Building a Low-Cost Gaming Community for Prelaunch Game

Building a Discord Server for your Gaming Community is incredibly cost-effective, fun, and easy. We’ll explain why you should choose Discord for obtaining actionable feedback from your players during your Prelaunch (Alpha/Beta/Closed) Game.


The era of Facebook Pages, Reddit pages, and forums are dying in the world of gaming communities.

Traditional social platforms have been underperforming for connecting with their respective communities as newer platforms like Twitch, TikTok, and Discord are gaining popularity.

Now, that’s not to say that traditional social platforms don’t have their uses in the gaming community. We dive deeper into which social platforms are best for your gaming community in What’s the Best Platform for Game Developers to Obtain Community & Actionable Feedback?

We’ve extensively researched over 50+ gaming communities and observed their various successes and failures. One common characteristic of successful community engagement has been the use of their Discord Gaming Communities.

“The research findings demonstrate that forty-six percent of the respondents have their main community on the Discord platform. Respondents prefer the Discord platform due to it “being easy to set up and use”, that “people already have accounts” and “platform independence”.” – A Study of Community Engagement on Discord for Game Marketing

Spellbreak’s Success with Discord

Spellbreak has had amazing success with driving its gaming community to one centralized location. Their Discord team focused on creating a community with volunteer moderators (who know various languages to help navigate International players).

Spellbreak’s development team helped share some of the workloads of managing Discord as well. They would share gameplay clips, videos, and assets to generate hype and discussion in the Discord community.

“We sort of relied on the entire dev team to help with the engagement on Discord. Having them drop clips of what they were working on or join in the playtest was valuable.

You don’t need a large team to start this, but I think it’s really important to have one or two people focused on your growth side and creating that content and doing that work. 

And the sooner you can start to slice off resources to be developing that sort of content or enabling your community to develop that content, the better off you’re going to be because it’s always going to be a challenge to prioritize it against the development team.”  Seth Sivak, the CEO of game publisher Proletariat – From Unknown Title to Viral Game: 12 Growth Lessons From Spellbreak.

Sivak explains how they focused the community into Discord, including offering players an early access key to Spellbreak’s Alpha.

“We knew that email wasn’t frequent enough to actually drive the community. So we focused the community into Discord. And the way we did that is we said, “Hey, once you sign up for a key, it’ll take a week or two to get there. If you came in as a referral, we’ll give it to you right away because we figured you were already tapped into the community because you had a referral.” But, if not, we would say, “If you want a key really fast, join our Discord ” And so what would happen is people would see a viral post on Imgur, and they would sign up for the email.” – Seth Sivak.

Something as simple as offering an early access key via joining their Discord was a brilliant move that allowed them to focus all their community efforts on one designated platform. Just a note, Spellbreak’s Discord has 220,000 members compared to their Reddit that only has 20,000. 

Sivak mentions that game developers should leverage a platform like Reddit to pin specific patch notes and developer discussions. Some game developers might not have the luxury of controlling their Reddit, unlike a Discord Server they have full control over who can access it and be a part of it.

“I don’t know if Reddit’s the right thing long-term because, again, I think we only have 19,000 or 20,000 people in our Reddit or something like that. It’s definitely much smaller than our Discord, which has like 220,000 or something. So it’s something that we don’t use as much. Right now, though, the vast majority of the things on Reddit are memes. And that’s what we’ve seen from all of our channels, that they slowly get taken over by everyone just sharing memes. And we’re kind of okay with that. But that’s what we use Reddit for.” – Seth Sivak.

Additionally, while they had all of their developers on their Spellbreak Discord Server as Moderators, they also outsourced Volunteer Moderators who were active members of the Spellbreak gaming community*.

*Pro-tip: We talk more about picking moderators from the gaming community further in this article. This is a crucial part of building an amazing community. You want to bring on Superusers as Moderators to help your developers and your community!

