In the latest in a series of interviews with speakers from this August's GDC Europe, online specialist Teut Weidemann of Ubisoft's Bluebyte Germany (The Settlers Online) discusses the essentials of community management on social networks.
Weidemann has worked in the industry for over 25 years, and began his career as a producer and development director for Amiga titles such as Turrican. He later founded Panzer Elite developer Wings Simulations, and in 2005 served as CTO of Panzer Tactics DS publisher CDV Software Entertainment.
In 2007 Weidemann entered the online games market, consulting with various companies before finally landing at Ubisoft's Bluebyte to work on the acclaimed browser based title The Settlers Online.
Drawing from his experience working in online games, Weidemann will host two talks at this year's GDC Europe: A Production track lecture on supporting free-to-play games dubbed, "f2p Online Games: The Game Is Not Enough," and a Community Management Summit talk titled, "Community Management in The Settlers Online."
With GDC Europe just over a month away, Weidemann particularly discussed his upcoming Community Management Summit talk, and outlined the importance of regular developer-to-player interaction, as well as the differences between Facebook and other social channels.
In your experience, what are the best ways to foster the growth of an online game community?
The most important thing is service. If your community perceives that you care about them, they stay. Players love the attention, and they'll recommend the service to their friends. It's the best way to grow a game because it's free. Marketing is growing the community fastest, but that growth is meaningless if you don't manage to keep the new users.
Did you or your team learn any hard lessons when managing the community for The Settlers Online?
We are still learning. We approached the community for the game with years of experience in community management, and we still had problems satisfying players' needs.
We established an open communication strategy, but we underestimated the frequency of interaction the users demanded. The internet is moving faster than ever, which means that we need community managers constantly online and talking to users.