Social networking company Raptr shared the results of its research on the relationship between publishers and gamers, stating that a "community-as-service" model promoting direct interaction with a game's audience is key to successfully promoting brands.
Community services, such as rewards programs for individual games and platforms, help establish trust between a publisher and its audience. Raptr's study found that video game companies with frequent community interaction attract more gamers and keep them playing their games longer.
"If you take a community-as-a-service approach, the focus is on creating a relationship with a player over time, but getting a game in front of a user is the beginning of that," Raptr CEO Dennis Fong told Polygon. "When approached in the right way, the model contributes to the success of the business, and feels like a good will gesture for gamers."
In-game community activities, user-generated content tools like Steam Workshop, modding tools, eSports tournaments and livestreams like those available on Twitch, and loyalty programs are a few proven ways to retain community engagement, Raptr's research states. Games with high support from its developer or publisher retain players twice as long as games that don't, according to the report.
"We want to give companies the opportunity to reach these gamers."
"In order to do this properly, companies need to provide services to the player that build trust over a long term and integrate community as a core idea from day one," Fong added. " They need to provide real services to the community that players can actually use."
The report, based on data collect through Raptr's networking service, cites Portal 2, Arma 2 with its soon-to-be-standalone spin-off DayZ, and League of Legends as games presenting exemplary community-as-service models.
Raptr implements its own loyalty program, Raptr Rewards, which gives players goodies like beta access and special in-game items based on the frequency of play and earned rankings in specific games.
"Raptr rewards make people happy, you have to qualify for them, and with them we can give the most avid players something really special," Fong said. "People who play thousands of hours of games can get something back for it. And companies get to reach the type of people that they want.
"It's not just a blanket add campaign," he added. "We have precise data on what people like, how active they are. We want to give companies the opportunity to reach these gamers."