How gauging community sentiment is helping games development

ProSiebenSat.1 talks to CMO about how deployment of a social community analytics tool is helping the games developer improve consumer experiences and its own customer intelligence

The rise in social channel interaction has made it impossible for organisations to adequately gauge and respond to consumer sentiment around their products and services without some technology help.

For one fast-growing European games publisher, deploying a specialised software tool to cover social community engagement is enabling it to not only better understand consumers but also improve customer experience in a way that benefits both its own bottom line as well as its partners.

ProSiebenSat.1 Games is the games publishing division of ProSiebenSat.1 Media, a Europe-based media company responsible for four TV channels in Germany. The games subsidiary was established 18 months ago is focused on licensing online and mobile games for the European audience and is the exclusive territory partner for Sony Online Entertainment Group for eight core titles including Everquest, DC Universe, Star Wars: Clone War Adventures and Free Realms.

Lead international community manager, Michael Oestreicher, is responsible for managing community interactions along with head of community marketing, Thomas Holtermann. Last year, the pair brought on the Jive Resonata platform for advanced community analytics, to streamline management of its community-based forums and improve its customer knowledge.

Jive Software acquired Resonata in May to add to its suite of social management tools.

Each game licensed by ProSiebenSat.1 Games has its own social channels and community forums, several of which stretch across seven languages. “We are growing very fast and have a lot of different games, and in the community management department there weren’t enough people to handle all the communication channels and forums we wanted to handle,” Oestreicher explained.

“Resonata brings all our different communication channels into one place.”

The software is browser-based and was easy to deploy, Oestreicher said, making IT support unnecessary. Key benefits include almost real-time updates on its various gamer forums, as well as productivity gains by eliminating the need to manually monitor social channels.

“You can have hundreds of different threads per forum where people are posting and commenting, which makes it difficult to manage,” he said. “The forums do have some search capabilities, but Resonata has made this much easier by giving us the ability to search all of the forum information and track users simultaneously.”

It was also important the team can measure the mood around updated components in the games such as new features and patches, special events, or changes in how players interact, Holtermann said. Entry is free to any of ProSiebenSat.1’s games but upgrade and other interactive options are offered for a fee.

“It is important for us to see the correlation between the feedback on our games and the KPIs we have around them,” Holterman said. “We need to engage how the customer feels in a way that relates to the money we make.”

It’s the day-to-day tasks where the software helps most, Oestreicher continued. “Resonata takes out the manual work and gives us the information in one place,” he said.

“Another good function is the ability to create reports. For example, on one particular game community you can define a time range where you monitor all the information available, or search for specific topics. It’s particularly useful if we have a major update in the game.

“We’re also able to scan all of the community channels for information and collect all the feedback. In the past we’d crawl the forums ourselves and get 10-15 per cent of the feedback and with that, we’d guess the community liked the patch or feature. With the software, we can analyse the complete sentiment and see how the whole community reacted.”

Having a better information resource is allowing ProSiebenSat.1 and its games developers to adapt future releases based on what the community likes. “We need to make these guys happier, otherwise they won’t spend money in our games,” Oestreicher said.

“If you’re well entertained, trust us and see us reacting to your feedback, then you start spending money in the games.”

The games developers also get better feedback from the company through Resonata’s sentiment graphics and metrics, Oestreicher said. Although it’s hard to measure the exact dollar impact of the new social community analysis, the software gets more powerful the more community channels are added into the mix, he added.

Oestreicher said ProSiebenSat.1 continues to expand its games portfolio and will be introducing several new significant titles, and in more languages, in the near future.

The Resonata software currently covers English and German forums but the community team is now evaluating its potential across other languages.

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