Eric Alexander Krutten

Game Designer, independent developer and consultant, specialized on System

Design, Game Feel, UI + UX, generally

free to play & competitive games.

[+49] 177 653 40 31

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(C) Eric Krutten 2014 - Website created by Eric Krutten

 

 

Twitch. A month ago, I had been asking myself why twitch is so impactful, despite being 

so low on viewers. If you look at the average viewercount, it absolutely negligible. For most days, the most played game has around 25-50k simultaneous viewers, yet Twitch seems to have so much impact in gaming right now. Then it struck me. 

The userbase of Twich is basically exclusively committed players.  
It consists of the top 0.1% which are streaming while committed players are watching. People opening twitch usually want to make a commitment (actively watch) and be part

of the experience.


This is why Twitch has so much impact despite being not really that popular. Its a place where only committed players go to, and those players make a huge impact on the web, despite being low in numbers. (And as you know, the committed players build up

the hype, generate their own content and so on, they made/make twitch big!)
 

Another example for committed users are activist groups. By nature, they only consist

of committed users! The 3rd Wave Feminism that is currently very strong per example, or religious groups. People were really into religion back in the times because they did not

have anything else to hold onto, and you see the impact they had (or still have in the east),

making it very easy to become part of a group and feel attached. On a side note, you 

can also be sure that the people flaming on you the hardest, also probably care the most.

 

Ending word:

 

Replayability and depth is very important, getting entry money from the Purchase and then delivering a great campaign or play-through is not enough to stay in peoples mind and heart. Still you have to know if your game desires a thriving community or does not support it in its core. (too short-lived). Make sure you know how to cater to the committed users,

and what they can do for you, as they are of most importance, and you will not hear from the others anyways. 

 

Also consider modding support, its a huge effort, but it can lead to greatness, appeals to

the committed users and can bring the snowball into rolling. Look at what the UT3 Editor has become (a engine Imperium), or the userbase Oblivion mods brought to Skyrim.

Anything that allows users to vent their dedication for the game can bring you tremendous

value.

 

I hope you enjoyed this article, feel free to build upon.

See you ingame!

 

- Eric Krutten

 

Hello, friends of the written word!
I want to share a realization with you today, something that I have been thinking about a lot recently. First things first, a quick recap about playertypes. We all know that different types of players make up our userbase. There is a lot of scientific study about those, very reliable and refined information in my opinion. Bartles well known Playertypes are the following:

- Killer
- Achiever
- Explorer
- Socializer
- Trader


And most players  share around 2 of those attributes, and they can change from time to time. I wont explain those as there is tons of information on them on the web, and chances are, that you know them already if you are reading this. The Trader is a (in my opinion) welcome, and logical addition from Teut Weidemann.

 

The tip of the Iceberg

 

The Iceberg stands for all our users and the analogy fits very well in this case, as only a small part of it is visible, while the rest is hidden, and it has a tip on the highest spot. (if you think about pyramid charts) I want to talk about a certain part of the playerbase that sits at the very top but seems to be never mentioned. We keep talking about converted players

(spending players) and whales but never about committed players and their 'whales'.

 

Only around 20% of the Iceberg, our Playerbase,

is visible.

 

What does this mean ? Visible means that you notice them, they have impact on both, your game and your playerbase.The large part of the userbase is playing the game in a normal

or casual fashion, they play a bit and jump off again ... they generate money and fill servers, but do not affect the other players, you or your game a lot. The unvocal majority.

 

The 20/80 is a rule of thumb, the Pareto Principle, which often occurs in economics and

nature. I claim it to be taking effect here, as it corellates with my assumptions and past

observations. The 20% should not be taken literally, it varies heavily from game to 

game, just take it as a small part of your userbase. 

Who are the 20% ?

 

The 20% are the players that are temporarily or generally committed to your game.

The frontiers make up a extremely small part of the upper 20%, but they contribute the most, essentially the Whales of commitment (monetization Whales, not arctic sea whales mind you!) One of those players can bring you more value than thousands of others.

 

Those are the players bringing your game, your company and your community forward.

 

I just call them White Whales here for simplification and the analogy seems to fit.

 


 

 

So what are those 20% doing for us, the devs?

 

The comitted players all do something for you and for your game. The 80% do not, they

are passive, but help populating your world, fill groups or teams for your other players however.


 

 

Image: Lolking.net for League of Legends

Please note all the listed services they offer and imagine the amount of work going into.
There are many sites like it, providing similar services. They are community driven, so they allow other players to make comittment their own. A white knight setting up a website and services, encouraging other players to contribute themselves. This is a prime example of

value given to a community by committed players. 

