The Power of Player Advocates

The Power of Player Advocates

November 30, 2023
Topics
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Player advocates are like a secret weapon for game studios. They are highly engaged and passionate members of your gaming audience and can help with community management, game marketing, and more. Think of these loyal supporters as informal ambassadors for you and your game. They can provide news, generate content, promote your games and studio, spread positive word-of-mouth hype, and even moderate social media channels.

No matter what form a player advocate takes, they are essential to your studio's success. You can rely on them to help you through challenging times, during production, and after the game is released. Although it takes dedication on your part to build a community of loyal advocates, it can be essential for a studio's success. Read on to learn how to find player advocates and maintain a positive relationship with your community.

Build a safe community

Advocacy starts with a strong community at its base. If you've started thinking about advocates, you likely already have an established community in some form, like a Discord server, Subreddit, Steam Community Hub, or Facebook group.

To nurture and cultivate player advocates, your community should be a welcoming haven for players where they feel valued, respected, and encouraged to engage. Moderation is vital to this effort. But you don't have to handle it alone. The key is identifying and empowering your loyal followers to take on this role. 

[Rules for Deep Rock Galactic's Discord.]

Establish and enforce clear guidelines to minimize the presence of harmful players and trolls and foster a positive and inclusive environment. Keep the rules of your community space short and easy to understand to ensure everyone is on the same page. Be vigilant, and don't let toxic voices grow. Nip conflicts in the bud before they escalate into full-blown disputes. Otherwise, your supporters might think you don't care, leading to lowered morale and increased churn within your community.

That doesn't mean you should strike all heated discussions or delete comments. If you do so, these users will simply turn to another platform where they can continue their debates. Instead, guide members to keep them within the rules of your forum with firm yet gentle reminders. As long as users follow these guidelines, they should be welcome to chat about any topic they want.

Encourage engagement

Choose the best communication platform for your community based on your game type and audience. Consider factors like audience age or community interest. For example, social media might be suitable for mobile games, while an open forum might be better for longer games in development, where people can share guides or chat about features.

You set the tone and vibe, so be active in your community by encouraging discussions, sharing fan-created content, and communicating regularly. Create different channels for different topics like bug reporting, updates, videos, memes, or general chat. That will help keep your community organized and engaged so they can discuss what they like without going elsewhere. It will also help players connect and see your studio as people, not just a company.

Identifying advocates 

In their early stages, potential game advocates tend to be active members of your community. They're engaged in day-to-day discussions, volunteer to moderate them, or help newcomers find their way within the community. They tend to participate in contests or try to contribute to community events in various ways as well. Some fans will look for more opportunities to help with development by offering feedback on early builds or looking for more responsibility beyond community moderation. Simply polling your community for help can lead to a potential promoter.

But not all potential advocates are the most vocal. Some of your longest supporters also have potential, even if they appear more quiet. These players might have been your earliest supporters, tested your demo, or backed your game on Kickstarter. Check who the most active players are and what's happening on social media. Your game's advocates may not only be involved in your central community hub. Maybe they're posting fanart on X (formerly Twitter) or sharing all sorts of content from and about you. 

Interacting with your advocates

Once you've identified your pool of potential advocates, actively work with them and show that you value their support. Give your circle of passionate supporters access to updates before the rest of the community and keep them in the loop regarding upcoming news. If they have a blog, newsletter, or another form of media dedicated to your game, contribute to it by sharing some interesting information or facts about development. For live service games - where it's essential to keep the player base informed - advocates can help you share this information.

When you share certain sensitive information with advocates that you still want to keep secret from the general public, clarify what can and cannot be shared with the rest of the community. For example, a work in progress can be exciting for core fans but may confuse newer fans or casual players. Some information can harm PR and marketing if disclosed to the public too early.

Recognizing your advocates 

Publicly recognizing advocates who voluntarily support your studio is a great way to express gratitude for their valuable service. Make them stand out from other community members by giving them a unique status, similar to how moderators are identified on Discord or online forums. That will make them easily recognizable to new members and help them feel valued.

[GDevelop's advocacy program lists advocates’ roles next to their username for easy identification and extra visibility.]

Involve your advocates in the game development process. Ask for their feedback on character designs or minor storylines as a way to show your appreciation. Warframe developers asked fans to design a playable character, which resulted in positive community feedback and media coverage.

For those who contribute, go further with a heartfelt thank you. By naming specific advocates and writing sincere messages to the entire community, you can strengthen your relationships with advocates and attract new ones. EVE Online followed this example by creating a trailer featuring exclusively recorded gameplay footage from fans.

Rewarding your advocates

One way to thank advocates for their support is by providing digital or physical rewards. Digital rewards, like in-game items, cosmetics, virtual currency, or game codes, are free to create and can be easily delivered. Physical rewards, like game merchandise, can also show your supporters that you value their contributions.

Formalize the rewards for supporters and promote the program to incentivize fans to create content. This visibility of perks, like exclusive in-game titles or access to a dedicated Discord server, will attract more promoters to join your community. More and more studios have used both these reward types to show their fans their appreciation for continued support and advocacy. Forza's loyalty rewards, Jackbox Games’ advocacy program, and Rocket League's fan rewards program are all examples of what some studios have done to foster advocates. 

