What the biggest gaming hit of 2024 can teach you about the power of communities

Insight

Entering the world of gaming can be very worthwhile for your brand. If you want to build a strong and meaningful relationship with your target audience, this is the place to be. Gamers will reward you if you take them seriously and prove that you understand their needs and values. But if you don’t, they will let you know. The gaming community can make or break you. And sometimes they do both. Just take a look at Helldivers 2.

With 12 million units sold in 12 weeks, Helldivers 2 is PlayStation’s fastest-selling game ever. Outperforming games like God of War, The Last of Us, and Gran Turismo. Which is quite remarkable since Helldivers 2 isn't a big triple-A title. It’s a game made by a relatively small developer. How did this game that pretty much came out of nowhere become such a success?

Let’s go spread some democracy!

Before we get into that, let’s take a quick look at the game itself. Helldivers 2 is a third person shooter in which players take on the role of the titular Helldiver: an elite frontline soldier that conquers planets. Or as it’s called in the game: ‘spread democracy’. Your goal is essentially to wipe out hordes of aliens and robots.

This approach is far from unique. So why is it such a success? Because it got things right. The gameplay is solid, it looks good and it’s full of satire. If you like the Starship Troopers movie, then you will love Helldivers 2. But the main driver of its success is the cooperative nature of the game. And not just on the battlefield.

Helldivers 2 is more than just a game

Everything in Helldivers 2 is focused on conquering the universe together. As a gamer you get the feeling that you are truly part of a massive army of players. You all stand together. This sense of camaraderie has made Helldiver 2 so much more than a game. It’s an online phenomenon. It’s something bigger and gamers love it. They embraced it, and made it huge. Resulting in millions of downloads and raving reviews.

Give the people what they want, and they will reward you. Helldivers 2 shows you exactly that. However, this game is also a great example of how quickly things can turn around when you make the wrong decision. Earlier this month, PC players learned they'd need a PlayStation Network (PSN) account linked to their Helldivers 2 account to play. They definitely weren't happy about that.

Don’t mess with the gaming community

This change was met with extreme backlash from fans who viewed it as an excessive barrier, but more importantly, they felt deceived by the developers. Not only was it an unnecessary inconvenience to link a PSN account, but the main problem was that many countries do not have access to the PlayStation servers, resulting in the game no longer being available in around 180 countries.

This is when the community decided to step up. The announcement sparked widespread criticism and review bombs on gaming platforms like Steam, where players voiced their dissatisfaction with the mandatory PSN account requirement, resulting in over 200,000 negative reviews in a matter of days. Furthermore, the backlash highlighted a lack of transparency and communication from the developer regarding this change, further fueling the community's frustration.

Own up to your mistake and make things right

Helldivers 2 got hit hard, but if you look up the game on Steam now, you’ll find that the number of positive reviews is picking up again. Why? Because Helldivers 2 developer Arrowhead and Sony listened to their audience. They reverted the changes to satisfy the community. Players respond by flooding the game with positive reviews, showcasing their appreciation for the responsiveness and commitment to listening to their audience.

Arrowhead understands their audience, and to drive this point home, they jumped on a fun idea that popped up in the Helldivers 2 community. To “commemorate” this debacle, they created an in-game cape which shows the negative review spike on Steam. A great way to not only admit their mistake, but embrace it and use it to tighten their bond with the community.

The special in-game cape.

Know your audience

The Helldivers 2 debacle holds several valuable lessons for brands. The main one is that success starts with knowing your audience. You need to understand and value their desires. Especially when it comes to the gaming community. If you get it right, they will become so much more than just a user of your product. They’ll become fans and promoters. Ambassadors who will push your brand further.

The second important lesson is that this relationship is a two way street. If you get things wrong or neglect the needs of gamers, they can use their influence against you. They can make or break you. Therefore, it is essential that you know how things work in the gamingworld. You need a specialist who can guide you and help you build a meaningful relationship. So get in touch with us and we will show you how.

Are you thinking of entering the world of gaming with your brand? And do you want to stay up to date on the latest trends and developments? Then make sure you follow us on LinkedIn!

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