Divinity: Original Sin is brand spanking new and is making a colossal first impression. It was released on June 30th of this year and has already managed to snag GameSpot’s Game of the Month for July. Within four days of launching it sold 160,000 copies, quickly becoming Larian Studio’s fastest selling game (at the time of writing, the Collector’s Edition is still sold out on the Larian Vault). It’s easy to get pulled into the new game glow. On Original Sin’s website it describes the game as “a 3D RPG with old school roots” which is enough to make me feel tingly. Many others liken it to Baldur’s Gate, Skyrim and, personally, it reminded me of NWN – especially because of the inter-player relationships and “henchie” aspect. This nostalgia factor is something that modern gaming culture has been craving.
If you’ve ever yearned for a game that will let you live the fantasy life of your dreams, allowing you to do things other games don’t, then this week’s video game community management review is just for you. We bring you Mabinogi, another long running, though underrated, MMORPG. While initially quirky in appearance (it promises that you can “live your anime life”), Mabinogi is actually steeped in tactical combat, complex character development options, and unending plots, quests and even jobs you can pursue. In truth, the appeal of Mabinogi lies in the fact that it’s unlike any MMO you’ve ever played. Nexon, the developers, really tried to create an environment where people can live out their fantasy lives, complete with customizable anime appearance (people who appreciate anime will automatically connect with this game). Throw in the passage of time, weather, commerce, Shakespeare, and the ability to rebirth and you have Mabinogi.
Nintendo’s best kept secret is at their US headquarters. The Treehouse – an elite, tight-knit group responsible for localizing some of the franchise’s greatest titles – is located here in a high-security office. The only people that can step foot in these fabled rooms is the video game localization team which encompasses English translators – as well as French, Spanish and Portuguese for all of the North American market – the audio-visual department, product management and the quality assurance team. All of this security is to protect projects from leaks, company secrets and to maintain the Nintendo mystique. Nintendo has a reputation to uphold and wants to ensure that every single game that leaves its doors is polished, perfect, and with all the touches that you expect from them. It’s that level of intensity that makes Nintendo’s games such high quality – so the Treehouse remains a secret.
Being a fan of another NCSoft game, Guild Wars, I was excited when I was asked to dig a bit deeper into another one of their titles – Lineage II. One of the most exciting things about Lineage II is the fact that they proudly advertise the ability to play Truly Free (as they call it). This means that there’s no subscription and you don’t have to buy an access code or software. If players would like to buy in-game items that might help them on their quest then they can do it by using real money to purchase in-game NCoins. Players can play the game without spending a single cent – unless they want to.
Of course, it’s natural to think when games get this big that what’s going on behind the scenes is bigger than we could possibly imagine. It would take an army to support the hordes of players striving to improve their characters, complete quests, or find the perfect clan. It takes an army because Lineage II is so much more than the few characters you interact with on a daily basis. It has a huge Asian and North American following, multiple servers dating back to 2010, and over 14 million players. I was tasked with taking a look into their international community management and localization, so I started my research in the hotspot of activity – the forums.
From Lineage II’s official site
At first glance, it appeared to be a very capable community. Players would respond and help other players and exchanges had a very upbeat and knowledgeable tone; a welcoming place and resource for new faces and a stomping ground for veterans. This is a big part of successful video game community management – when you can rely on players to help each other and provide each other with useful knowledge. Of course, this kind of relationship is to be expected on forums, but it really is the hallmark of a healthy community.
The sheer number of sub-forums seemed a bit overwhelming at first, but I quickly regained my footing. You see the typical News/Announcements, Questions, Discussion, Suggestions, Community; but a quick scroll down reveals Technical Discussions, Server Discussions, different Class Discussions, and the assorted archives. Staying caught up with these would clearly be an endeavor – and apparently it has taken its toll. The community managers are somewhat nonexistent. Other than the usual server maintenance announcements and events, the CMs are quiet and rarely even venture to clarify things when further asked. You would expect to find community moderators in their stead, answering difficult questions, making clarifications and helping to build relationships between the managers and the masses, but even they are missing. It was at this point that I realized the forums were relatively dead aside from a handful of people.
I decided to move on to social media. Perhaps the faster paced day-to-day interactions were happening here. Lineage2.com only provides links to three social media channels: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. I was mildly disappointed not to see Google+ or a blog, but I figured that they had the big ones covered. When I looked at Facebook and Twitter two things occurred to me. First, there was no variation between the posts for either channel – if you followed one then you got pretty much the exact same information on the other. Secondly, 90% of the content was server maintenance announcements, peppered with a few screenshots from the upcoming release of Ertheia.
