Brand trust is an intangible but invaluable asset that any business should strive to have–and the game industry is no exception. But, like any valuable asset, brand trust takes a lifetime to build and a moment to lose. So, how do you deal with gamers on the passionate spectrum? Especially if you’re new to the scene, lost trust in the past or have achieved great success and grown to such a scale that expectations are impossible to manage and where frustration is inevitable? We’ve had a look at the steps companies can start implementing to build trust between its consumers - and these are tactics you can start to employ today:
Now let’s dive in to the specifics.
Consistency and reliability are a key factor for trust in any relationship – and this also applies to companies. When consumers can expect consistent and reliable products and corporate values, they’ll become more trusting of the brand you have to offer. Such a reputation may not be achieved with one release, but it certainly starts with it. And once that reputation is established, you may find consumers more willing to because they trust you.
CD Projekt Red, a “AAA” game development studio based in Warsaw, Poland, has this reputation down packed with their latest game, Cyberpunk 2077, which sits as one of the most anticipated games of the year - established by the huge success of the studios previous games, including the ‘Witcher’ series and ‘Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales’. These games are not only reliable in quality but they also consistently reflect the studios game style/genre.
Teamed with being consistent and reliable is being real and talking to your consumers with an authentic, human voice. This includes telling the truth and avoiding lies wherever possible, especially if they compromise your corporate values. By being real in your communication you are building trust that what you’re saying is what your feeling, which further engages your audience to participate in what you have to say (and what you have to sell).
A good example is the “AA” development company ‘Dontnod’, based in Paris, France, which actively works to talk to their fans directly on social media, promote fan content, promote their individual team members, celebrations and their studio. The company takes pride in their games and promotes them in a way that is unique to Dontnod, which is reflective of the style in which they make their games and their values.
This goes without saying, but quality is often compromised in order to meet timelines, expectations and creative ideas. And when quality is compromised, so is trust. Creating good quality content doesn’t mean everything needs to be ‘AAA’ quality – it just means that you must try and make the best with what you have. Work within your means so that you can achieve tangible goals.
Companies that are a great example of this include the Indie Development Studio, Ghost Town Games, who created ‘Overcooked’. Created by only two individuals – the games art is simple, yet effective with smooth and simple mechanics, a goal achievable by 2 skilled individuals – and as a result, the game was a critical success.
It’s easy to promise the world in a heartbeat to please – but this almost always backfires when you suddenly realise you’ve overpromised. False promises may give you a little boost in the beginning, to attract consumers, but they severely deteriorate trust if not met and can compromise not just your current game, but your future titles. Instead, make a point to understand your deliverables, seriously question what you can or can’t deliver and announce responsibility. Make fewer, better commitments and focus on your process and keep your eye out for contradictions. Focus on the long-term, not the short – under promise, over deliver.
And when it comes to this department, props must be given to ‘AAA’ game development studio Ubisoft regarding their title ‘Rainbow Six Siege’. Upon the games initial release, the game disappointed players but the company made a promise to work and improve the game for its fans. It succeeded, and to this day the game remains one of the most consistently popular games on Steam and Twitch.
10 years ago, transparently was less of a big deal, but today, in a growing world of sustainability, transparency is becoming huge and is often tied directly to trust. What is transparency? When a business is open about its operations. To be transparent, you need to be open, and this requires some confidence. Be open about your salary brackets, game profits, employee treatment, studio processes etc. This earns the trust of your consumers whilst also forcing you to adhere to your own rules.
Independent game developer, ‘Unknown Worlds’, creators of Subnautica and Natural Selection 2 are open and transparent with their fans and players. They regularly talk to the community about what they’re up to and have public agile boards showing every feature and task they’re working on. This openness has generated considerable popularity, consumer trust and support as a result.
Be honest and open to your consumers. It’s the act of being open about what goes on behind the scenes, revealing the good (success, releases), the bad (delays, under delivery) and the ugly (within reason) that builds trust. Of course, reveal issues only when they arise in the public eye or if they will directly affect the consumers experience. When you are honest this increases trust and makes your consumers more likely to forgive you when things go wrong as they feel more empathic due to their deeper understanding of the underlying issues.
A great example of this was seen recently in Nintendo’s announcement revealing a massive delay on the long-anticipated Metroid Prime Game. Instead of putting out a short announcement with no context, which undoubtably would have annoyed fans, Nintendo took the time to produce a video officially apologising and explaining the issues that caused the delay. As a result, players forgave the company due to the respect they were given and promise of quality.
When companies are communicative, honest and show humility, it all accumulates. Players who trust are more likely to forgive, take risks and pay more – so can you game afford not to have trust? Take steps today - even if they’re only small one - to improve your trust tomorrow and be prepared for anything that comes your way.
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