Video and online gaming is no longer just about utilising a game for fun and relaxation. It has evolved into a lifestyle that encompasses much more. It is a way to exchange ideas, make lasting friendships, compete, collect rewards, and develop valuable skills beyond the virtual realm. For many players, especially the youngest ones, participating in gaming activities can be a critical differentiator in defining group membership and serving as a source of identity, social connection, and shared experiences. At the same time, it all poses immense challenges for e-sport manufacturers, who must consider the users’ growing needs and invest a significant part of their effort in providing a new generation of players with outstanding experiences at each stage of their gaming journey.
In today’s world, great offering is not enough to attract customers and make them loyal and committed fans of a brand forever. Our reality has transferred into the momentum, where more and more people buy experiences while everything else is just an added value. This concept originated at the turn of the millennium when James H. Gilmore and B. Joseph Pine II introduced it in their groundbreaking book, “The Experience Economy.” The authors emphasise “the importance of creating memorable and impactful moments beyond traditional products and services, making companies obliged to provide engaging and unforgettable experiences driving a competitive edge”.
It has become an expanding trend, and the gaming industry is no exception. Moreover, it is one of the sectors that the changes have most heavily impacted. While witnessing an upward trajectory and constantly gaining new users, it is also particularly susceptible to their increasing demands and shifting preferences, with a solid focus on satisfaction, fun and a great sense of well-being, where positive and exceptional experiences count the most.
Therefore, captivating and delighting users, building trust, and fostering a feeling of lasting connectedness within the gaming community will necessitate a precisely re-shaped, efficiently executed and continually updated CX strategy. It should prioritise players’ experiences while considering their growing demands and evolving expectations. However, new concepts, methodologies, tools, technologies, processes and expertise are required to achieve this. Given the industry’s unique nature and the players’ progressing engagement, investing in enhancing the Customer Experience can yield significant returns.
A bright future of the gaming landscape
The gaming landscape is evolving, as the number of entertainment manufacturers has boomed substantially throughout a quarter-century. It brought in fierce competition and became a battlefield for the endorsement of increasingly larger masses of gaming enthusiasts. It is reflected in many worldwide statistics. Referring to Statista’s research, “The number of the video games market players is expected to amount to 3.10 billion, and its revenue is projected to achieve a volume of 521.60 U.S. billion dollars by 2027, with CAGR 2023 – 2027 of 7.89 per cent”. It illustrates the thriving and lucrative gaming industry, showing its vast potential as one of the most potent business segments resilient to different economic, political, or inflationary turbulences and brimming with immense opportunities for growth and success. It is, therefore, worth fighting for and pursuing with effort and determination, despite the challenges that may arise.
Studying gamers as exceptionally demanding customers: a CX perspective
With unparalleled diversity, a good gaming environment draws in enthusiasts of different ages, genders, cultural backgrounds, localisations, languages, preferences, and jurisdictions. Many individuals join the gaming communities for various reasons, as highlighted in the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) report, which reveals that “most of the surveyed players say that participating in gaming brings joy, relieves stress, builds teamwork, inspires, helps to introduce new friendships and relationships and spend time with others”.
However, while playing games, users driven by different goals share various expectations and can be considered exceptionally demanding customers for several reasons. What characterises them the most, often setting them apart from other groups of consumers, is the players’ passion and positive energy about playing, which is usually a hobby or a lifestyle and is affected by emotional investment and a deep sense of fulfilment. In many cases, gamers are not users but devotees and tech-savvy individuals, unlike regular customers purchasing items such as shoes, booking a hotel room, or acquiring office software.
Players also have distinct needs and expectations when it comes to experiences. Devoted persons appreciate constant access, seamless connectivity, on-demand assistance, buying and selling virtual items, an individual approach to customer support and communication, excitement and challenges, captivating storylines and emerging technologies offering enhanced immersion and interaction. What counts most is the opportunity to share experiences with others in broader communities, be socially connected, and feel valued among gamers. It is well reflected in Accenture’s survey: “84% of the respondents admitted that having the right group of friends is key to an enjoyable online gaming experience”.