I began to scroll back through the history and all I saw were the same posts over and over again about the servers. Where was the fun? The engagement?
A sample of the server posts
By the time I scrolled back to May I started to see more activity: contests, announcing winners, handing out buffs on servers, trivia, screenshot competitions; and then it just stopped. What happened here? It was a post-apocalyptic Facebook page. Though they still had events after this point, players were lucky to get one post about it. YouTube wasn’t any better. Previous years had anywhere from 15 to 20 videos uploaded – this year there are only two.
I decided to turn my focus to ‘why is this happening?’. The obvious answer is that fewer people are playing the game – and it seems to be true. Players in the forums share tales of woe about empty servers, the inconceivable amount of bots, and the question, ‘is it worth playing L2 anymore?’ What this game needs is not another update, more in-game stuff to buy, or screenshots – it needs more real people. Adding more community managers could help to create a buzz and get people excited to play again. Moderators could be appointed to help the CMs with daily tasks. Developers should shift their focus to eliminating the use of bots so that people actually work at improving their characters instead of relying on a program to do it. Lineage II is a great game and has the foundations for a fantastic community; it just needs to be populated. When a game starts losing players, the answer isn’t to reduce community management efforts in tandem, but to increase them in order to help combat this lull.
This review isn’t all about what L2 needs to fix, because they do quite a lot right. Their customer support system is awesome. Everything is laid out in sections pertaining to common player questions: in-game support, account support, technical support and payment support. They cover all the bases upfront so that players can find their answers here before emailing the support staff. This is by far one of the most efficient systems that I have seen and I’m sure it helps many more people than the support team even realizes.
Lineage II Support System
It’s obvious that L2 has had some extensive localization – how else could a Korean game gain such a huge following all over the globe? The American website is huge with extensive information, links to community pages, the Marketplace, and downloads. While on the other hand the EU site is serviceable with basic information about classes, locations and enemies all available in eight languages – not the end-all-be-all resource, but it’s better than nothing. The Russian site is definitely a step-up from the European site by offering downloads, community links and server information, but the only thing that can compare to the content on the US site is on the Asian sites. Due to the game’s large Asian following you can find a lot of buzz on these here.
The official social media outlets are a bit lacking outside of the US. The Lineage 2 Europe Facebook and Twitter accounts are in English, but there are separate pages for Polish and German. Other than that there are no localized language posts on the main Europe page like you would expect. On the Asian side of things, all things Lineage II are announced on NC’s official channels for each language. This doesn’t seem to detract from the L2 mood since the official channels make a serious effort to respond to Players and create dialogue. Of course we can also rely on the fans to provide information and inspiration in any language.
The Japanese vs. US sites
The amount of fanpages and clanpages is astounding and would deserve an article all to itself. Not to mention dozens of public and private servers that cater to any international audience – the amount of information is unlimited. Lineage II truly has worldwide fans and their love and appreciation goes into the country/language based pages they create. Not to mention the individual social media networks devoted to each niche of players based on their location or language – Lineage II proves that a game’s global reach is supported by their fan following. The creators have done an amazing job of localizing their game. The translation work makes you feel like it was made just for you, the player, and you might not even realize the detail they put into it. This is what constitutes a good video game translation – you don’t even realize it’s translated. Couple that with the ability to find localized material online and you’ve truly created a world-friendly game.
That is why the connection between community management and video game localization is integral; because once you have reached that worldwide audience you need to preserve the connection with people. I was more than a little disappointed to see a fabulous game with nearly nonexistent community managers – a nonexistent community! From what I could see L2 had that, but for whatever reason it is dwindling, and the lack of CMs, moderators, and overall excitement in their social media is not improving their situation. They have everything in place here to have the most vibrant MMO community on the web but they’re not taking advantage of it. Players don’t need to be bombarded with new things to buy and server updates – they need a community to make things exciting and developers to crack down on bots so the game can get back to what it was; players coming together to complete quests, improve their characters, and have fun.
Creating Buzz: **
Making Connections: *
I was very impressed by the scope of Lineage II. Their localization and customer support system are very well thought out and implemented, and their loyal fanbase further promotes their international image and stellar game. Now if they could step-up their community management game then they would be a force to be reckoned with – and it wouldn’t take much – because they already have the framework in place, they just need the people to populate it.
MO Group International provides excellent international community management, video game localization and quality assurance testing at a price that fits with your project. We offer our services in over 40 languages and can custom tailor our video game translation services for your needs. If you’re interested in our specialties and services then feel free to contact us today for a free quote.
