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Don’t hate player support, change the game

In the past, we started more than one article on gaming with a quick disclaimer: I’m not a gamer. It’s not that our knowledge was ever in question, but we knew that in order to truly understand a gamer’s perspective, we’d need to walk in one’s shoes.

We’re starting this article a bit differently: Hi, my name is João, and I am a gamer. And a very passionate one at that.

I’m telling you this so that, when you read my thoughts, you take into consideration that it’s my perspective as João, the Gamer, not João, the Account Executive.

Now, as we’ve pointed out before, longevity is what every good game strives for. Becoming king of the hill is an incredible feat in itself, but staying there, that’s the endgame!

The majority of games stand the test of time by constantly putting out new content, whether that’s in the form of updates, balance changes, expansion packs or sequels. But alas, the more games are out there, the more room there is for issues, bugs, and misunderstandings.

Your gamers won’t leave you for the next best thing as soon as they come across a bug in the game, but they will if they’re faced with a poor service when problems arise.

With that said, from this gamer’s experience, here are three ways to keep your players engaged and on your side.

Small actions

Whoever said “size doesn’t matter” clearly understood how big an impact little actions can have. And, sometimes, that’s exactly what we, the players, value the most. The ability to go above and beyond for something seemingly insignificant, yet incredibly important for our overall experience.

In my long tenure as a gamer, I can clearly recall two examples that follow this philosophy.

Will draw for Riot Points (Riot Games)

It all started years ago, back when League of Legends’ player support team had less than 10 members.

There was a player who needed a few more Riot Points — in-game currency, paid for with real money — for his desired purchase. So he decided that, instead of making an extra payment for such a small quantity, he could convince Riot’s support team to give him the points in exchange for a … MS Paint drawing. It wasn’t any good, but it did the trick.

Next thing they knew, they started getting hundreds of similar requests and, what started as a joke, became a one-time unwritten rule within the community. Once it rose to popularity, Riot decided to save all drawings and opened the “RP Art Gallery,” resulting in a collection of over 300,000 deliberately awful drawings for an estimated trade of 7.5 million Riot Points.

As for my submission, I never thought it would see the light of day, but here it is for illustrative purposes:

Game Time (Blizzard Entertainment)

Blizzard Entertainment needs no introduction. They’ve made a name for themselves as one of the most successful gaming companies in the world, and rightfully so, as everything they develop seems destined for critical acclaim and, naturally, financial success.

To put things into perspective, their Warcraft franchise, which started in 1994 with the real-time strategy adaption Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, remains massively popular to this very day, thanks to what is arguably one of the best MMORPG’s of all time, 2004’s World of Warcraft.

15 years and 7 expansions later, it is still played and followed by millions of players worldwide. What makes this even more impressing is that, not only do you need to buy the game and its expansion sets, but you also need to pay a monthly subscription to become a hero of Azeroth.

Before I joined Unbabel two years ago on December 18th, I was playing the game on a daily basis following a 3-month subscription purchase back in late September. Because of all the interviews and sooner-than-expected starting date, I essentially lost all game time I had for December.

And this is where Blizzard’s awesome support agents, or Game Masters as we like to call them, come in. After explaining the situation and several activity checks, they added ten days of game time, free of charge. You might think, “Well, any company would do that.” But between you and me, would they really?


Ah, Esports. If you have a game with any sort of multiplayer component, chances are, you’ve thought about Esports. As Esports become widely accepted in mainstream culture, with record-breaking viewership and prize pools — Epic Games just had its first Fortnite World Cup, handing out a total of $30 million — it truly invites the question: “Why aren’t we part of this?”

Truth is, it might feel like a money loser. Just last year, Riot Games’ Global Esports Lead, Derrick “FearGorm” Asiedu, said in a Reddit Q&A that League of Legends, arguably the world’s biggest Esport, is not even close to breaking even. And although this is to be expected, given how much investment they’ve put towards building a worldwide phenomenon, it can still be a daunting thought for most developers to process.

It’s not a coincidence, though, that most popular Esports are based on games with a high volume of in-game micro transactions. Although it’s hard to monetarily quantify how much in-game purchases are influenced by Esports, it’s a given that they do. However, for this revenue source to be successful, you need (1) people constantly playing, (2) having fun, and (3) willing to spend their hard-earned money. And if you can achieve 1 and 2, chances are, you’ll get 3.

And that’s where Esports can give a helping hand. I started playing LoL nine years ago and, unfortunately, I don’t play a third of what I used to. College and career became my priorities, and my competitive nature made me focus on getting a higher rank rather than having fun. That mentality meant I’d get frustrated fairly easily — it is a team game after all — which led me to quit playing multiple times. And you know what made me come back, time and time again? Esports!

Every time I watched a major tournament, whether it was Worlds, MSI or LEC/LCS Playoffs, the urge to play came rushing straight back. And because I hadn’t played in a while, the game felt as fresh and exciting as it did the first time I played it.

They got 1 and 2, so I gave them 3! As for how much money I spent throughout all these years, well, at this point I’m too afraid to ask.

Player support

Of course, if you invest so much money in something, you expect it not to disappoint, especially when things go south. Gamers need to feel engaged both by the game and the company that created it, and cared for when they come across a bug, a glitch or any other problem that impacts the gaming experience. Because when we talk about gaming, we talk about exactly that — an experience — and not just any other product like a lamp or a printer.

Here are some of the best practices I’ve come across during my many years as a gamer.

Game knowledge

There are a lot of things you should look for when hiring customer service agents — problem-solving skills, being able to empathize with players, being quick on their feet — but the most important trait you should consider is expertise.

No one understands gamers better than other gamers, so your support team should be made up of people who also play, or at the very least understand, the game.

In-game player support

The last thing you want is for us to stop playing your game, that’s a given. And trust me when I tell you, nothing breaks an immersive experience quite like having to reach out for help. In-game player support tools are a great option to have for small issues, as are self-service options such as Help Centers, FAQ’s and Community Forums.

Fast response and resolution time

Piggybacking on my previous tip, if the problem is more serious and requires developer intervention, we expect it to be resolved as soon as possible, so we can get back to having fun. Also, bear in mind that fast response times are important to making us feel acknowledged, but resolution is just as crucial, if not more, towards our satisfaction.

And don’t forget: we’re everywhere, so make sure you provide 24/7 support across the globe.

Multilingual support

Last but not least, not only should your agents be available at all times, they also need to cover whatever language we speak. Being able to communicate in our native language, especially when trying to solve an issue in-game, helps build a connection and simplifies the communication process.

Now, I know that hiring agents for that many languages is crazy expensive at best, and virtually impossible at worst. Thankfully, that’s where we, Unbabel, come in.

Meet me at Gamescom

Unbabel’s multilingual customer service solution solves the language part, allowing you to remove it as a factor when hiring the most knowledgeable agents out there.

If you’d like to learn more about how we’re already helping major companies such as King, Rovio, or Wargaming step up their support game, I’ll be more than happy to discuss it at this year’s Gamescom — preferably, outside the timeslots I’ve assigned towards “geeking out.”

We’ll be in the business area, booth E-040, hall 2.1, so feel free to swing by or reach out to me directly on LinkedIn.

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