開發者談如何運用和深度植入社交環境來驅動遊戲的傳播和留存

原作者:Sean Cleaver 譯者:Willow Wu

這款越來越受歡迎的2D社交遊戲Pixel Worlds的開發者向作者詳述了遊戲社區中社交媒體的重要性。

跟我們聊一聊Pixel Worlds吧。

Pixel Worlds是一款2D大型多人沙盒遊戲,有點像是怪物盒子(monster box)。我們是從2015年的夏天開始着手,去年11月測試發行,今年1月中旬在iOS和安卓平臺正式上架。所以,到現在已經有四個月多了,而且PC版本和Mac版本現在也在Steam上架了。

pixel worlds(from develop online)

pixel worlds(from develop online)

跟我們說說這款遊戲的跨平臺表現吧。

跟現今的許多開發者一樣,我們選擇了Unity引擎。這樣一來,把遊戲移植到其他平臺就相對比較簡單了,特別是你在一開始做遊戲的時候就考慮到跨平臺要求,實際上就沒有那麼難辦,就是多了一個需要更新的平臺。但是跟前幾年相比,更新遊戲變得容易多了。App Store以前因爲2周甚至3周的超長審覈期而聲名狼藉,現在不到24小時就可以通過了。如果是在安卓和Steam平臺,那真是秒過審。這個年代要做跨平臺遊戲比以前容易多了,就算是大型多人遊戲也沒問題。

社交媒體對Pixel Worlds起怎樣的作用?

在開始的時候,我們就決定把社交媒體作爲遊戲的重要組成部分,尤其是考慮到我們的主要受衆是少年、青少年們以及年輕人。我家的孩子是青少年,從他們身上我瞭解到他們不會去閱讀紙質的東西,也不會在網上閱讀。

他們喜歡的是看視頻,他們看YouTube, 看Twitch直播,什麼都看,還逛Instagram, KIK, Twitter。

我們決定把這些都融入到遊戲體驗中,增加對玩家的吸引力。但同時這也是一種營銷手段,因爲這麼做的話我們的遊戲就能通過社交媒體傳播出去。

我認爲把移動平臺作爲起點對Pixel Worlds也有幫助,鑑於所有社交應用都能在手機上用,比如iPhone或者是安卓設備,比較方便。

確實,而且YouTube可能就是我們最看重的社交媒體平臺,但是Instagram可以是不錯的第二選擇。在PC上你沒法好好發揮Instagram的功能,所以大家一開始都在移動設備上使用。從某個時刻開始,我們的Instagram主頁每週都可以增長20%,增長係數大概是6%-8%左右。

結合有機增長,你們搞定了社交媒體,人們通過這些社交平臺推廣你的遊戲,這方法對所有的遊戲都有效嗎?

對Pixel Worlds來說當然是有用,因爲它的本質和核心都是一個社交遊戲,目的就是讓玩家去號召其他小夥伴一起玩遊戲。小學高年級的玩家們會去跟整個班級的人討論這個遊戲,然後這個遊戲就在整個班級中流行起來,就是類似這樣的效果。有個德國的孩子印了1000份Pixel World的小宣傳單,然後分發給他家鄉的人,因爲他實在是太喜歡這個遊戲了。如果你的遊戲一開始就不具備社交性質,那你就沒辦法得到這種效果。人們想要和其他人一起玩。

至於是不是所有遊戲都適用,那得取決於遊戲本身,如果只是作爲附加功能,比如說你得了一個高分,你可以分享在社交媒體上,類似這樣的還不足以帶動其他玩家。你遊戲中所包含的社交互動元素越多,你的玩家就有更多東西可以展示給其他人看,自然,遊戲在社交平臺上出現的頻率也會更高。

你強調了一個條件:遊戲本身必須是具有社交性質的,才能讓玩家之間形成這種互動。你是如何平衡這種社交互動在遊戲的所佔比率?你在遊戲中設定的互動部分有多少?

在我們的遊戲中肯定是有聊天還有其他類似的功能,要是玩家在玩遊戲的時候感覺一切都很簡單,很方便,從而削弱遊戲本身的社交功能,那麼可能比較明智的辦法是不要讓玩家有這種感覺。遊戲內的經濟是由玩家自己掌控的,他們親手打造世界,貿易互通,就像是一個市場。你大喊一聲“我想要買一頂綠色帽子!”,然後也許賣家就來了。或者你想賣點自己的東西,一樣的,你去某個世界,然後告訴大家“我在賣東西。”

我們之前在考慮把這部分自動化,建立一個拍賣行,就像是《魔獸世界》那樣。但是這樣做的話就會減少玩家之間的互動進而削弱遊戲的社交性,玩家只需要搞定自己的Excel表格就好了。雖然這樣做有時會給玩家增加麻煩,但是玩家之間的互動也會隨之增加,這就是我們期望的。在現實生活中,如果你去市場買東西,或者上亞馬遜之類的電商網站購物,就算你是自己一個人去市場肯定也會比網購有更多社交互動。

這樣的話是不是就成爲角色扮演遊戲了?比如說成爲一個賣帽子的人?

