Key takeaways from building a blockchain game: community is key
Chain Clash is a new, free-to-play, mobile-first collectible and battle game, powered by blockchain. In case you’re new to Chain Clash, start with this introductory post, to learn about the game.
Last week we’ve started this series of posts, where we want to share some of the key takeaways and learnings from our journey of building a blockchain game. After last week’s post about decentralization in gaming, and how we approach this topic, we’ll dive into another crucial topic in this post: building and involving a community.
Despite new games popping up left and right, blockchain gaming is still in its infancy. This inevitably means that there’s not a lot of experience and proven concepts to draw from when spinning out and developing new projects. And yes, blockchain games don’t necessarily have to be fundamentally different from traditional games. A majority of proven game concepts and game mechanics can be adapted to blockchain. However, if the goal is to make games and gaming ecosystems better by using blockchain, we’ll have to do things differently, right? And that’s exactly where it gets tricky because first, we’ll have to learn how exactly blockchain can achieve that in practice.
Due to the lack of maturity and experience of the industry, designing and developing a new blockchain game actually bears a lot of uncertainty for the developer. That’s why it’s important to find ways to validate game concepts and related mechanics as early as possible in the development process.
Blockchain gamers are different
The traditional gaming world, over the last years, has already sparked the trend of involving the community — the future player base — earlier in the development process. Multiple beta tests, including closed ones, are nothing special anymore. However, often the beta versions of a game are actually pretty close to a polished final version because game developers don’t want to risk losing players. In traditional games, where “beta testers” are used to polished games, and play for entertainment more than for testing, that can be a valid concern.
In blockchain gaming, that’s different. In our experience, the blockchain gaming community consists of people who are highly engaged and interested in the topic in general. They’re aware of the infancy of the space and are not only playing for entertainment purposes but because of other motivations. They believe in the vision and are in for the long-run, which is why they’re great testers. Their experience with early versions of games and willingness to give new games and concepts a try make them perfect candidates to involve in early beta tests.
Community is key
There are two major reasons why a community is crucial even before the launch of a game. On one side, obviously, it’s great to build a base of interested players that’ll jump right into your game at launch. However, coming back to why blockchain gamers are special, a healthy pre-launch community can help tremendously in evaluating your development efforts and ultimately release an appealing game.
Looking at the kinds of game mechanics that blockchain enables, it becomes even more apparent why early testing with external, unbiased testers is so important. The involvement of blockchain in games almost always implies the intention to create or incorporate assets of real value and establish economies around them. Such economies can be designed at the drawing board. however, due to their complexity, they have to be tested under real-world conditions to live up to the players’ expectations when it comes to balancing and sustainability.
For Chain Clash, our community has become an essential part of our development process. We’ve started to experiment with community building early but quickly increased the efforts and importance after seeing the first results. Here are some of the takeaways we’ve made along the way:
- Start early but have something to show. Generally, the earlier you start, the better. However, you’ll need to be able to show interesting content. Showing always works better than explaining.
- Quality over quantity. You’ll want to find the “right” community for your game. If you have thousands of people following you, but none of them are actually interested, you won’t gain anything from it. Find out where your future players are active, and engage with them there.
- Provide the suiting platform. Engaging with a community can happen in many ways, and chatting is only one of them. If you’re planning to do community events, contests, regularly share game content, do AMAs, and whatever else comes to your mind, you need a platform that allows you to do it in a structured way. We’ve decided to use Discord. Although Telegram is more popular in the crypto space, for the ways we’re interacting with our community, Discord is the best fit.
- Engage people beyond your game. Yes, you want them to join to learn and talk about the game, but fostering an engaged community is hard. Make it easy for people to talk about the topics they like, and inevitably your community will get more active.
- Ask for feedback and opinions, and then act on it. Don’t tell people to give feedback just to engage with them. Act on the input you get, in a way that the users see and feel. It’s essential to have your own vision and strategy in mind at all times and weigh community suggestions against it. There will be great feedback and suggestions, so better be prepared to listen to them every so often.
- Make it fun! That one’s self-explanatory, right? People will join and stay as long as it’s fun for them. Before having a live game, it can be tricky to keep the conversations going. Do challenges, use game bots, post funny team pictures or do meme contests. There are a lot of ways to make your community a fun experience, you’ll just have to find out what works best.
Although there’s no magical recipe that always works for creating the biggest and best communities (at least we don’t know it), one ingredient will be the same for every game developer: award enough importance to it. We’ll continue to do so now and beyond the launch of the game.
At Chain Clash, we’re still at the beginning of our journey to build a community. We’re making new discoveries every day and are glad that our community helps us with it. If you want to become a part of it, feel free to join our Discord and help us bring Chain Clash to life. We’re currently in private beta and are releasing and testing new features every week. If you want to shape the future of our game, now is the time!
For more of our takeaways and learnings from building a blockchain game, stay tuned on our blog. We’ll dive into more of our learnings along our journey and would be happy to get your feedback, thoughts and own learnings in the comments below!