Can you tell us a little about Raptr? How has it impacted the game industry?
Raptr was started by gaming legend Dennis ”Thresh” Fong – who also happens to be the founder of Xfire, Lithium and Gamers.com. Raptr is the only community platform for gamers that allows gamers to earn real rewards based on the games they play and the ranks they earn on Raptr. Raptr is able to do this because we automatically track gameplay activity on console and PC. Our community is 12M strong and growing with 500K new users every month.
The social factor in games has become increasingly important. Why do you think it has such appeal?
This is an area we’ve been monitoring closely. Our data shows that about 40 percent of our core gamers also play social games, and the majority of them play multiplayer games. Social connections are the key to discoverability and having other players in your game essentially creates new game content. The actions of your friends are often more interesting than anything a game designer can come up with because they have the context of a relationship. The added benefit is developing that relationship when you play a game with another person.
Another important factor is that social games can turn your players into evangelists much more easily than single player games can. Social player games can spread virally while single player games cannot. The fact that social games can spread quickly is an incentive for developers to make games more social. For example, Draw Something became the fastest spreading viral game in history just because people wanted to share their funny drawings with their friends.
How has the social factor altered game development and marketing?
It depends on the platform - it’s different with Facebook games, mobile games, and console games. All of these kinds of games are developed with the goal of bringing social interaction to the forefront of the player’s experience.
The same can be said of marketing. It’s much more powerful to have a friend endorse a product than to see an advertisement. For me, if I see my friend is playing a social game like CastleVille and their kingdom is amazing, it feels like justification that I should make my castle amazing too. Come to think of it, this explains why my CastleVille looks the ways it does. I only have my friends to blame!
In other cases, the marketing is built into the game itself… like getting more content when you bring in a friend or by having paid DLC even after you just bought a game. With freemium games, you’re constantly marketing new content to the player. The rise in popularity with freemium games is a perfect example of the power of social.
Some predict that console and traditional gaming will be replaced. What trend do you see occurring? Do you believe that statement is correct?
There is a shift that is happening with traditional and console gaming, however I don’t see consoles disappearing any time soon. Console games may be changing to become more social and optimized for digital distribution, but consoles have also become established as part of mainstream home entertainment.
What has Raptr done to help gamer satisfaction?
The Raptr platform originally started as a way to track gameplay behavior but has since evolved into a community where your rank and reputation determine your gamer identity. What we solve really well is applying a social overlay to your gaming identity all the while making it seamless to discover new games. This is why game publishers are embracing our platform. We now offer meaningful rewards based on our user’s gameplay behavior. We have rewards exceeding $1 million in total value. The more you play, the more you rank up and the more real rewards you can earn like free games, DLC, beta codes, discounts, and more.
Also, since we track your gameplay hours and achievements, your reputation isn’t faked. You are what you game. This is a big deal for our users.
Can you explain the Raptr Reward System?
Raptr Rewards makes it easy for our users to earn compelling incentives as they rank up on our platform based on what they play and their gaming expertise. Not to mention, they get to see what their friends are playing and also their gaming expertise.
We have six different levels: Newbie, Amateur, Experienced, Dedicated, Hardcore and Elite. For instance, if you just started playing Diablo III, you’re considered a Newbie until you have a few hours and achievements under your belt. From there, you move into the rank of Amateur, and then Experienced and so on…and you’re rewarded along the way just for playing your favorite games.
Why did the company decide to initiate a reward system?
Raptr’s evolution into a thriving community platform has been building organically the past few years. We’re the only platform that tracks cross-platform behavioral data and as result, we know what gamers want. We took this knowledge of their gameplay behavior and love of gaming and created a universal reputation system where we could surface contextual rewards in meaningful ways to our users. Since the launch of Raptr Rewards, we’re seeing strong engagement and more importantly, we’re seeing the platform resonate with our users. We saw a lift of 300 percent from our users sharing about Raptr Rewards. This is validating our program.
The benefit to our partners who participate in this program is that we can help them generate significant interest in their products, not only to our users, but also to all the additional people who are reached because of social sharing. Everybody wins.
It is currently in beta. When will it be available to all users?
While Raptr Rewards is in beta, it’s already available to all Raptr users. Raptr is free so anyone can be a member. We’re using this time in beta to refine our offerings and learn more from our users on what excites them most. For example, we partnered with Microsoft to give out free games and Gold Subscriptions to our most dedicated user base. The response has been overwhelming. But we’re also seeing success with our other partners such as Logitech, EA, Trion, Riot and Perfect World. Our goal at this stage is not so much in reach as it is in quality. And we aim to make sure the offerings we have in beta surpass the expectations of our community. When that happens, we’ll move out of the beta stage.
There are many rewards. How do you decide which rewards to choose?
I know! We have a lot of cool rewards because we have a lot of fantastic partners who make amazing games and products. And they love that Raptr Rewards is an effective engagement and acquisition tool for them to use. We make it easy to offer the right incentives to the right kind of gamer at the right time of that gamer’s lifecycle.
We have to keep the rewards selection diverse and fresh as result of all the types of gamers on our platform. Not to mention our community is quite vocal so they’re more than willing to be advocates for the kinds of rewards they want! And that’s our Dino-sized secret: Give them what they really want and they’ll always come back for more.Interview With Alexandra Tinsman, Director of Marketing at Raptr,