Some quick Discord statistics:

Discord Registered Users 

300 million

Discord Monthly Active Users

140 million

Discord Peak Concurrent Users

10.6 million

Messages Sent on Discord

850 million messages are sent every day, six billion each week, 25 billion every month.

Three Steps to Build a Low-Cost Discord Server

Running a Discord is cost-effective and doesn’t require much moderation. There’s an incredible amount of Discord bots that can help with moderation. Additionally, some bots can help make your Discord Game Community more fun, engaging, and inviting.

Commonly used Moderation Bots include:

Please refer to our article, Top 5 features of Discord’s “Community Server” for further information about Discord’s features.

Additionally, you can set up a Discord Channel that’s a dedicated Player Feedback Loops. This is a fantastic method to engage with the community during a game’s launch’s alpha/beta phase. 

Obtaining your feedback in the Discord Community will ensure that your game’s development stays on track and guarantees your customer base’s satisfaction. 

It creates an amazing opportunity to create a free (or low-cost) method to exchange active conversations with the gaming community and work with some of the most passionate and knowledgeable players in the game.

You’re creating opportunities to solve many problems that you’re facing in game development by creating conversations and building relationships with these players.

How to Build a Discord Community

Like most things in life, tackling a new challenge like building a Discord Server can seem daunting at first. After building five different Discord Servers (for both professional and casual use), let me reassure you that it’s not that difficult at all.

But I understand that it can feel taxing if you don’t know where to start, so here are some great guides and videos to help you. A majority of these sources are ones that I’ve used before when creating a server. Once you read through them, it shouldn’t take you much time to build a solid server in 3 to 4 hours.

Again, this is assuming if you’ve never built a server before. Once you build your first one and familiarize yourself, it shouldn’t take you more than a few hours to build another server in the future.

There’s a slew of amazing resources that can help you create a Discord Server. Here are some of the ones that I use when I’m creating one or that I refer to others to use:

How To Build A Community On Discord

How to Build an Engaged Community on Discord

6 Steps to Build an Engaged Discord Community for Your Brand

Best Practices for Starting a Great Community on Discord

How we used Discord to build a dream community for our game Descenders

Discord Server Setup Tutorial – 2021 BEGINNER GUIDE! (How to Use Discord)

Also, make sure to become a member of Discord’s Official… Well, Discord! Just kidding; it’s their Discord Developer Server. Their developer server offers technical support and an amazing community that can direct you to amazing resources.

If you’re looking for a simple template on how you should create a Discord server, you’re in luck! Simply click the link here and you’ll be directed to an easy, one-page template on what your server could look like.

Creating a Player Feedback Loop

Once you’ve created your Discord server, you should have a channel dedicated to player feedback. This can be located in the <Support Tab> (or whatever name you chose to designate where feedback is).

The various channels we use in <Support Channel> are as follows:

# Bug Reports (Room Dedicated to Post, Announce, and Share Bugs with the Publisher and Other Players)

# Developer Feedback & Suggestions (Suggestions and Feedback for Current Events, Upcoming Events, and/or for the Publisher in General)

# Game Feedback (Room where Developers can communicate with Superusers or VIPs about specific features that are upcoming or have recently been released.)

# Discord Suggestions (Suggestions for the Discord Server; Specific Rooms, Additional Rooms, Additional Options, etc…)

Depending on the size of the server, you might want to eliminate or add more rooms to accommodate the size of your community. 

You can set up voice calls, live-chat discussions, or simply observe the gaming community during an Alpha/Beta phase and see their response to various features that you release in a game’s LiveOps.

When you want to interact with them, you can ping them by tagging all of them by their role and asking them to have discussions with you in a designated room. Or you can create “Invisible Rooms” that are only visible to specific players with specific roles.

For example, if you have a pool of Superusers who are masters of your game, you can give them a special role and designate specific times/dates for your Game Developers to get into a room with the Superusers.  

