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Esports Developers Need To Please Their Players To Stay in the Game

15
Nov

Esports Developers Need To Please Their Players To Stay in the Game

Friday, November 15, 2019

There are countless esports games on the market, but certain titles stand above the rest. The main thing that gives them this lasting quality besides simply being fun to play is the team behind it. These developers put care into making the game, and now they want it to last a long time in the world of esports. Perhaps the most important thing developers have to do for their title to stay successful is pay attention to their player base. A good relationship between developer and pro gamer is essential for an esports game to thrive, and failing to do so will cause the players to move onto the next title. So, how can developers forge a connection with their players? Read on to find out about:

  • How devs bridge the gap to their players
  • Giving games new life with new content for players
  • Lessons for devs to last in esports


A developer poses with a player at one sports event
Developers should mingle with their players, image courtesy Marketing Week


Being Part of a Professional Gaming Community

It is important for creators to listen and watch their player base, especially those who play their game professionally. This goes beyond just looking for bug fixes. They should be watching Esports teams play, shouting out rising stars, and generally having a large hand in creating a fun environment with their game that is always improving. A developer should be a part of the community, not an unreachable entity that never interacts after the game releases.

Keep the game fun to play, and people will keep playing it. One way devs are doing that is by releasing constant updates to improve the experience. Balancing gameplay, or trying to prevent an unfair advantage, is a common tweak. Activision-Blizzard’s game Overwatch is always being tweaked for balance in it’s weapons and characters. They wouldn’t want one player dominating a tournament because their character overly powerful.

By paying attention to the pro players and community discussion along with testing the game themselves, they can find areas that they may need to work on. There is plenty of online chat from casual and pro players alike about their gameplay experiences. Blizzard’s website itself has forums available to everyone that devs read and even sometimes participate in. Since Blizzard runs many of the biggest current esports games, it’s nice to see a dedicated place for feedback. It’s especially nice to see the feedback acted upon in updates.

Players feel like devs actually care about what they have to say, and want their game to improve. It’s a positive back and forth.

In recent years, it’s become more common for faces to become attached to names of game developers. More and more are taking to social media platforms to make themselves more known to the community. This is exactly the kind of thing they should be doing to connect with their players.

When devs can be seen as people just like the players, some of the rift between is removed. Getting into the public eye and being active is a good way to build on the relationship. They should be doing things like meeting esports teams that are making waves with their game. They should be playfully acknowledging that one joke going around the web about that one gun. They should be praising venues for hosting their tournaments well. Everything they can do to show their continuing support for the competitive scene behind their game. Getting involved in significant and smaller ways is the key for developers to be a part of the community that they themselves have created.

Having good-standing public relations is the way to keep players happy. They need to know that developers are right there with them, sharing the passion for the game. It’s as simple as being present through the good and the bad times. If devs handle any problems with professionalism and communication as well as celebrate the successes of themselves and their community, their player base will continue to thrive. Thus the game will continue to be a hit.


An update could be just what an old game needs, Image Courtesy Gale


New Content Means New Life For An Esports Game

Often developers of online games (especially competitive games) keep the play fresh by having big content updates every so often. This could include anything from holiday events to entirely new characters and maps that add more to the original experience. There’s no better way to keep people playing then to always have something new on the horizon.

Steam’s Team Fortress 2 and Counter Strike:Global Offensive still hold a massive player base and esports presence, with CS:GO being over six years old and TF2 releasing over a decade ago. Both are still supported by developers with content updates. TF2 has annual holiday specials with new items and maps every Halloween and Christmas, while CS:GO is still getting new missions.

Fortnite is another example, which recently overhauled its entire play map. With something fresh always coming, there's always something new to do and potential ways to play professionally.

New content can resurge the esports scene for a game. Some games can be endlessly replayable, but new content is what can make them stay big in the industry. Whether it draws old players back in, draws in newcomers, or even keeps current pro players on their toes, fresh content can keep a game returning to the limelight for years. Pro players will always be excited to try out new features to see if it can help improve their skills.

Of course, not all new content may be popular. Some of it could be downright hated by a large majority of the player base. It’s entirely up to the dev how to address this issue, but ignoring it wouldn’t be very wise. They should instead use the situation as an opportunity to see where they went wrong or why the new content isn’t liked and what they can do to fix it. Maybe it’s something that they can easily patch or just need to chalk up as unpopular and move past it to their next project. Either way, it’s a chance to show players that they’re willing to listen.

A newer way of dishing out content is doing it in ‘seasons’, or releasing it on a sort of scheduled calendar that can be accessed with purchase of a ‘season pass’. It seems to be keeping new content organized and well sized thus far. Devs innovating like this is a great way for them to keep the game supported for a long time. Plus, it keeps the competitive play more interesting to play and watch with the constant adaptability added in. For developers, new content not only revitalizes the game, but the players enthusiasm for it.

A team of professional esports players sit at their computers during a tournament
A game is nothing without players, Image courtesy Central Penn Parent


Lessons for the Developers of Professional Gaming

So what can happen when devs don’t please the players? The game dies out and fades into obscurity. Such is the case with Turtle Rock’s title ‘Evolve’. Evolve was a 4vs1 style monster hunting game that had a lot of hype surrounding it before it was released, and was looking to be a sure success in esports. However, publisher interference and conflicted work on the game led to a shaky launch. This is where players discovered a host of other major issues, like a lack of substantial content, power balancing and match-making issues, and an unwelcoming environment for new players.

It still managed to gain a decent player base despite the issues. Enough players that fixes could have saved the troubled game. Unfortunately, even if some blame can be placed on publisher interference, Turtle Rock failed to address big problems and the player count began to plummet. Transitioning to a free-to-play game wasn’t enough to bring people back, and ultimately, all dedicated servers were shut down in 2018. It never even broke through onto the esports scene. Players didn’t have faith in the support, so none took to it professionally and quickly moved on. Evolve now rests as a possible lesson that no matter how sure success seems, it is important to have a trusting and healthy relationship to players to keep it that way.

If developers put their love into creating the game, they should put that same love into supporting it and the players post-launch. It’s one thing to have an esports game, it’s another to act as a valued community leader and remain an esports staple for years to come.The industry has shown that esports games can leave a lasting legacy, there are even some emerging that have all the signs of a mainstay competitive title. However, the player count will inevitably begin to dwindle if nothing is going on with it. A developer’s work shouldn’t end when the game releases, it should continue as long as there’s an active audience. They should go that extra mile by fixing issues as well as regularly being self-involved in the community. Great care was put into building the game. That passion can be harnessed to create the connection to the just as passionate players.

If players are the lifeblood of an esports game, developers should act as the veins that pump them.

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Friday, November 15, 2019

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