In today's online game market, it's essential that developers leverage social media to form a relationship with their players. Facebook, Twitter, forums, and other social hubs are all great tools for maintaining an online community, but how should a developer use these tools if they really want their games to grow?
According to Sony Online Entertainment's Linda Carlson, there are many answers to that complex question. There's no "one-size-fits-all" approach to social media, and each studio will have to discover their own unique strategy for themselves.
But at this year's GDC Europe
, the community relations expert took a moment to explain how SOE found its way around the social media landscape with games like EverQuest
and Free Realms
, and Carlson noted that it all came down to one core idea: Experimentation.
"One of our driving mission statements is that innovation is driven by experimentation," Carlson said. "The good thing about that is we can be wrong. We can experiment, we can be wrong – completely wrong – but we can mess around and not be crucified for it until we get it right."
When SOE first tried its hand at social media several years ago, the company had no idea what it was doing, she said. Only after trying – and failing at a number of different strategies did the company discover how social media can benefit its online games.
Developers and community managers should never be afraid to take risks, Carlson said, but be aware that it is possible to push things a bit too far.
"Consistency is very important. You can't just do a few things this week and then not go back for a couple of weeks. People drift away very quickly if you're not providing them with a steady stream of information that is interesting," she said.
Throughout her presentation, Carlson offered even more details how SOE conceived and refined its social media strategy, and you can check out her talk in full in the above GDC Vault
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