this is going. We are utilizing Affogata, that we started working with around three months ago. So, this platform allows us to just measure community sentiment, and this goes through all of our social media. So, if we, for example, notice that we had an update, and we get a lot of negative sentiment because something is not working accordingly. We immediately are able to see it through Affogata, and then we can reach out in detail to the people and ask like, 'hey, we saw that there's something going wrong. Do you have any specifics?' And then we, of course, go through the platforms themselves. So, I, for example, take care of Reddit. I screen the subreddit every single day. We have our main discord where we have multiple people from Wargaming looking through the back report section or player support section, so we just utilize that.


Natalie Markovits, Affogata's podcast 20:28

It is awesome to hear that we are giving you value. So, that's great to hear.


Kristian Kanne, Senior Community Manager at Wargaming 20:33

Yeah, of course, the thing is, I am working as a community manager for a while now and I never had the ability, or I never had a tool where you can really measure sentiment. It was always disconnected, I would say. It was always like, either you count the comments manually of a negative thing, or you have like a big sub-Reddit thread that I don't know, has like 3000, upvotes and 700 comments, then you know, something is on fire. But this just allows you to have a broad picture of your entire social media channels.


Natalie Markovits, Affogata's podcast 21:12

Also, what you're mentioning is something that we see a lot, because there is a problem in the games industry, which is the fact that measuring sentiment is hard, because for instance, a player can say something like, 'yeah, I killed that person' and then obviously, you would say in a general context that this is negative, but in this context is positive. So, it is really hard to have accuracy in the sentiment.


Kristian Kanne, Senior Community Manager at Wargaming 21:39

Yeah, that's why we do the manual checks of course, like, if you want to go into details, you have to do you know the groundwork and go through the channels and check it for yourself. But to get like a big picture of what's going on, Affogata is great as a platform.


Natalie Markovits, Affogata's podcast 22:02

I'm happy to hear that. So, I can see you're super connected to the players, and you're constantly tracking and analyzing what they're saying about the game. So, now it would be super interesting to hear how do you transfer all of this information to the rest of the company? And how other teams implement these changes according to the feedback. So you get the example of you passing it to the developers in case you find a bug and things like this, but maybe you have another example of how this feedback is taken to optimize the game?


Kristian Kanne, Senior Community Manager at Wargaming 22:33

Sure. So, we have weekly reports, which are just basically the report of the previous week, where we collect feedback on every single content change or hot topic that we had the previous week. I also have a direct line to my publishing director to who I'm talking to on a weekly basis as well. If there are any really like pressuring points that need to be addressed, we have like big company meetings with the entire publishing team included, and that way, it allows us to weigh in on feedback, and let the live ops team look over it. If it's, for example, something that would make sense, we follow, we forward these emails to our development team, like every lead game designer is involved, some other people from the development team, and then they can consider if something can be done, if it makes sense, if we have the capability to do it in a certain because you have to keep in mind that there is a certain roadmap and development time is very scarce, like you don't have that much to expend for when it's planned. So, they have to wait and see like 'Okay, can we do it? Does it make sense? does it benefit the player. How difficult it is to implement, and then they consider it.' So JIRA tasks are created the development team design team talk about this, if it makes sense and then maybe in like four or five versions later it comes. So, we have a couple of features, for example, which I'm really excited about in the future, which has been requested by the players a lot, which we were able to implement through player feedback, because they were asking for it. So, I see that change is happening and that the players feedback is being heard. So, that's what is like the most important thing for me.


Natalie Markovits, Affogata's podcast 24:40

Definitely, that's awesome this may be the hardest question of all, and it's the last one. So, if there will be a dream insight you could get it from your players, what would it be?


Kristian Kanne, Senior Community Manager at Wargaming 24:52

So, as a gamer myself, as a long-term gamer myself, I usually can relate a lot to the players when they provide feedback or when they are passionate about something. But something that would be really, I think useful for the entire industry is like, what makes a player stop playing the game after the session? You know, what is the reason for it? Like, was there anything frustrating in the game? What made them quit? Was it something in real life? Is it they had enough of it? Or, you know, what kind of caused someone to stop a session? Because you usually don't know. Of course, there can be bad sessions where you play a game and you fail 10 times at the same task or, and then you say, like, well Alt+F4, or just close the game or just shut the console down. But then, or you have enough, or you don't have enough things to do in the game, or it's repetitive. So, I think that would be a great insight for the, for the gaming industry itself, if you could have this, because it would allow, yeah, it would allow the developer to maybe change something based on that.


Natalie Markovits, Affogata's podcast 26:15

I agree. I really like that because a few weeks ago, I had a podcast and asked that same question and she said that she would love to know what makes a player stay in their first session and now that you mentioned this, it is like, it's really interesting, because both are super relevant. But in this case, it would really help and will be about purpose and the company to understand exactly what's wrong or how they're feeling how to tackle this. So, I really liked that answer.


Kristian Kanne, Senior Community Manager at Wargaming 26:46

Yeah, I mean, technically, as a developer, you can find out at what point in the game someone left. Like, what kind of progress a player did before he canceled the session, or before he went out of the game. You don't understand what the player felt? Was it frustration? Was it joy? Was it rage? You know, wasn't because the player was exhausted. So, yeah, that would be a nice insight to have, in my opinion.


Natalie Markovits, Affogata's podcast 27:15

I agree and Kristian, I really want to thank you so much for taking the time to participate in today's podcast. It was so interesting to hear, first of all, your experience as a player and now as a senior community manager at Wargaming and the power of player feedback from the community.


Kristian Kanne, Senior Community Manager at Wargaming 27:34

Thank you for inviting me. It's always a pleasure to join if you if you have the time, or if you, you know want to talk about something again.


Natalie Markovits, Affogata's podcast 27:43

Amazing. Thank you so much.


Kristian Kanne, Senior Community Manager at Wargaming 27:46

Thank you.

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