Gaming skyrocketed during the pandemic as people across the world opted to entertain themselves indoors with a console, computer, or mobile device rather than venture out into public spaces. In 2020, video gamers spent about 14.8 hours each week playing games, an increase over the 12.7 hours per week spent in 2019. Estimates place 2021 gaming hours at 16.5 hours, with that number expected to remain elevated in 2022.
Recently, Unbabel hosted a roundtable discussion for customer support leaders working in the gaming industry to offer their insights into the present and future of the gamer customer experience. Explore the highlights and hypotheses about what’s in store for the increasingly popular gaming industry.
Enter the metaverse
When polled as to which industry trend roundtable guests were most interested in discussing, nearly all wanted to talk about the metaverse. This virtual world became a hot media topic after Facebook rebranded its parent company name to Meta, and Microsoft began its acquisition of video game publisher Activision in order to (as many assume) stake a position in the metaverse trend.
The metaverse may still be in its infancy, but its possibilities are seemingly endless. It is a space that offers infinite customization and immersion, where players can live a digital existence of their own making. The challenge (and there are many!) is providing customer support while inside the game.
What would support look like? How can gaming companies solve customer queries in a way that doesn’t break the immersion or remove players from the game?
Perhaps there will be customer support avatars that gamers can approach in-game to resolve their issues. (Think Amazon Prime’s Upload) Whatever assistance looks like, the logical goal for support teams will be to remain in the background, so that gamers can enjoy a seamless experience without having to break the proverbial fourth wall or return to reality.
One company, Helpshift, has already broken ground on its metaverse efforts with its new Metashift offering. The company plans to use technologies — immersive customer service and user support, feedback systems, and blockchain verification with in-world support for mobile, AR, and VR experiences — to provide assistance within the metaverse.
Make it personal
Personalization is key to the metaverse and to the gaming industry in general. Delivering great assistance involves knowing a lot about the customer so they have an enjoyable support experience. Having access to relevant contact information when gamers approach support for an issue isn't enough. Teams need a 360-degree view of a customer’s complete support history so representatives are able to place their issues into context and provide better assistance.
Customer support personalization also involves reaching gamers through the preferred communication channels. Customers frequently rely on WhatsApp, text, chat, or email, so it’s important for reps to have the relevant information they need at their fingertips while operating on these channels.
The gaming industry is a bit of a unique case in that many customers (and, thus, those reaching out for support) are young people. Providing support to minors is tricky: For instance, how do you help them purchase in-game products or skins when they initiate contact with a parent’s credit card in hand?
Even beyond payments, interpreting the language of young people can be a challenge, especially when they’re located abroad. Some video game customer support teams leverage translation technology to help reps understand the lingo their young customers use.
Is cross-platform integration a good thing?
PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo, PC computers, mobile devices — all platforms gamers use to play their favorite games. Unlike a decade ago, today’s gamers increasingly have the option to interact with their friends or other gamers, regardless of the platform they use. This is quickly becoming the norm for gaming, seamless connections where interactions are platform agnostic, creating a frictionless video gaming experience.
And while some gamers may see this as paradise, others might view it as purgatory. That’s because some using, say, a PlayStation console may not want those using PC computers crossing into their domain. Why? It’s a common occurrence in the gaming world to encounter hackers or cheaters online and these players have usually played on PCs. Therefore some gamers may not actually want to play with other gamers from different platforms if they're perceived to have the upper hand, affecting the player experience.
Cross-platform/device integration is still maturing, but the jury is still out whether this would be a net positive or negative for the gaming experience.
Customer support automation
Automation seems to touch everything these days, and it’s especially true for customer support, which has been undergoing an automation transformation for some time. At video game companies, support teams are being asked to do more with less. To accomplish this, they’ve been rolling out automated solutions to help field customer queries and enhance productivity.
Technology is efficient at content moderation and helping ensure virtual spaces are safe from lewd or hateful texts and images. Reliance on automated solutions is expected to grow, but video game companies are cautioned against going all-in on automation.
To understand why, it helps to shift our perception of customer support from being a cost center (as most decision-makers see it) to a revenue generator. And when aligned with marketing efforts, a customer support or success team can help retain current customers, and even upsell them on products/services/contract extensions.
In the gaming space, automated solutions help shave costs and increase the speed of ticket resolutions. But including humans in the process and equipping them with proper marketing messaging can help a customer support team actually increase revenue for a company.
Listen to your gamers
One of the best (and easiest) ways to create better gaming experiences is to listen to gamers. Developers are oftentimes detached from actual gaming reality, so some companies have implemented a customer connect culture. This starts by gathering feedback from gamers — either directly through surveys, collecting common support ticket issues, and even scrolling through Reddit message boards to find complaints — and sharing it with developers.
Gamers can be very vocal, especially when it’s in regards to bugs. Customer support teams that share this feedback with developers can better ensure gamer concerns are addressed. Translating the feedback from the multilingual, global community of gamers helps developers understand and remedy issues, for a more enjoyable gaming experience. And while gamers can be loud, they can also be very loyal. Promptly resolving their concerns helps in creating delightful moments so gamers keep coming back.