You can discuss future plans for the game, how the community reacts to new heroes, features, patches, balance changes, or anything else your developers want to know.

If you need help in deciding what kind of players you want to designate as your Superusers, make sure to read our three-part series (PSST!!! BIG HINT! Our Superusers are Moderators for all of our Gaming Communities! They make amazing Moderators for your Discord Server!):

What is a Superuser? Defining the Unsung Heroes of the Gaming Community

Why Should You Acquire Superusers? Their Superpowers Will Help Your Game Save Time, Money, and A Lot of Headaches

How to Build the Perfect Superuser? Creating Your Specific Superusers Will Give You the Tools to Build a Healthy Game Community and a Successful Game

Below are great examples of two games that utilized Discord during their prelaunch phase. By working together with a specific group of players, they were able to build an amazing community that felt a part of the game’s development and future. 

The community helps the developers build a better game and the community gets to enjoy a better game in return. It’s a beautiful relationship!

In Pocketwatch Game’s Tooth and Nail’s Discord Server, they had #testers, #balancing, and #troubleshooting channels. Additionally, they had a Role specifically for Alpha Testers named “@Testers”

This gave the Tooth and Nail’s Moderators and Game Developers multiple rooms to have different discussions with the Testers. The Testers also had a designated area to report specific issues, bugs, and crashes, offer suggestions and talk to other testers about the game.

Tooth and Nail’s Discord Channels, their descriptions, and Server Roles

“We wanted to make sure that the communication was really intimate,” explains producer and designer Andy Nguyen, “because if they had a problem we needed to make sure that they communicated exactly what the problem was so that we could fix it specifically.” 

But the studio’s IRC channel never saw more than around 35 people, likely due to IRC’s high barrier to entry for newcomers. A fan suggested they look at Discord, which is less off-puttingly spare than IRC. They agreed and made the switch. But Discord quickly evolved into something much bigger for the Pocketwatch team, who realized its potential to become a central hub for the Tooth and Tail community at large.” – Producer and Designer Andy Nguyen, Gamasutra: Devs share tips on using Discord to build a pre-release community.

For Boss Key Productions game, LawBreakers, the developers utilized and leveraged bots to make the community more lively and engaging. Additionally, they were able to set the bots to help answer basic Q&As in their Discord.

“Bots are really helpful,” explains communications manager Rohan Rivas, “because at the end of the day we’re still a small team.” They’ve set up bots to help answer basic questions about price, release date, and beta invitations. And studio head Cliff Bleszinski has figured out other ways to utilize the bots for community building. 

This, for Rivas, is the biggest lesson in using Discord for community building. For Boss Key, it all comes down to transparency and direct engagement — and Rivas makes a point to encourage the dev team to spend time in the chat.

LawBreakers Bot addressing a player’s questions in their #beta-feedback Room

“Sometimes you need that status check,” suggests Rivas. “If you’re a gameplay engineer and you just want to pop over into Discord real quick, say hello, and then one person says, ‘hey! What’s going on with the latency in x, y, and z?’ And then the engineer can be like, ‘Oh, we’re working on that. We have a fix that’s coming.’ Boom, boom, boom-boom-boom. Just that little tiny exchange goes a long way.” – Rohan Rivas, Communications Manager, LawBreakers, Boss Key Games – Gamasutra: Devs share tips on using Discord to build a pre-release community.

Now that you’ve created specific rooms to meet with your Superusers and gaming community, it’s time to use the feedback and suggestions they give and try to apply those changes to your game.

Obtaining Feedback and Suggestions

When you launch a new feature, patch, buff/nerf, or any type of LiveOps, reach out to your Superusers and get their impressions of it.

Create the conversation, if they haven’t done so already. Ask them, “how has the community received the newest patch?”, “Did the community enjoy the new event? Why or why not?”, “Did the new Hero generate a lot of hype and excitement?”

The above questions are all good places to start; however, if you want some amazing questions to ask your Superusers, please take a copy of our KPI-Questions. These questions are answered all the time by our Superusers. 