It is essentially a circuit or rather a snowball system. The leaders go first and the others follow. All the leaders, our White Whales, need, is a motivation to do so.

Thats where we need come in.

They enrich the experience for all your users.

 

They increase the appeal for your game for everyone by adding content, adding replayability and the longer people are kept interested, the longer they grant you these benefits.

They set up a scene around your game, a thriving community people can become bound to. They set up an environment that feels like something bigger and more worthwhile than just your game alone. There is a lot more to say about all the benefits, but you'll get the idea.

Note1: Some people buy games only for their modding community / content
Note2: Many socializers only continue playing a game because they play with a community they're grown into

 

I can imagine that some of the things sound very basic, such as helping someone in global chat in a game, but start a MMO or game with a global chat of your choice, and ask a question to be answered in whisper. How many players will answer ? Probably less than 5 in a populated city of 300 will write you back. 

Keep in mind very simple and trivial things can take a lot of commitment. 
People working in Web development / UX probably can tell you stories how one extra click or two seconds of waiting-time cost them around 30% of their users.

 

They are extremely valuable and we should start

designing with them in mind.

 

If about 20% of our userbase is doing all those things, then we just need more users, so we get more of them right ? Yes and no. 

While this is true to an extent (more people = more committed people in between) it is nothing we can work with. Everyone wants the biggest possible userbase, and is working towards that anyways. That goal does not bring us any further. Making the game for a larger audience CAN diminish your appeal for those players however!


Do you think King has many committed players with their Candy Crush franchise ? They surely do not. Those are probably under 0.5% but I have no clue nor data honestly. My guess is as good as yours, but its not about numbers. On the other hand, taking League of Legends as example, they have a huge margin of committed users and a lot of White Whales, but far less users than Candy Crush per example. 


Have you seen fan pages, guides, twitch streams or even people sharing their Candy Crush stories ? How come ? Candy Crush has 46 million monthly active users (MAU). 

 

There are some thing all the committed users 

desire, and which they share.

 

The formula is both simple but also hard to fulfill. 
The soil they need to grow is replayability and depth. 

If you do not have any depth to explain, nobody can write a guide. 
If there are no mechanics to master, there can be no player making videos with his skills. 
If there is no replayability or experimentation there is no time to sink in. 
....

If there is no time to sink in, people cannot really grow into contributors or White Whales.
Most of the committed players started passive. As they grow more familiar with your game and its community, they will feel more at home and be more likely to make any form of commitment. It's a giant snowballing effect.

We can take studies and similarities to Innovation & Early Adopters to aid here.

 

Here our Iceberg visualized. The top is a lonely place, and the White Whales are a very rare sight. Please note that the upper 20% also fall under the traditional playertypes, they still have interests based on them. Same as the playertype, the state of commitment can change at any moment, but users usually have certain preferences and behavior schemes that stay largely intact all the time. (IE a "lazy" player will always be very unlikely to make a big commitment, no-matter the game)
 

Image: Innovation & Early Adopters Bell curve
The X axis (bottom) is time. The longer the timespan, the more people adopt. 

Its exactly the same for the committed players. The longer the timespan, the more likely that they will contribute, as they grow more familiar with the game and will be confronted with
more and more things that they care about.


Many games end somewhere around the marked red line, by simply having not enough
replayability or/and depth to keep players occupied. Playtime is a major factor.
(This is the main point of showing the curve, don't overthink this) 

 

Note: The player does not have to play for a long time to feel attached. 
He can be converted by an announcement or trailer alone, which is more rare however. 

(just like the innovators) Many players have an already strong impression of your game, even if it's not released yet. 

Contribution is not binairy, (as in they either adopt or haven't yet) they contribute in certain strenghts, from writing a comment, to releasing a full conversion per example, and they do it for other reasons. Don't get too much into the innovation & early adopters behavior as it cannot be translated directly.

 

If the timespan of your game is too short, then there is less time for commited persons to 

exist. Players will know that the game is just a state and they will move on shortly.

On another level, if your game is not lasting long enough, the timespan for currently comitted players is too short to effectively recruit new players. Why would I join now, they are already halfway through..

 

 

A realization about our players, and how they impact our games

and us as developers.

Playertypes and the tip of the Iceberg

10 July 2014 by Eric Krutten "Shrike"

 A. Hype

 

They build up the hype. They talk about the game, they tell others about the game, they write about the game, they chat about the game. While using forums seems like a normal thing, keep in mind only a tiny part of the userbase is using forums or would give you a shoutout on their behalf on social media. Several statistics I have seen perfectly replicate the 80/20 rule for general forums. Around 20% of the users actually post, 80% mainly read!

