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Author: Brett Phipps
Senior Editor



5 Ways For GaaS Titles to Attract and Retain Players

Games-as-a-Service (GaaS) titles are becoming more and more the industry norm, with the benefits to both consumer and publisher clear. For consumers, GaaS means a bigger return on investment and the confidence of buying a game knowing it won’t be replaced in a year’s time. For developers, it means lowering development costs by sticking with a single project for far longer than in previous generations.

But, with much of the industry offering GaaS titles, how do you build and maintain an audience in the long-term? Below are just five ways in which you can ensure your game has a sustainable player-base for years to come.

1. Build a roadmap

If you want people to stick around, they need to know they’re valued. Presenting a roadmap of amazing content arriving in the weeks and months after launch shows players you’re in this for the long haul. Gamers have undoubtedly become sceptical about GaaS products that have lost support from their developers far too soon due to a lack of success, and showing your commitment mitigates this.

Short-to-mid-term updates should always have firm (or as firm as possible) launch dates attached to them, while the bigger, long-term content can stick with ‘launch windows’.

The key things to avoid are stagnation and speculation, and a roadmap helps you stay in control of the messaging.

A clear and concise one-page roadmap for social will help create shareable content that gives a succinct picture of your game’s future. But this content then needs a big trailer to put meat on the bones and excite fans.

2. Seasonal content that offers varied tone

Even the most hard-nosed of military shooters have shown a willingness to add new skins, modes and special guest characters which deviate from its lore and tonality. Each new season of Warzone presents a refresh of what the game can “feel” like the play, with the arrival of ‘80s action heroes like Rambo and John McClane the wildest yet.

Even if your product lacks the budget to bring in a Rambo, Batman or Neymar Jr., each new season needs to bring a noticeable new style that can reinvigorate the player base. Knowing which direction to take will entirely depend on internal analytics, audience mapping and sentiment analysis, to give you the best chance of reaching the widest group of players.

Then, it needs a kick-ass campaign to present the tone through every asset, trailer and even the copy of your marketing posts. 

3. Build FOMO

Throughout the lifecycle of your product, players will begin to move away and onto other titles. The natural decline in player count can be mitigated with content refreshes and season updates, but these are only effective alongside a solid marketing campaign that showcases all the cool stuff that, should these lapsed players return, they will get to enjoy.

Of course, the content is ultimately what will bring players back into the fold, but raising awareness of the arrival of cool stuff is what will get their foot in the door.

4. Connect to wider culture

For your GaaS title to consistently reach new audiences, your product needs to speak to more than just its own world.

Being able to tap into pop culture and talk with players about the things that interest them will ensure your game doesn’t become an island.

Tapping into moments in society and producing reactive content that authentically bridges your brand to news will ensure your brand consistently remains relevant, and will be at the forefront of the games industry and, hopefully, break into other fields, too.

Games such as Fall Guys are as well known for their brilliant social media presence as they are for an excellent video game, and people want to connect with both.

5. Create annual/bi-annual BIG refreshes

If you maintain a strong, passionate community, while continuing to onboard new players throughout your title’s life cycle, there’s naturally going to be quite a disparity between your day one/hardcore players and your newcomers, not only in terms of in-game items, but also in-game knowledge. A way to level the playing field is by hitting that big red reset button.

Activision brought a new map to Warzone, Overwatch regularly resets player rank and Fortnite had the guts to delete its entire game world.

There will come a time where minor tweaks and adjustments will no longer cut it, and players will want something more substantial. Being able to treat an update as a “2.0” release is a great way to both excite your fanbase and entice new players, who up to this point have been put off by the steep learning curve/high skill level of the player-base.

Marketing and messaging are key around these moments, and building your product to speak to new players is as important as explaining the minutiae of balances to day-one fans.

Making everyone welcome is what will grow your audience, and making your long-time players feel valued is what will keep them engaged.