The questions are custom-tailored to ensure the Superusers answer your most important questions with specific details and methods to improve your game’s quality and overall satisfaction.

Also, don’t be afraid to show off some of your new assets, ideas, and features for your game. You’re internally generating excitement and hype about the game. This will help generate Community Response/Discussion/Feedback with design assets (Heroes, Worlds, Environments, Enemies, Abilities, Weapons/Equipment).

Furthermore, it will help to generate word-of-mouth, excitement, and conversations about upcoming features and possible problems that you can prevent before a game’s launch.

If you share a new asset and the gaming community becomes super excited, that’s an indication of a good sign; however, if they don’t become excited, you might have to shift gears and change a bit of the design.

For example, you are about to launch a new hero. You can share new character design assets in the Discord Servers. You could share a video of its combat animations or various costumes, equipment, skills, and weapons the hero will use.

This would be an excellent opportunity to ask your gaming community what they liked or disliked about the newly released asset. Maybe they think that the new hero doesn’t look cool or similar to the game’s overall aesthetic. Maybe they think it’s too powerful and needs to be toned down. Or the opposite, they think it’s too weak and no one is going to use that hero or try to purchase/obtain it.

Genshin Impact does an amazing job producing high-quality videos to showcase its characters. This generates hype and excitement and urges the gaming community to try and pull the hero from their Gacha system. 

Character Demo – “Zhongli: The Listener” | Genshin Impact Video (21+ Million Views)

Genshin Impact also offers player surveys about a week after a new patch goes live. They’ll ask players what they thought of events, new weapons, new heroes, and if they enjoyed the new features in the game.

They incentivize players to take the survey by rewarding them with in-game currency once completed. It’s truly a simple and effective solution to collect a mass amount of feedback to help improve your game going forward.

Takeaways

To review, let’s summarize what you need to do to set up a low-cost gaming community on Discord:

Create a Discord for your game (<Insert Game Name> Discord Server; ex: Guilty Gear Strive Official Discord Server, Genshin Impact’s Discord Server, Final Fantasy 14’s North American Discord Server)

Invite your developers into the Discord and designate them specific roles (Developers, Moderators, Testers; you can use basic titles or be fun and creative and come up with titles that relate to your game’s aesthetic)

Organize your community channels (Information channel, General Chat channel, Feedback channels, etc)

Delegate and assign your roles (create roles for your Developers, Moderators, Superusers, VIPs, Testers, etc)

Promote your Discord server (promote through your social media platforms, your website, in the game’s advertisements)

Nurture, grow, and keep your Discord active (have the developers drop game assets to generate hype, host Q&A’s with Discord Video Calls, ask the community their thoughts about the game, set up meetings with your Superusers/VIPs to discuss the technicalities of the games features, LiveOps, bugs, patches, and more)

Our CEO, Chad Kihm, summarizes growing and nurturing your gaming community by “growing a garden”:

When you take your first steps to create a Discord Server, don’t forget, except for your Superusers, everything listed above can be created for free! With your Superusers, depending on the budget you have available, you’ll want to compensate for their hard work with in-game rewards, real-life money, or a combination of both.

Again, if your budget is relatively small, BE TRANSPARENT with your Superusers! Explain to them that you want their feedback and input to help improve your game and in turn, you’ll reward them for their efforts (it might take some time and that’s ok as long as you’re honest!). 

You want to share the future plans with them and allow them to create and build an amazing gaming community. When your game launches and you have more positive cash flow, you can compensate your Superusers then.


If you’re still not confident in building and managing your Discord Server, please feel free to contact us and schedule a free 30-minute consultation!

We can help explain the nuances of running a Discord Server for your gaming community, or even help design, create, and manage a customized Discord Server for your game!

Our GamerSpeak Method will create an amazing experience for your gaming community, which will deliver actionable feedback directly to your game developers!

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