What Can Video Games Tell you About Your Beta Community?

December 23, 2014

11:00 am

Do you remember an old game made by Big Fish Studios called Faunasphere? Mia Consalvo does because she’s a Research Chair in Game Studies and Design who actually studied the game’s development through a beta period, a web launch, a move to Facebook, and an ultimate shut down.

When she spoke at our recent Tech Cocktail Sessions in Las Vegas, Consalvo showed us that there’s a definite right and wrong way to go through this process. And when it came time to shut down Faunasphere there were a lot of unhappy customers.

The initial beta testers for the game formed a tight-knit, happy community where they supported each other and helped Big Fish hammer out the kinks in the game. When it came time to fully launch though, the new influx of players perceived this crew as negative because they were the ‘experts’ or ‘insiders’.

According to Consalvo, there’s going to be an inevitable backlash when you go into a wider release. And, of course, when they launched for Facebook in the era of Farmville there was yet another disruption among players.

Throughout it all, the players felt that they were being ignored by the company because there was no feedback. Six months later Faunasphere was shut down for good with nothing more than a one-month notice.

The players were devastated because they were losing out on their community of friends and the pets they had worked so hard to build in-game. These once die-hard, loyal customers felt betrayed because there was no justification to the decision: Big Fish remained silent.

This mentality is blatantly applicable to the tech startup world, especially with companies who go through their own beta testing period. The customers simply want to feel like they’re voice is being heard, like they’re cared for, and that the company is doing everything they can to give them enjoyable experiences.

Surprise: the companies that earn the respect of their customers are the ones that listen.

Here’s the video:


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Will is a Senior Writer with Tech.Co, based out of America’s Finest City: San Diego. He covers all territory West of the Mississippi river, digging deep for awesome local entrepreneurs, companies, and ideas. He’s the resident Android junkie and will be happy to tell you why you should switch to the OS. When he’s off the clock, Will focuses his literary talent on the art of creative writing…or you might find him surfing in Ocean Beach.

Follow Will on Twitter @WJS1988

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