不,我們的遊戲中不存在任何角色扮演元素。玩家們也不會給自己打上某種角色的標籤。並不是說他們要出去玩,然後就把自己打扮成特定的樣子。近期我們的更新的主題是武士,現在你可以在遊戲中看到上百個忍者和藝妓。玩家們喜歡裝扮,但他們並不是在這個情景中刻意扮演某個角色或者某個人物。更像是你跟好朋友出去逛街,通過服裝來展示你的個性。

你之前說25%的遊戲體驗都來自於社交媒體,跟我們解釋下這其中的含義吧。

這數字是我編的,並不準確,但我想要表達的是我們非常重視社交媒體,它是整個遊戲體驗中非常重要的一部分。我們團隊的很多開發者每天都會在遊戲中跟玩家互動,不僅如此,他們還會在Twitter,尤其是在Instagram和玩家交流。我們每週都會在YouTube的官方頻道中上傳新視頻,我們也會做直播。玩家們自己錄製上傳的視頻有好幾百個,相關的Instagram照片也有上千張,他們對於這個遊戲的熱情大概就是這樣的。就算你沒在玩遊戲,你也可以在其他地方接觸到Pixel Worlds和它的遊戲社區。

如果你上Instagram或者是YouTube,你總是能看到有人在發和Pixel Worlds相關的東西,話題熱度真的非常高。遊戲本身是一部分,但是退出遊戲之後你還可以在社交平臺上跟你的朋友繼續討論。25%只是我舉的例子,爲了表達社交在遊戲體驗中佔了很大比例。

這種社區營銷(找不到比這更好的詞了),你有沒有覺得它有時發揮了超越它本身的作用?

這要取決於開發者了,看看他們想要聽取玩家的多少意見,交流程度有多深。還有,你必須要經常思考:開發者知不知道什麼是能夠被當做是資源,什麼可以被應用到遊戲中,轉化成遊戲特色或者是遊戲機制。但是再次強調下,如果你想要提高社交互動頻率,擁有一個比較活躍的社區,你必須得去聽聽社區中的聲音,給他們爲遊戲出力的機會。就拿現在來說吧,我們舉辦了一些競賽。

其中有個比賽就是方格競賽(block competition),我們邀請社區的玩家設計22×22的像素方格陣,然後我們會選出最優秀的作品然後把它做出來,應用到遊戲中。我們舉辦了設計世界比賽(world planning event),邀請玩家設計出10×10模板。我們收到了上百個參賽作品,把那些比較出衆的整理出來,讓人們投票選出最好的那一個。這些玩家創造了整個世界。

我們努力地給玩家提供爲遊戲做貢獻的機會,當然很多玩家都是主動的,都不用我們發出邀請,他們幫助我們調整不同的遊戲機制或者是遊戲特色,或者是其他的都有。

遊戲的下一步發展計劃是什麼?

有件事情我覺得……好吧,也許不只是手遊領域,但是移動行業現在的競爭真的是非常激烈。所以從一個開發者的角度來看,當你覺得你做的遊戲還行,或者是不錯,挺好的或者怎樣,這遊戲至少還能看。然後,你得花上好幾年,一直一直把所有心思耗在開發這個遊戲上。

就拿Pixel Worlds來說吧,從最開始計劃提高它的社交活躍度到現在至少有5年了,但可能需要10年也說不定,我也無法肯定。之前我做過像《魔獸世界》那樣的PC遊戲,也花了那麼多心思,但是現在越來越多遊戲都轉入移動平臺了。人們會連續好幾年都玩某些遊戲,比如Beat或者Clash of Clans。那這些遊戲就必須在這些年內不斷提升。Pixel Worlds大概有20%的新內容也會在未來進行改造、提升,這挺讓人興奮的,但這需要耗費很多年。我不知道未來這幾年我們會做出什麼樣的東西,這種未知性讓人感到非常興奮。

所以這算是非常明確的答案了,社區的玩家們也肯定會喜歡吧?

