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Creative Assembly’s Grace Carroll on community being all about two-way communication

Every month, the team at Creative Assembly debunks some common dev role myths. This month, Grace Carroll, lead community & social media manager, explains how it’s about two-way communication and not just selling the game.

Community management and social media is something that differs from studio to studio, but the general principle remains the same – the community or social media manager is there to provide a link between the players and the developers, and to allow a two-way conversation to happen on the right terms.

It is also a discipline that changes frequently – as from quarter to quarter the platform with the audience most relevant to your game can differ. It can be difficult to pinpoint these trends as it’s all very fluid. However, Facebook groups, expectations of transparency and Stories across platforms are all getting big.

Transparency, in particular, is something that has growing value within the game industry. It’s important not just to sell your product but to keep in mind that your players are your community – you don’t just want them to buy the game, you want them to enjoy the game, to value the things that your developers have worked hard on and to feel an affinity with one another.

We’re in an industry where the player has a voice, through Steam reviews, Reddit posts and Twitter hashtags, and they won’t hesitate to speak out if there’s something that they’re unhappy with. Being honest with your players, even when you’re delivering bad news, is something that benefits both of you. This is something we’ve done previously when we have had to announce a delay for the Three Kingdoms release date or when the launch of Norsca ended up running into unplanned difficulties.

“Being honest with your players, even when you’re delivering bad news, is something that benefits both of you.”

 

My advice is to be able to build a strategy based on honesty and engagement, but also be adaptable to change depending on the players’ needs and the needs of each individual game. For example, with Total War: Warhammer I and II or Total War: Rome II, a knowledge of the setting’s history is widely available to the primarily Western audience. There’s a foundation which we can build on with assumed knowledge.

With Total War: Three Kingdoms, the approach had to change – instead of simply showcasing the game, the community team’s goal was first and foremost to inform and educate the community on the history of the Three Kingdoms time period, so they’d be able to enjoy and fully immerse themselves.

Ultimately, community management and social media is an important role and an exciting one to be in. It certainly requires a deep knowledge of the online landscape as a whole, as well as experience more specific to the game industry. It is still changing and evolving day to day with the introduction of new platforms such as TikTok and the potential decline of others. Player expectations also change depending on the climate within the industry, the genre of your game, and your previous responses to community feedback.

About Seth Barton

Seth Barton is the editor of MCV – which covers every aspect of the industry: development, publishing, marketing and much more. Before that Seth toiled in games retail at Electronics Boutique, studied film at university, published console and PC games for the BBC, and spent many years working in tech journalism. Living in South East London, he divides his little free time between board games, video games, beer and family. You can find him tweeting @sethbarton1.

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