For gaming forums, this is even worse. 20% of your playerbase may only read your forums,

and only a small part of those actually post things, as your game is obviously the main

medium, while for normal forums, the forum itself is the main medium. Knowing that, is

knowing that gaming forums have a very fine selection going on, so dont neglect your

people posting in forums.  

 

They will often defend the game against criticism, if you deserve it or not!

They are biased towards you! (White Knight association > White Whale)


Note1: They also increase the appeal for the socializer playertype.
Note2: They remember your name and will maybe try your next game aswell.


 

 

 B. Recruiting

 

This goes down to human psyche. If they enjoy what youre doing (be it a released game or simply a trailer) they want to share it with their important ones. Sharing is a human behaviour that sits very deep, and humans want their, and only their tribe to have the best things. 

Humans also strive for acceptance, and they want their close ones to think their judgement is worth something. People share things, they think are good, because they imply others will like it and have a better opinion of the sharing person, increasing his/hers judgements value. This is all subconcious however. The person with the best judgement is leading the tribe. 

Note1: They will also write Reviews, and they are nearly never objective in your favor.
Note2: They will often try to make your concurrence look bad if you want or not! 

 

The communities with the most committed players usually have the highest urge to 

look down upon other similar communities. This is again another basic human behaviour,

they feel as a community and empathy for their own kind, and anyone outside that circle,

is often an enemy. The stronger the person is comitted to your thing, the stronger he/she

will defend it, and the stronger he/she will often try to make other communities look bad, 

to make his/her own judgement / decision look better. People always defend their choices.

 C. Assistance

 

Another point for the White knight > White Whale or tribe analogy.
Those people will assist others if they are having problems. They want others to enjoy the game as much as they do, are generally helpful persons, want others to think good of them, or think better of themselves when helping others.

This starts with giving directions in your ingame-chat, and ends with writing bugfixes and mods, fixing problems or improving things where you made mistakes! The launches of many games have been saved by White Whales bringing workarounds and buxfixes to gaming communities. They also help with usability problems where your UX failed to explain. 

Note: They are essentially free tech and customer support! 

 D. Content

 

Creating content for your game is something only the White Whales do. This takes obviously a lot of effort and motivation, and only a tiny margin of your userbase is willing to make that comittment. 

They create Guides, set up Wikis, make videos about the game, create Fanwebpages, Forums, Unofficial leagues, Livestreams, Blog posts and so on.This goes to creating custom 3D models, or small mods up to huge total conversions, adding many hours of extra content.

Note: This can also be a very good player sharing his gameplay to others as form of entertainment or education.

Image: Thecandycrush.com
This is the first fansite that is coming up on google. Please notice the insane commitment differences between the League of Legends and the Candy Crush fansite, both visually and on the services they provide. 

Investment and replayability

 

The player needs to feel like playing the game and doing things is an investment that pays off and is worth his time. This is why League of Legends has so many White Whales and comitted players. The game has unending replayability, and it is alive. The comitted players are snowballing themselves, each giving value for someone else, and because theres so much value, and the game never ends, more and more are jumping in. 

Spending money, investing time or training skills feels like an investment that pays off and is worthwhile, like playing an instrument or sports. The game is not going away for some time, and having skills in the game is not obsolete in a year cycle or when the campaign is finished. All the insane commitment of the other players make it appear that spending time in, or around the game is not lost. League is an extreme example, but it is the same scheme for singleplayer-only games or any other titles.

Ever wondered why Skyrim is seeing as much community support and hype ? 
The older Elder Scrolls titles were a huge time sink and many players spend a lot of their time in those titles, growing big attachments to the series. Also the RPG genre is filled with players willing to spend time and tinkering, because that is what RPGs are about and known for. Then having mod support and a huge open world with uncountable hours of content is doing the rest of the work. 

The comitted players and the Whales are also pretty sure to share their insights, about when a game is worth contributing for. I think that most of the whales would not spend a lot of money if they weren't attached to the game and felt it was a worthwhile investment that

pays off in terms of fun. The more committed to the environment and the more value you see in it, the higher the willingness to spend money for/in it, and the higher the value of the things you buy. Keep in mind that reducing churn is not the same as making players enjoy the game in the first place. Nobody is going back to prison because you offer them something nice.

 

Any genre

Please keep in mind that English is my 4th

Language and there will be errors.