是的沒錯,尤其是這類遊戲,開發者們想聽聽社區的反饋,如果可用的話,也會把其中一些建議應用到遊戲中。我們自己也是急不可耐。我們有一個很長很長的單子,上面列的東西我們這輩子都做不完,日復一日,我們的新主意越來越多,社區中的新想法也是如此。然後我們就選出最好的、最可行的那個,應用到遊戲中去。我認爲這麼做不僅僅是爲了這樣一個社交遊戲,就算是單人遊戲也應如此。競爭如此激烈的移動市場中,有越來越多的遊戲成功入圍,沒有被玩家淘汰,接着被開發者們繼續提升優化。

至少一年更新三次,或者是像我們,一個月左右就更新一次,我猜這跟其他大部分遊戲還是挺不一樣的。一般情況就是你做完遊戲,下載,玩家去玩,然後這遊戲就成爲往事了。但即使是單人遊戲,比如無限跑酷遊戲或者是其他類型的手遊,有越來越多的遊戲能夠讓玩家玩個好幾年。

當然,這很大程度上還是取決於遊戲本身,也許單人遊戲在這方面比較弱。但尤其是帶有社交性質的遊戲,玩家創造了這些社區,他們玩了遊戲,但是到了某個時刻,有些遊戲對於玩家來說最重要的不是遊戲本身,而是他們能在遊戲中遇見朋友,他們甚至都沒有以前玩得那麼勤了。

意思就是遊戲最終會變成社交場所,成爲了人們想要去的地方,而不是一個具有社交元素的載體?

沒錯,我通過Pixel Worlds還了解到一些相關的事情,比如有些孩子不再使用Whatsapp了,他們選擇進入到遊戲世界跟朋友聊天,反正大家都有玩這個遊戲,那就在遊戲中聊天吧。也許他們用Whatsapp發消息說:“好了,我正在載入Pixel Worlds,”然後他們就在遊戲中碰頭,一起玩遊戲。

本文由遊戲邦編譯,轉載請註明來源,或諮詢微信zhengjintiao

The developer behind the increasingly popular 2D social game Pixel Worlds talks to Sean Cleaver about the important of social media in game communities

Tell us a little bit about Pixel World.

Pixel Worlds is s 2D, massively multiplayer sandbox, kind of monster box. We started doing it a while back in the summer of 2015 and then soft launched in last November, and then released on mobile, iOS and Android, this January, mid January. So, we’ve been out a bit over four months now, and now we’ve released the PC version and Mac version on Steam.

Tell us a little bit about the cross platform capability of the game.

Like so many other developers these days we use Unity. So its relatively easy to port the game to other platforms as well, especially if you take that cross platform requirement into consideration when you start doing the project in the first place, and it’s not that hard actually. It’s one more platform to apply updates and to have on the loop, but updating games is easier now than it was a few years back. The App Store was notorious for the two or three week review times that they had, but now it can be less than 24 hours. Of course Google and Steam update really right away. It is relatively easy nowadays to do cross platform games, even when the game is massively multiplayer.

What part does social media play in Pixel World?

From the start, we decided that social media is an important part of a game like this, especially as the demographic is primarily pre-teens and teenagers and young adults. I know from my kids, who are teenagers, that they don’t read anything on printed paper. They don’t read anything online either.

What they do is that they watch videos, they watch YouTube, they watch Twitch streams, all of that, and they hang out on Instagram, KIK, Twitter.

We decided that we wanted to integrate those as part of the whole experience and that makes the experience more meaningful for the players, but it also works as a marketing because it spreads out on social media.

I suppose starting on mobile helped Pixel Worlds as well, given that it’s on the one platform where all of these social media platforms are as well, like an iPhone or an Android device.

Yeah, and YouTube is maybe our most important social media platform, but Instagram is a good second. You can’t really use Instagram in any meaningful fashion on PC, so everybody is using that on mobile devices to start with. At some point, our Instagram page was growing 20 per cent week over week, and I think in general it’s like a 6-8 per cent growth factor.

With organic growth, when you’ve got social media and people are promoting your game via those platforms, does that work with video games in general?

The thing, of course, with Pixel Worlds as it is a social game in its heart and its core, is that the players tell others to join in the game with them. We know people will have talked about the game to their whole class in upper elementary school and then the whole class started playing, stuff like that. One kid from Germany printed up 1000 Pixel World flyers and handed them out around his hometown because he loved the game so much. You can’t have that if the game isn’t inherently social to start with. People want to play with other people.

But for games in general, it depends on the game, but if it’s like tacked on, like you just have high scores you can post or something like that, then it’s not really deep and meaningful enough. The more social interactions you have in the game, the more you have stuff that players can probably show the others and the more it helps to be in the social media channels.

One of the things that you pointed to there is the game has to be inherently social to get that kind of reaction from people. How do you balance creating that kind of social interaction and how much interactivity do you promote in-game?

In our game, of course, there’s chat and everything like that, but a good example might be that we don’t want to make things too easy for the players inside the game if that would take away from the social aspect. The players themselves run the in-game economy and they build worlds that are for trading, like a marketplace. You shout out, ‘I want to buy a green hat!’, then maybe you will find a seller. Or maybe you want to sell some items yourself, again, you go to some world and tell everybody that, ‘I’m selling these blocks.’