The key guiding principle for a successful CX strategy in gaming
Considering the gaming industry’s specificity, rapid expansion, technological advancements, and evolving player anticipations, it is critical to take Customer Experience to new heights. A well-crafted and appropriately approached CX strategy, which precisely addresses and fulfils gaming enthusiasts’ expectations, can lead to enhanced player satisfaction, increased engagement, and long-term loyalty. This will translate into business success, revenue increase, and secure future growth. The key lies in improving user interactions, embracing cutting-edge technologies, and adjusting to the continuously expanding immersive digital spaces, all to foster consistent and seamless delightful engagement across various channels.
When crafting the CX strategies for gaming, two primary types play a crucial role. The first strongly emphasises the core gameplay elements and mechanics, helping to ensure that players have a seamless and enjoyable gaming experience from start to finish. It aims to free users of technical issues and adequately motivate them to play, explore, and return for more, alone and with friends. The second type is about creating a positive impression and influencing friendly feelings about the game, community, brand and company while considering each player’s preferences, feelings, needs and behaviour, consequently building trust and emotional connection. Thus, implementing both strategic types in an ideal world would result in an unparalleled player experience where efficient mechanics merge harmoniously with personalised engagement, creating an immersive and unforgettable gaming journey. This is the recommended approach for gaming companies under pressure to innovate, continuously evolve and deliver fresh, captivating experiences that resonate with their audience.
The first level of CX: gameplay-driven strategies
The strategies are the basis of the gaming initiative while providing a visually appealing environment and ensuring that the game mechanics, user interface, systems and controls are well-designed, appropriately calibrated and working smoothly without interruptions. Furthermore, they include motivational enhancements to keep users playing and exploring the game long-term, such as rewarding systems or challenges. They involve dynamic storytelling available in multiple languages or immersive world-building. Lastly, robust multiplayer functionality, multi-device playing, and cloud gaming are other essential aspects of gameplay-driven strategies, allowing users to collaborate, compete and socialise in mirrored reality.
Epic Games has launched crossplay tools to enable gaming fans from different platforms to play together and enjoy the moments collectively in multiplayer mode while offering them a unified experience, regardless of the devices and methods used. Crossplaying is a great way to expand the player database, as different platform friends come together and play the same game, which fosters engagement and attracts many new users. Epic Games has strongly advocated this method and has actively promoted crossplay implementation in various games, including popular titles such as Fortnite.
Elevating CX to the next stage: embracing player-centric strategies
Player-centric strategies prioritise users, placing them at the centre “of everything.” With that, companies can ensure that all CX processes are shaped according to the players’ expectations by collecting feedback and involving them in decision-making. These include, for instance, data management and segmentation, personalisation, omnichannel integration, constant monitoring and improvement, and many more features, additionally empowered with innovative technology and human touch on the top. Here are the primary approaches that can work:
DATA MANAGEMENT plays a crucial role in the gaming industry, as organisations collect personal data to facilitate operational processes, enable game recording, ensure relevant security measures and children protection, and efficiently manage communities or payment authorisation. Compliance with data protection regulations is essential to ensure privacy, transparency, and accountability in data processing activities, considering different countries’ legislation. Compliant practices can positively impact players, fostering solid and long-lasting relationships and trust.
PLAYER SEGMENTATION involves the identification of distinct groups of users based on various factors such as demographics, playstyles, skills or preferences. With the initiative, it is possible to precisely align the individuals to relevant segments and then direct appropriate actions that fit them best. It can cover, for instance, difficulty settings adjustment in games, monetisation targeting, customised collaboration, or the creation of vibrant and engaging gaming communities.
PERSONALISATION is the initiative that allows manufacturers to cater to the players’ needs and preferences. It requires extensive gamers’ data sets and AI-driven deep analysis to generate insights into their tastes, playing styles, behaviour, culture specificity or engagement patterns. By understanding players at a granular level, it is possible to direct tailor recommendations, in-game target content and events, preferred assistance and a highly personalised gaming experience. This approach ensures that players are consistently engaged and provided with relevant information that resonates with their preferences, increasing their overall satisfaction and retention. It is worth emphasising that personalisation is especially important for younger users to maintain their safety and enjoyment by offering age-appropriate content, implementing relevant support systems, employing parental authorisation methods, and adjusting difficulty levels accordingly.
