Players Want Publishers to Respond to COVID-19 And The Data Proves It

COVID-19 Game Publisher Poll GamerSpeak

March 27, 2020

This week, we posted a survey to our gaming communities of Superusers about COVID-19, to see how they feel about the lack of responses from their existing game publisher and what they would like to see as a response. None of the publishers in this survey have responded to COVID at the time of this survey as of the date of this post

This is a moment of testing (or opportunity)  to see if game publishers will respond and provide a sense of relief to their player base. 

At the end of this post, we’ll share some takeaways and recommendations that you can utilize right now to connect with your gaming community and create goodwill with your brand during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before we dig into our findings, it’s important for us to define and outline a few things:

A “Superuser” is a player that:

  • Spends a significant amount of money in-game (“significant” can vary from game-to-game)
  • Is influential in the community
  • Plays a game every day for several hours

The game titles we surveyed have hundreds of thousands of daily players. A small percentage of those players responded to our survey, but 70% of them spend over $100/mo on their game. 

We have removed the names of the games and publishers from this report to protect our client’s privacy

With that bit of housekeeping out of the way, let’s dive in!

Results of the Combined Surveys

We combined the responses from over 700 Superusers across 4 game titles and 2 publishers and included our observations.

Superusers are overwhelmingly unhappy with no response from publishers and equally overwhelmingly said it was important to acknowledge and respond to COVID-19.

This chart speaks for itself. Silence is not an option at this time and respondents let us know that loud and clear.

Overall, we see that respondents feel the gaming community is important to them in times of normality. We also see an increase in importance during COVID-19. We attribute this to people being in “lockdown” and spending much more time in-game and online. It’s important to enhance their online relationships at a time when their offline relationships are suffering. 

As you might expect, respondents want free or discounted items in their games. Publishers should see this as an opportunity to hand out resources that encourage players to continue to grind or progress through the game, or temporarily offer resources at discounted prices. Publishers can focus on rewarding retention a lot more than usual during COVID-19 outbreak.

However, if a publisher wanted to be extra awesome (like Call of Duty), they could lower prices for a short period. This could generate revenue from players who normally wouldn’t purchase items, and incentivize those with a lack of income right now to still make purchases. 

Finally, you could give resources back that are low revenue items (like Raid did) which will appease your players and demonstrate goodwill.

Publishers have an optimal window of 1-3 days to respond to their players. Respondents even indicated that 5+ days is acceptable. Whatever you do, don’t respond on day 4 for some reason.

Conclusion and Takeaways

People are stressed because of what is happening. They are losing their jobs, being confined in their homes, and having their overall life disrupted. They want an escape and also an opportunity to connect with other people. There is an incredible opportunity for game publishers to respond to these needs in tangible ways. Here are a few things that we recommend publishers do right now:

  1. Be vocal and engage with your gaming community. They want you to acknowledge that you understand what they are going through. They want to see that you are currently or plan to do something for them in response to COVID-19. Your Superusers want to hear from you. Most want a response within 3 days, but for many, a response even now (5+ days) is better than none.
  2. Give some cash or donate to charity. Show that you are using the money players spend in your game for good during this time. This is an opportunity to shift the perspective that developers only care about profits and they don’t care about their players (or people). The best way to do this is to donate some of your revenue to support COVID-19 relief efforts (like IGG/Lords Mobile did).
  3. Make an extra effort to engage with your communities. We see a jump in importance of online gaming communities during a crisis. Go where your players are, listen to what they are saying, and respond.

Game publishers can and should engage and discover opportunities to connect and give back to their communities during a crisis.

Top 5 Quotes from Respondents

We included a question that simply asked “Anything else you would like to share?” at the end of our survey. It was an optional question, yet 43% of respondents answered this question. Here are some responses that caught our attention:

“I just want a distraction from the news. Something for me to log onto. I love this game, the community mostly. Some of the best people I have ever met, I met on this game. But I could speak to them without this game, using line chat. So all I want is for the game to be more hands on. More events, mergers and stuff. Would be fun. 😊”

I’m just disappointed that there’s not even an acknowledgement from [game publisher] regarding COVID. I don’t mind that there’s no special packs cause that’ll look like a cash grab. But a simple email email acknowledging the seriousness of it along with a hope that everyone is doing well would be a nice sentiment.

“I sent out an email to my guild (which was then shared with the community) to just check in and people appreciated that. There wasn’t much else I can offer, but the thought got across.

Regarding the community, the [game name removed] has always been important to me to a certain degree. Prior to COVID, when someone hasn’t been on in a while, it would seem like they’re just busy and will be back online soon. More recently, whenever someone who regularly checks in suddenly doesn’t show up for 3+ days, it brings up concern.

What I love about the community is that no matter how far apart we are or different lifestyle we live, there’s a common ground – usually it’s getting shafted by [game publisher name removed] – but you get to see the good side of people outside the competitive atmosphere of the game. Although, recently you’ve also seen the the spiteful side of people when they’re restricted and use the community to take their issues out on.

Those who run the [game name community] get a lot of unwarranted criticism. Let it be for not having enough information fast enough or surprisingly having too much information too quickly. But those who realize the time and money involved to keep things running, to gather and share all that info greatly appreciate the work put into it. So, thank you! ✌🏽😘”

“I have played this game for 3 years. Across many servers. Your customers are stuck at home and facing financial troubles. Especially for the players who have spent money in the game, it would be nice to think we are truly appreciated. We are going to be on the game more with worldwide shutdowns, give us good achievable events that we can complete without spending money to help us advance and keep us entertained. Please”

“More team-based events, so people are conversing/interacting with others, during this time, where isolation could be more profound than normal. Not sure if this is possible, but possibly events that guilds need to co-ordinate together to be able to win the prize, not inclusive of new guilds made on the day of the event. The countries are literally cut off from each other, getting a multi-cultural event could help keep the world a little bit open.”

There are hundreds more comments like these. Players want to hear from you.

Let’s Connect!

We hope our survey has been helpful to you! If you would like to learn more about how GamerSpeak can unlock the power of your players click here and schedule a free consultation with us.

Share your thoughts about this survey below. We’d love to hear from you!

Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

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