League of Legends has attracted one of the most dedicated online communities out there, and developer Riot Games believes the best way to grow an online game is to establish an ongoing, meaningful dialogue with its players.
Riot’s senior marketing director, Chris Enock, recently told [a]list Daily that the company prides itself on its decision to speak directly with players rather than focus on traditional marketing campaigns.
“Instead of just broadcasting a marketing message or talking at [players], we talk with them, typically on our forums or on social channels like Facebook,” Enock said. “We might start a conversation, but it very quickly becomes a real live conversation between players — a different beast entirely.”
Once these conversations are underway, Enock has found that League of Legends players become more interested in the game and start to care more about Riot’s brand. It even helps bring in new users as the engaged player base spreads positive word-of-mouth.
Of course, a game company can’t expect to nurture an online game community by just starting discussions on Twitter or Facebook. Developers and marketers need to actively take part in these conversations and form a meaningful bond with their audience.
“Marketers who engage in conversation with players must be authentic or players will respond negatively, challenging the marketer’s message and drowning it out with their own corrections or questions,” Enock said. “For League of Legends, that means we only do marketing around messaging we feel will both resonate with and ring true to our players.”
He added that this philosophy applies to all of Riot’s development practices. The company puts its players’ interests above all else, and the team has found that such an approach ends up benefiting everyone involved.
“We try to be the most player-focused company in the world,” he said. “This means we focus on building our brands from a player perspective[….] The net impact is that our players end up doing most of our marketing for us.”
This strategy of dedicating more resources to player engagement over traditional marketing must be working. Traditional marketing would have resulted in a more significant spend in ads, PR, and promotion for the launch of the game, which are designed to generate a big pop in awareness, but not necessarily player interest.
Riot’s approach in continually engaging their community has translated into their players spreading the word about League of Legends. It’s one of the few games that has increased its player base an average of 8% month after month, according to a recent Raptr Report.
Traditional marketing is a great way to get players to pay attention to your game, but Riot has proven that it’s far more effective (and far cheaper) to focus on the relationship you have with your players. Catering to your players’ needs fosters good will, makes users more loyal to your brand, and gets more people actually playing your game.
Read the full story here.