Developers must foster emergent behaviour and engage with players respectfully if they are to create a succesful game and franchise with a long lifecycle, says CCP CMO David Reid.
Speaking at the London Games Cofnerence 2013, Reid offered four key ways the Eve Online developer had kept its MMO community growing and create player loyalty.
The first pillar Reid advised developers to rely on was fostering emergent behaviour. He said that Eve Online had been able to buck the trend of the declining MMO genre by creating a sandbox and turning the control of the game’s universe and story to the players. He likened this to running a social network, where people are often advised not to control a conversation or debate.
To help with this, the company created the Council of Stellar Management – run by members of the community – to also speak on behalf of the players if they disagreed with any new features CCP had introduced, or any problems with the current state of the game. CCP also flies out members of the group to its studio in Iceland twice a year to discuss the game.
Other ways developers can create a gaming community for the long term are to engage with and treat the them respectfully, while also rewarding loyalty. He said that such a practice should also extend to employees, revealing that after ten years at the studio, staff members received a sword for their services. So far, 40 employees have received a sword.
"When you do this correctly, beautiful things can happen," said Reid. "Great franchises arne’t just buiolt through loyal players, but through loyal employees as well."
Lastly, Reid recommended developers maintain a certain sense of mystery to their games, to keep players entertained for the long-term.
"Doing that mystery is trciky to do, but has lots of rewards for players," he said.
Reid finished by saying to create a perpetual franchise, "great wasn’t good enough", and developers needed to constantly improve and get better.