The Witching Hour: Game Community Management in Bubble Witch Saga
You may have heard of King.com via its plethora of successful Facebook games such as Candy Crush Saga and Farm Heroes Saga. King.com’s incredibly simple, and therefore incredibly addictive games have caught up with the Internet the world over. The bright colors and simple concepts make the games attractive to people of all ages. The question is, how does King.com keep their gamers happy? International community management is the answer, and they have the immense job of handling plenty of ardent fans from around the globe. Let’s take a look at Bubble Witch Saga.
Bubble Witch Saga is active on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter as well as on their own specialized forums. Like any good international community management team they must deal with fans’ complaints, problems, and ideas while promoting the game. They also keep a channel of communication open between players and developers. They’re sort of like the referee in a football match; they want the best performance for both teams and they’re there to resolve any issues, protect your interests, and keep everyone well informed. For example, recently on Bubble Witch Saga there was a rumor spreading that it was possible to obtain around 5,000 free Facebook credits. Community managers are there to dispel said rumors and keep you informed:
Rumors such as these can often cause friction with disappointed players, and this is where community managers have to step in to diffuse the situation. Issues like these are what community managers deal with on a daily basis; on the Internet rumors spread like wildfire, and they are there to contain it.
Community management is not always visible on Bubble Witch Saga, but that does not mean they are not observing and monitoring the community. They will step in when needed, and on channels such as their Facebook and Twitter pages they provide useful and entertaining updates on the game. In fact, the forums are quite cleverly set up. Gamers post questions and fellow gamers answer, which creates a sense of community within the game. Truly desperate questions like losing money you spent can be directed at customer support, but other questions can be answered by other gamers. This doesn’t signify that the community managers don’t care – it’s quite the opposite in fact – by abstaining from the conversation they are stimulating discussion amongst users to promote the community and strengthen it. However, it can go the other way, and one question leads to a list of questions that the community managers need to answer. Here is one such example:
Bubble Witch Saga also has its own website which hosts forums and support pages. This demonstrates the success of the game, and makes it easier for community managers to see what gamers have to say about Bubble Witch Saga. When it comes to the forums, the layout is clear and succinct – a player instantly knows where they should go for whatever they need. Moreover, fans in the forums appear happy overall, and when they aren’t, community management is there to offer support. King.com is setting a fair example of what community management should be. Without effective community management their games wouldn’t be half the success that they are and, by the level of attention to their support, it’s evident that they are aware of this.
However, it is not always obvious how to access forums or support pages in other languages, as everything is in English. This could be a problem for those who enjoy the games, but know no English. On Google Play you can find Bubble Witch Saga in French and Spanish, but when you visit the Facebook page or official website, everything is in English. While it is useful that you can access the game in different languages, it could be a little difficult for the gamer if a lot of the information and support is only available in English. However, use of other languages by Bubble Witch Saga can be found, such as on their Twitter. A fan asks something in Spanish, and they are replied to in Spanish. If there is enough demand, then perhaps there should be a separate Twitter page for Spanish, as well as for any other languages supported.
One aspect of the Bubble Witch Saga game community management that is an asset to King.com is the Facebook page. It is easily accessible, full of information, and clearly laid out. There are many useful pictures and updates to keep fans in the know. Similar to that is their Twitter with pictures and updates. However, again the Twitter posts are not localized into other languages, although there does seem to be a Spanish resource available to answer questions, as the above screenshot implies. For both Facebook and Twitter, much can be said about employing a multilingual community management strategy. Not having a variety of popular languages makes it harder for international fans to engage with the game. If there were localized community management then King.com could open up a whole world of new opportunities and possibly even expand into new markets.
There are two features which are missing on the Facebook page which is interesting to note. There is no wall for fans to post anything to, and there is no way to send a private message to Bubble Witch Saga. In this sense they aren’t accessible for communication, although they make the game easily available to users. The only way that gamers can communicate through the Facebook page is by making comments on the pictures and videos that are posted. This leads to many gamers trying to post questions on the comment section, derailing the topic and causing much confusion. Moreover, some users are simply spamming the posts by putting ads for coins and the aforementioned free Facebook credits, which suggests a neglect of moderation on this page. This is unhelpful for the majority of users and should be removed by the community management team. Here is one example of recent spam on the Bubble Witch Saga Facebook page:
These sorts of posts are annoying for gamers and community managers alike. However, if a gamer is forced to ask a question on such a post, they will get a notification from every other person who posts after them. For the gamer it can feel like all the other fans’ comments are spam, especially if they are not getting their questions answered by anyone. And not all the questions are answered, or if they are, it’s only after a significant amount of time. Questions are addressed sporadically. Moreover, if you have a question and you are on the Twitter/Facebook page, it’s not immediately obvious where you should go for customer support, nor whether there is any other language support for non-English speakers. Surely if you offer the game in French or Spanish then support for these languages should also be offered?