A convenient way to distribute rewards to your most loyal players and your community is through Xsolla Rewards. This new marketing tool lets you send all sorts of digital items through customized landing pages, from in-game cosmetics to virtual currencies, skins, NFTs, and more. Just send the assets to your Xsolla expert, and they'll take care of everything else. Xsolla manages all the onboarding and verification processes worldwide, so your supporters can receive their rewards no matter where they are.

Maintaining long-term advocacy

Your game's advocates are essential to your community. They help keep it active, deal with problems, grow loyalty among fans, and support your games through tough times. But to keep your community healthy and have a good relationship with your advocates, it's important to treat them well.

  • Be respectful to your advocates. Treat your advocates fairly, from meeting game deadlines to giving credit for player contributions. If you don't, you could damage your relationship with your players and the community you've built.
  • Set clear expectations. Some advocates may feel like they can speak for your company, but you must make it clear to them that they should not pretend to be actual members of your company. It's also important that they do not make your company look bad. If they're seen as representing you and your game but doing something wrong, it can hurt your entire brand, so keep an eye on them.
  • Be honest. It's alright to reward people for their support and enthusiasm, but offering merchandise in exchange for reviews, social media shares, or community member recruitment can make your studio look bad. Players will quickly notice if you are buying reviews or rewarding positive reviews with merchandise to make your game look better. Be clear that your gifts are for their help and that no strings are attached. Honesty will keep your community strong. In the past, some developers were caught creating fake advocates in their products. That can happen when developers are part of the community themselves, don't disclose sponsored streams, or otherwise create "fake" advocates/influencers. These scandals make studios look bad and can lead to a complete loss of support from your current and potential fans.
  • Use industry marketing tools. Building a strong community and connecting with the right people to advocate for your studio doesn't have to be a solo endeavor. Take advantage of existing marketing services and tools, like Xsolla Partner Network (XPN) and its Xsolla Rewards solution. This affiliate marketing engine connects game developers with targeted influencers and makes it easy to promote games with customizable landing pages, exclusive rewards, discount codes, game keys, and more. With XPN, you can quickly grow your community and increase engagement while rewarding your players. A team of Xsolla experts will handle all the work for you so you can focus on what matters most: your game and your community. 

Growing your community and finding the right people to advocate for your studio can be a long road and often can be expensive. Xsolla can be your trusted partner, ready to support you with a wide array of tools and services to help you on your journey to success. If your studio is ready for a helping hand, contact Xsolla's team of experts and book a meeting today. 

Player advocates are like a secret weapon for game studios. They are highly engaged and passionate members of your gaming audience and can help with community management, game marketing, and more. Think of these loyal supporters as informal ambassadors for you and your game. They can provide news, generate content, promote your games and studio, spread positive word-of-mouth hype, and even moderate social media channels.

No matter what form a player advocate takes, they are essential to your studio's success. You can rely on them to help you through challenging times, during production, and after the game is released. Although it takes dedication on your part to build a community of loyal advocates, it can be essential for a studio's success. Read on to learn how to find player advocates and maintain a positive relationship with your community.

Build a safe community

Advocacy starts with a strong community at its base. If you've started thinking about advocates, you likely already have an established community in some form, like a Discord server, Subreddit, Steam Community Hub, or Facebook group.

To nurture and cultivate player advocates, your community should be a welcoming haven for players where they feel valued, respected, and encouraged to engage. Moderation is vital to this effort. But you don't have to handle it alone. The key is identifying and empowering your loyal followers to take on this role. 

[Rules for Deep Rock Galactic's Discord.]

Establish and enforce clear guidelines to minimize the presence of harmful players and trolls and foster a positive and inclusive environment. Keep the rules of your community space short and easy to understand to ensure everyone is on the same page. Be vigilant, and don't let toxic voices grow. Nip conflicts in the bud before they escalate into full-blown disputes. Otherwise, your supporters might think you don't care, leading to lowered morale and increased churn within your community.

That doesn't mean you should strike all heated discussions or delete comments. If you do so, these users will simply turn to another platform where they can continue their debates. Instead, guide members to keep them within the rules of your forum with firm yet gentle reminders. As long as users follow these guidelines, they should be welcome to chat about any topic they want.

Encourage engagement

Choose the best communication platform for your community based on your game type and audience. Consider factors like audience age or community interest. For example, social media might be suitable for mobile games, while an open forum might be better for longer games in development, where people can share guides or chat about features.

You set the tone and vibe, so be active in your community by encouraging discussions, sharing fan-created content, and communicating regularly. Create different channels for different topics like bug reporting, updates, videos, memes, or general chat. That will help keep your community organized and engaged so they can discuss what they like without going elsewhere. It will also help players connect and see your studio as people, not just a company.

Identifying advocates 

In their early stages, potential game advocates tend to be active members of your community. They're engaged in day-to-day discussions, volunteer to moderate them, or help newcomers find their way within the community. They tend to participate in contests or try to contribute to community events in various ways as well. Some fans will look for more opportunities to help with development by offering feedback on early builds or looking for more responsibility beyond community moderation. Simply polling your community for help can lead to a potential promoter.

