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how to build communities on mobile

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Can you build strong communities within mobile gaming? Read on for some words of community wisdom from our Head of Social, Chris!

I started working in Mobile a few years ago. I distinctly recall a conversation I had with a friend before making the switch from Console / PC gaming, where I shared concerns of whether mobile games *really* sustained strong communities. Were they too casual? Would people really care enough?

Fast forward to today, where right now I’m looking at our 100,000 strong Discord server for Rebel Racing and our 85,000 strong in-game forum community for Top Drives. People do care as much (if not more) than I’ve seen people care about PC or console games. Today I wanted to share how we think about Community at Hutch.

Give people a voice

Mobile game development often adopts a very data-driven approach to making games. This is great - data can be relied upon, and gives us important clues as to how players interact with what we make. It’s also easy, however, to look at data and forget the humans it represents.

For us, simply including links to our community platforms in each of our games has helped us grow highly engaged communities almost overnight. From here, we’ve been able to introduce custom bug-reporting bots, hold AMAs, run giveaways and gather game feedback from the people who love our games. All of this helps us humanise our playerbase - we look at the stats and the people they represent on a regular basis, combining quantitative and qualitative data to help inform the right decisions.

Don’t think for a moment that mobile necessarily means casual - the players who join us on these channels are anything but.

Think more about UGC

If I were to ask you what you use your mobile phone for, you’ll probably tell me ‘social media’. It’s a no brainer, then, that giving the players who enjoy your games the ability to share content they create directly to social will result in increased social visibility for your brand.

It’s particularly easy to overlook the live-streaming market when you think about mobile. Today, platforms like Twitch and Facebook Gaming offer native streaming support on mobile. It’s as simple as pressing a button to find yourself live streaming your face, voice and favourite game to one of these platforms. At Hutch, we’ve been exploring how we can reward and incentivise our players to create more user generated content - be it screenshots, live streams or video on demand content.

Find your advocates and work with them

We’ve set up Player Councils on our games at Hutch. They consist of a small number of avid fans, who we talk to openly about the development of our games. Of course, keeping your wider player base up to date with what you’re working on is super important, but having a smaller number of players with whom you can have frank discussions about development can yield powerful results. And it’s not just a one-way exchange - while we talk in depth to players who love our games, we’re able to give them a window into the world of game development, and with that comes a better understanding of how and why we do what we do.

If you’ve ever worked in Community Management, I don’t have to tell you how important it is to identify and work with your community leaders. Player councils are just one way of doing that, and by maintaining positive relationships with those who carry clout in your community, you’ll find over time a natural trickle-down of their positivity to your wider communities.

Remember the lurkers!

The term ‘lurker’ refers to those who actively read discussions in your community channels, but don’t partake in discussion. Around 90% of your community will consist of lurkers - making them one of the most important considerations when you lay out your community strategy.

With mobile games, those silent majorities can be enormous, and can hold real value when it comes to word of mouth recommendations of your games. Don’t look at lurkers as inactive community members, and instead think of them as potential advocates (or detractors) of your brand. They’ll decide how they view your game and community based on the discussions they see, so be diligent when it comes to interacting with your communities, and make sure those discussions are helpful, insightful and constructive.