We have been thinking about automating that, as an auction house like in World of Warcraft. That’s going to take away from the social aspect, because then people wouldn’t have to interact with other players, they could just manage their excel sheet. Even though it may be a bit more work heavy for players to do some things, there’s more social interaction for them, and we want to keep that in there. In real life, if you go to the marketplace, or you just buy online from somewhere like Amazon, it’s more social to go to the marketplace yourself.

Does this lend itself for your players to roleplay, if they take on a role, say, like a hat salesman?

No, we don’t have any roleplaying elements there in the game itself. They don’t role play themselves either. It’s not like they’re hanging out and they might dress up like. We had a samurai update recently, and now you can see hundreds of ninjas and geishas there. They like to dress up but they don’t play a character or roleplay in that sense. It’s more like hanging out with your friends and expressing yourself with the clothing.

You’ve said before that 25 per cent of the experience of your game comes from social media. Tell us a little bit what you mean by that.

That is a number out of my hat, but what it means is that we view that social media is a very important part of the whole experience. Many of us developers interact daily with the users in game but also on Twitter, especially on Instagram. We have the weekly YouTube videos in the official channel and we do streams. Also the players themselves are making hundreds and hundreds of videos, thousands of Instagram posts, so there’s like this whole butterfly. You experience the Pixel World and community even when you’re not in the game.

If you’re on Instagram or YouTube, there’s always someone posting something. The forums are really active. The game is one part but you can continue that and chat with your friends outside the game in the social media channels. 25 per cent is just an example in that we think it’s a big part of the whole experience.

Is there a point where that kind of community marketing, for lack of a better word, actually becomes greater than the sum of what it is?

It depends on the developer, how much he wants to listen to and communicate with the players. And, of course, you always have to take into consideration of does the developer know what are the resources and what is feasible to do as a feature or a mechanic in the game. But again, if you want to have an active social interaction and an active community, you have to listen to that community as well and give them ways to contribute to the game themselves. Right now, for example, we have a few competitions open there.

One is a design a block competition, so we have asked the community to design a 22×22 pixel block and we will decide which one is the best and our director will make that and we will include that in the game. with the results of our world planning event, first we get people that will make a 10×10 platform level. We got hundreds of those and we sent of the best ones and then people voted on the best one and those guys made a whole world of that.

We try to actively give the players ways to contribute to the game, and of course many of them contribute without even asking, adjusting different mechanics or features or whatever.

What’s next for the game?

One thing that I think is … well, maybe it’s not only mobile games, but the mobile space, is so competitive right now. So when you make a game you see that, as a developer, it’s doing okay or great, good, or whatever. But you see that it’s doing okay at least. Then, let’s say you need to concentrate on developing that game further years, and years, and years.

For example, Pixel World from the get go we planned again for it be active for at least five years, but maybe it will last ten years, I don’t know. Previously I’ve had that on PC in games like World of Warcraft, but you see more and more that in mobile as well. People keep playing some games for years and years on end, like Beat or Clash of Clans. Then the game has to evolve during those years. It’s really exciting because Pixel World has maybe 20 per cent of the content that it will have eventually, but that will be a journey of many years. We are really excited because we don’t know what we are going to come up with during those years.

So it’s very open book and also very open to what the community says they would like as well?

Yeah, that is true, because, especially on games like this, you want to listen to the community and when it’s feasible, to also implement some of the things they suggest. We are really eager ourselves as well. We have a mile long list that we could never do completely, and we get more ideas and the community gets more ideas every day. Then we try to pick the best and most feasible ones to implement. I think that’s not just for a game like this one, a social game, but even for single player games. You see more and more games in the very competitive mobile market that are staying there and being developed further and further.

Giving updates, like at least three times a year, or like us, every four weeks or so. I guess that’s different than what it was for most games even five years. Usually, you’d do the game, you’d download it and then they play and they’re done with it. But even with single player games, like endless runners or whatever on mobile, it’s more and more that people keep playing that for years.

Of course, again, it depends a lot on the game and maybe single player games are not that good in that respect. But especially games with any kind of social layer, people create those communities and they play the games and, at some point, some of the games one of the most important things is that you aren’t even playing the game that much but you are meeting your friends in the game.

It ends up being a place of social interaction rather than just having social elements and becomes a place where people will go?

Yeah, and I know from Pixel World, for example, that some kids aren’t using Whatsapp anymore, they are coming to the game to chat with their friends because everyone is in the game anyway, so they come to the game to chat. Maybe they use Whatsapp to say, “Okay, I’m loading on the Pixel World,” and then they meet in the game and play the game at the same time.(source:develop online