International community management is a challenge, and it is one that King.com and the community managers at Bubble Witch Saga have taken on relatively well. The game has a huge following and plenty of positive reviews. Information and useful data is provided to gamers as well as the opportunity to communicate with community mangers and other fans. They also prove that multilingual community management works, and can be discreet. Their style is to be emulated but King.com’s approach could be improved by offering an equal level of support for each of the languages that they cater to. Effective multilingual community management can help a business with its online community by reaching out to others who previously felt isolated, or even by reaching out to new markets. English may be a widely spoken language, but customers who are offered support in their own language will feel more comfortable interacting with that service and are much more likely to share their positive experiences. Game community management will never be a simple job, but when your fans are happy it is rewarding.
MO Group International is an expert in multilingual community management, and localization. With experience in over 40 languages, we can provide high-quality advice and professional services tailored to your business needs. Please head to the website for a quote on our services.
MO Group International Joins Star Wars: Force for Change to Support UNICEF’s Innovation Labs
Obi-Wan said that the Force binds the galaxy together. Now it’s time for Star Wars fans to come together to prove the weight of his words. The Star Wars: Force for Change charity sweepstake is supporting UNICEF’s Innovation Labs to help solve many of the common problems in developing countries. Some of their projects include: supplying rural communities with low-cost water hand-pumps, registering children so they can be reunited with their families after natural disasters, and the solar-powered Digital Drum which provides children with educational material in communities without electricity.
A few weeks ago we presented you with part one of our Twitter for Multilingual Businesses article. In this article we introduced you to a few simple techniques to capitalize on your international Twitter campaign. Today we’re going to take that a little bit further and see how the different business features provided by Twitter can be used in multilingual social media campaigns in order for you to reach more users and increase visits to your site. Twitter itself provides us with the tools to reach our markets. Let’s take a look at some of them…
Since its inception in 2006 Twitter has fast become one of the most powerful social media sites for businesses. Many companies have seen firsthand the staggering impacts of utilizing the micro-blogging site, so why so many are still reluctant to start tweeting in multiple languages remains a mystery. The truth is that, if you are an international business, then you need to be tweeting in the languages of your target markets; simply communicating in English is not good enough.
It’s easier said than done though, isn’t it? It took you long enough to get your head around using Twitter in one language, so how do you go about the mammoth task of replicating your success in several other languages? Here are a few tips to get you started:
Multilingual Customer Support for Gamers: Why You Should be Online
Over the past 25 years, the video game industry’s customer support systems have exploded to epic proportions. When we were youngsters playing Duck Hunt we never thought about connecting to the Internet to share our winning streak or to complain about how our Zapper didn’t work when we fired it a centimeter away from the screen. Now our online world blends so seamlessly into our gaming lives that it’s hard to imagine a gaming system without a multilingual customer support network. One of the foremost ways to connect with users is through social media, and for the gaming industry this has enhanced players’ ability to engage with each other, the brand, and customer support teams.
The last seven years have seen monumental changes in terms of the way we share our interests and news with one another. Many of us have pairs of shoes older than Facebook, but instantly sharing content online has become as firmly fixed in our daily lives as that morning cup of coffee. Telling the world about your embarrassing faux-pas on the way to work isn’t banked for later, it’s out there before you’ve even stopped blushing.
This pedal-to-the-metal rush in sharing content has already added to the complexities of social media marketing, where companies try to preen and prune their online community, provide additional online services, and establish a social connection with their audience.
Only now is gaming truly entering this sphere; with ‘next gen’ consoles only being released every six or so years, Sony and Microsoft have had a lot of ground to catch up on this time. PlayStation and Xbox might have been tweeting and posting for years, but in November when the PS4 and Xbox One were released, gamers wanted to see their console’s hardware integrating with their digital social lives too. Sharing that jaw-dropping touchdown, or that game-ending sniper shot with friends and fellow gamers is as important as tagging your holiday snaps – it shares the moments that matter to you.
The PlayStation 4’s ‘Share’ button allows gamers to do just that with four button pushes. Although slightly more complicated, the One also supports content sharing, but with voice commands. Players can instantly upload content to Twitch, uStream, and soon YouTube, and from here these posts can be linked to Facebook and Twitter accounts.
So what does this mean for international video game community management?