Earth2 should fix this issue first.
*Author's Note - (I intentionally wrote this part in a "soft" way because I know the Earth2 Team is following E2.News and yeah, don't want to get the "Elsa". [Frozen account or something]*
*Editor's Note - the opinions reflected in this article are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the views of E2.News or their staff*
The real Hype Killer is still hidden, asleep, and ready to start eating Earth2 from the inside
In the three months since I joined Earth2, beside the purchasing, planning, and refreshing my profile page 2 7182 times every day looking for instant gratification, I was also paying special attention to the way they manage communication with players (their customers) on various issues. The E2 team has experienced some massive success and given their growth some of their struggles are understandable. Despite winning some battles, the war is still ongoing. Before any other progress is made in game development, a real solution to an enormous problem must be found.
And it's not something they need to look for or figure out; they only need to start fixing it. Nothing new in the business of "Community Management" or "Customer Care Service", all companies deal with this, and, even more, they deal with this FIRST.
The "As is" of Earth2 Community Management
In general, without going in too much detail, Earth2 is playing a very dangerous game when it comes to communicating with their users. I would say no communication is currently going on, and their lack of focus on this aspect could have serious consequences in the near future when they will need proper, structured, professional, and mature Customer Care Service.
Specifically, in the coming months they will need a disruption in terms of setting the correct expectations, especially because they will roll out new Phase two features (Essence and EPLs) and the secrecy around how things work in the game might not be enough to generate the proper hype to move forward as it all started (which to be honest was absolutely amazing). On the contrary, secrecy and intentional discretion about their roadmap, functionalities, price movement, property intrinsic value, resources marketplace, game dynamics beyond accumulating resources, and trading it might draw down things rather than hyping it.
Just my two cents, but I strongly believe that starting to really do the Community Management & Communication at the level of where they got as a business in the last three months could only do great things.
Now, the truth about what we see from the outside
Thomas Marcon - Thomas should, probably, be the highest paid employee of Earth2. He is the only one riding the Discord Beast with a small army of MODs trained to keep conversations civil, warn, mute and ban the savages, but it's a growing community and few unpaid volunteers can only do so much.
Thomas also takes direct messages like he has no personal life and (at least with me) he's always calm, polite and with discrete correct answers to whatever people bring in that chat. You can imagine that this could be a little bit different in the chats with the savages, but I doubt he drops his professionalism in any scenario.
The Developers - Lead by Shane himself, developers often jump in the main chat of their official Discord server and randomly pick topics, questions and address it. Sometimes, when they are online, the 20.000 member community looks like a mIRC server where the prettiest girl on the Internet just joined. Adrenaline, ghost questions from the past (When Dubai?, How does price work?, Is this a scam?, Ponzi?, etc.), random harassment, mentions on DMs and so on.
The "Announcements" - Even though the player base is known to be ~300k players, some kind of official communication is happening in a Discord channel on the Official Earth2 Server. When Shane is seen typing in that channel euphoria strikes again, chat goes frenzy, people lose their minds. Yes, exciting, I know.
The Twitter - Newest communication channel addition to the extremely successful startup is Shane's Twitter account where he unofficially tweets stuff he feels like sharing with the public audience (limited though..)
The "To be" of Earth2 Community Management & Communication
There are three main communication streams that must be flawless when it comes to a business like Earth2, and, more specifically, when it comes to a such a successful startup managing users' money:
1. Roadmap communication
Setting expectations is important, especially when you have a product not fully developed that got huge traction in very short timeframe since you released the MVP. The interest in the product generates revenue, but it also requires a fair projection of what will the assets bought with the money will become/transform/be useful to. It is a game, we understand it, but no game mechanics are yet in place, so your "words" around it should be very well chosen, consistent and generate predictability for everyone with stake in the game.
Clear details on future plans must be set in place and clearly communicated using channels that reach all users (official website, blog, email).
Also, as important of future plans is the present state of the mechanics. Price, border behavior, property transfer with low bids, credit transfer with high bids etc. should be explicitly stated on the official communicating channels that reach all users.
2. Transactional messages
Whenever a confirmation is needed for the stupid me who did something in the game, I need that email to make me feel comfortable with what I just did and clear all doubt. The emails should be clear, confirming my actions and setting the correct expectations on what could happen in the future based on what I just did.
- When I bid on property or when I receive a bid on one of my properties I should receive a confirmation that contains all details of the bid
- When I send an email to any official email address of the company I should immediately receive a response (you don't need Zendesk or any other ticketing platform for this). If nothing gets back, the inept me will just send again spamming your inbox.
- When I discuss something in private chat with an official member of the team, sometimes an email with the important stuff we just discussed should be sent as follow-up
- When the Terms and Conditions change, I need that email. I can't refresh the official website just to make sure I don't miss the next TOS change
- When I do something wrong on the website a proper message should be displayed. Better: when I'm about to do anything on the website I should understand where I am and what I'm about to do before doing something stupid. Remember: real money is at stake.
3. Marketing & Communication
This can be a full article (if not a full blog that can take years to write). The Product is amazing. Interest generated inertia and secured a great user base and some tens of millions in less than a quarter. But this was the easy part.
The hard part is in the strategy and the tactics that will be implemented to grow. Being a social game, the more onboard, the better for both Earth2 and the players. The inertia should be used to have a good reach, the strategy should be build around the Vision and tactics should be planned, implemented and managed to continuously produce both revenue (for the company) and engagement (for the players). And Earth2 has no easy task.
The agency they will work with will have a tough job to deliver because of two reasons:
- Game's current state where the price to join can be perceived as prohibitive and position the whole thing as "expensive platform to join with no game to play" (and this is why the first point should be fixed ASAP).
Marketing & communication should be agnostic of the technical limitations / challenges. Servers situation in December / January could have been a great opportunity to do a marketing stunt on acquiring MORE users.
Campaigns should be properly communicated on top of countdowns and countdowns for the countdowns.
Dubai announcement after the user base announcement we need some proper information on how the price will be updated, what are the risks for players if the interest is huge (example: 6% or 20.000 users try to buy in the same time) when it comes to price inflation between tile selection and purchasing. We have an exponential function used for price calculation and things could not go well.
Easter Egg Hunt was announced.
BOTH campaigns must have proper Advertising planned to reach the whole world. Doing too much for the existing players can create a larger gap between new players' understanding (considering the lack of information about how stuff works) and what is communicated using small formats.
Earth2.io is on the path to become a great game, but until they truly address the Hype Killer that is their current Customer Service stance, it'll never become the greatest game. It can be fixed though. It's not too late.
Leave your thoughts in the comments and if you liked this and you're a millionaire, just..