OMNICHANNEL INTEGRATION is a strategic approach that aims to provide gamers with seamless and consistent experiences across various touchpoints. By integrating many channels on one platform and consolidating player data into a single hub, such as a multi-channel CRM solution, manufacturers can see a 360-degree view of Customer Experience. It helps them better understand users’ interactions, promote consistent and synchronised experiences that enhance player satisfaction and loyalty and foster more robust connections.
By adopting CX MONITORING AND IMPROVEMENT STRATEGIES, gaming companies can produce insights into the effectiveness of their CX initiatives, optimise customer interactions, identify areas for improvement and eliminate weak points shortly. These require establishing a robust measurement system to monitor the situation and track success with relevant KPIs on customer satisfaction, loyalty, churn, and many more. Moreover, it needs to regularly analyse collected data, identify patterns, and implement improvements based on customer feedback to address emerging needs and expectations of players better.
By integrating ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE into the gaming CX strategy, companies can enhance player support through automated chatbots providing personalised and computerised real-time responses, which helps save time and improve satisfaction. By leveraging cutting-edge technologies like AUGMENTED AND VIRTUAL REALITY and THE METAVERSE, further immersion enhancement is at hand, resulting in more realistic and captivating gameplay and making the gaming experience even more engaging and outstanding.
Roblox, a well-known online gaming platform developed by Roblox Corporation, is a pioneer of the metaverse. Its platform Roblox Metaverse is an immersive 3D virtual space that allows players to experience different games, interact with other players, create 3D objects, shop and much more. At the end of 2022, it gathered 200 million monthly active users, with around 9.5 million developers. Due to its cross-platform compatibility and extensive library of games, it is massively popular among the gaming community. It also engages reputable businesses to connect with their customers. A good example is Nike, which joined the Roblox Metaverse, presenting users with virtual and physical Nike collections and enabling them to purchase them using the platform’s native currency, i.e., Robux. What are the benefits? Amon all, it is primarily increased user engagement, additional revenue sources, increased brand awareness and enhanced market position.
Lastly, the HUMAN TOUCH still holds immense importance in gaming as it fosters a sense of value, appreciation, and understanding among players, particularly in complex situations that demand empathy and critical decision-making. While AI-driven technological solutions excel in digitisation, productivity, and speed, a live gaming support agent’s emotional intelligence and personal touch can create a profound impact.
Making the choice: in-house or outsourced CX?
In the gaming industry, it is sometimes worth considering collaboration with a renowned CX outsourcing partner that offers specialised expertise, resources and experiences that may be lacking internally, and that the manufacturer would not manage to provide. Partnering up with a BPO provider can be the right solution when a gaming company:
- Does not have enough in-house resources, technology or expertise to efficiently handle a growing number of issues.
- Wants to reduce costs while ensuring excellent user experiences.
- Plans expansion that requires multilingual and multi-cultural support, knowledge of different markets, social norms and legislative environments, and the ability to adapt to evolving industry and regulatory requirements over time.
Is the player experience everything? While not the sole factor, it is undeniably critical for engagement, satisfaction, retention, and industry influence. Investing in an enhanced gaming CX strategy offers compelling reasons to do so. However, it is necessary to tailor the undertaking to fit specific needs, target audiences, and business objectives, considering internal and external circumstances, tech trends, and available resources. The key to success is selecting relevant tools, solutions, and concepts for efficiently building the future gaming Customer Experience, aligning with desired goals.
What is worth remembering?
The gaming industry attracts many passionate players looking for fun and outstanding experiences.
For the manufacturers, this presents both challenges and opportunities.
Grabbing players’ attention is more complicated than ever and requires prioritising CX as a key strategy.
However, it is critical to take the gaming Customer Experience to new heights to meet the expectations of the new generation of players.
There are two leading types of CX strategies for gaming, such as gameplay-driven and player-centric ones.
The first focuses on gameplay elements, while the second addresses individual user needs and preferences.