The head of the Blizzard Entertainment Community Development Department, Saralyn Smith, spoke about the role of the gaming community in the company’s work and ways of cooperation between game creators and their fans. Smith spoke at the Devcom conference taking place these days in Cologne.

According to Smith, a particular difficulty in interacting with the community today is its dispersion across dozens of network platforms and social services.

“If 10 years ago you were communicating with players on your official forum, now YouTube, Twitch, Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and other platforms have been added to this. The rules of the game have changed, and even one person can seriously influence your brand through social media if his story goes viral,” Saralyn Smith emphasized.

Blizzard conducts social policy in several directions:

Working with influencers

Opinion leaders and popular content authors in social media have great influence and opportunities. Blizzard invites well-known bloggers and professional players to the summits, where they can test new game builds under a non-disclosure agreement. Sometimes only a few guests participate in these meetings, but their experience and ideas help developers improve projects.

Search and promotion of talents from the community

One of the tasks of Blizzard’s community management is to notice the most talented and dedicated players to help them advance and become opinion leaders. For example, the company helped the owner of the Alliestrasza Twitch channel to increase the audience from 80 people to 100 thousand viewers, because Smith and her colleagues appreciated the charisma and individual style of a 24-year-old girl.

Another famous example is a young man Ian Bates, who was immortalized by Blizzard as an NPC in World of Warcraft for his encyclopedic knowledge of the universe of the Warcraft franchise and his love of finding inconsistencies in the plot of the series.

According to Smith, encouraging the love of games helps to build a strong gaming community, so other studios should also look for and encourage their “Ian Bates”.

Feedback from the community

Blizzard strives for openness in communicating with fans of its games. For example, the release of updates for the heroic Overwatch shooter is accompanied by a video in which the company’s vice president and Overwatch project manager Jeff Kaplan personally talks about current innovations. In addition, Blizzard instructs some developers to tweet about their work.

“It is right and profitable to keep the gaming community happy. And although we don’t always understand how best to achieve this, we still continue to strive for the goal,” Smith summed up.

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