But not all potential advocates are the most vocal. Some of your longest supporters also have potential, even if they appear more quiet. These players might have been your earliest supporters, tested your demo, or backed your game on Kickstarter. Check who the most active players are and what's happening on social media. Your game's advocates may not only be involved in your central community hub. Maybe they're posting fanart on X (formerly Twitter) or sharing all sorts of content from and about you. 

Interacting with your advocates

Once you've identified your pool of potential advocates, actively work with them and show that you value their support. Give your circle of passionate supporters access to updates before the rest of the community and keep them in the loop regarding upcoming news. If they have a blog, newsletter, or another form of media dedicated to your game, contribute to it by sharing some interesting information or facts about development. For live service games - where it's essential to keep the player base informed - advocates can help you share this information.

When you share certain sensitive information with advocates that you still want to keep secret from the general public, clarify what can and cannot be shared with the rest of the community. For example, a work in progress can be exciting for core fans but may confuse newer fans or casual players. Some information can harm PR and marketing if disclosed to the public too early.

Recognizing your advocates 

Publicly recognizing advocates who voluntarily support your studio is a great way to express gratitude for their valuable service. Make them stand out from other community members by giving them a unique status, similar to how moderators are identified on Discord or online forums. That will make them easily recognizable to new members and help them feel valued.

[GDevelop's advocacy program lists advocates’ roles next to their username for easy identification and extra visibility.]

Involve your advocates in the game development process. Ask for their feedback on character designs or minor storylines as a way to show your appreciation. Warframe developers asked fans to design a playable character, which resulted in positive community feedback and media coverage.

For those who contribute, go further with a heartfelt thank you. By naming specific advocates and writing sincere messages to the entire community, you can strengthen your relationships with advocates and attract new ones. EVE Online followed this example by creating a trailer featuring exclusively recorded gameplay footage from fans.

Rewarding your advocates

One way to thank advocates for their support is by providing digital or physical rewards. Digital rewards, like in-game items, cosmetics, virtual currency, or game codes, are free to create and can be easily delivered. Physical rewards, like game merchandise, can also show your supporters that you value their contributions.

Formalize the rewards for supporters and promote the program to incentivize fans to create content. This visibility of perks, like exclusive in-game titles or access to a dedicated Discord server, will attract more promoters to join your community. More and more studios have used both these reward types to show their fans their appreciation for continued support and advocacy. Forza's loyalty rewards, Jackbox Games’ advocacy program, and Rocket League's fan rewards program are all examples of what some studios have done to foster advocates. 

A convenient way to distribute rewards to your most loyal players and your community is through Xsolla Rewards. This new marketing tool lets you send all sorts of digital items through customized landing pages, from in-game cosmetics to virtual currencies, skins, NFTs, and more. Just send the assets to your Xsolla expert, and they'll take care of everything else. Xsolla manages all the onboarding and verification processes worldwide, so your supporters can receive their rewards no matter where they are.

Maintaining long-term advocacy

Your game's advocates are essential to your community. They help keep it active, deal with problems, grow loyalty among fans, and support your games through tough times. But to keep your community healthy and have a good relationship with your advocates, it's important to treat them well.

  • Be respectful to your advocates. Treat your advocates fairly, from meeting game deadlines to giving credit for player contributions. If you don't, you could damage your relationship with your players and the community you've built.
  • Set clear expectations. Some advocates may feel like they can speak for your company, but you must make it clear to them that they should not pretend to be actual members of your company. It's also important that they do not make your company look bad. If they're seen as representing you and your game but doing something wrong, it can hurt your entire brand, so keep an eye on them.
  • Be honest. It's alright to reward people for their support and enthusiasm, but offering merchandise in exchange for reviews, social media shares, or community member recruitment can make your studio look bad. Players will quickly notice if you are buying reviews or rewarding positive reviews with merchandise to make your game look better. Be clear that your gifts are for their help and that no strings are attached. Honesty will keep your community strong. In the past, some developers were caught creating fake advocates in their products. That can happen when developers are part of the community themselves, don't disclose sponsored streams, or otherwise create "fake" advocates/influencers. These scandals make studios look bad and can lead to a complete loss of support from your current and potential fans.
  • Use industry marketing tools. Building a strong community and connecting with the right people to advocate for your studio doesn't have to be a solo endeavor. Take advantage of existing marketing services and tools, like Xsolla Partner Network (XPN) and its Xsolla Rewards solution. This affiliate marketing engine connects game developers with targeted influencers and makes it easy to promote games with customizable landing pages, exclusive rewards, discount codes, game keys, and more. With XPN, you can quickly grow your community and increase engagement while rewarding your players. A team of Xsolla experts will handle all the work for you so you can focus on what matters most: your game and your community. 

Growing your community and finding the right people to advocate for your studio can be a long road and often can be expensive. Xsolla can be your trusted partner, ready to support you with a wide array of tools and services to help you on your journey to success. If your studio is ready for a helping hand, contact Xsolla's team of experts and book a meeting today. 

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