A-steroids (pronounced ‘a-dash-steroids’) is a Lithuanian game development studio founded in 2008. Based in Russia, they also have multiple offices around Europe. They are best known for popular games such as Clash of the Damned and Underworld: Drug Lords.
A-Steroids’ Creative Director Ilya Eremeyev connected with the teamf2psupport team to share about their game support and community management practices: how they measure support success, how they placate angry players, and what their support team would never say to a player.
Describe the game support team over at A-Steroids.
We only have 2-3 people, it depends on the projects. There’s one dedicated community manager, and two tech support managers.
Community managers should be positive, polite, and stress-proof. Also, fun! These people have to become friends with the community, not just provide tech support. You have to be a fun person to work with us!
What are the channels you use to support your players?
We use email, public posts and messages on Facebook; we also speak to players using two kinds of chat: internal in-app chat and chat on Facebook. We use a corporate account on all these channels, because of issues that arise when you use personal accounts, like when community managers change.
What’s the hardest situation you’ve had to handle, support-wise? How did you handle this situation?
There was a time some players discovered and exploit in a game and used it. The cheaters distressed the players, so we needed to calm them down, assured that it was in our control.
We asked the players who exploited the game to cooperate with us. Cheaters accounts are blocked automatically and we offered them amnesty and compensation if they collaborated with us.
Managing a community is often a tiring and time-consuming job. Have you ever experienced trying to balance game development and community management at the same time?
Yes, before I personally managed community. [It] was really time-consuming, so we hired a community manager and delegated everything to her. There was more resources to spend, and she could keep her eye on the community.
You’ve said that empathy is important in getting to the core of a ‘toxic’ user’s anger. How do you train your game support team to practice empathy?
Maybe instructions and visions can help, but I don’t think we can teach somebody to be empathetic, some have it, some do not.
How do you find candidates who have empathy?
We have to speak to candidate, spend some time with them. I do not believe finding those with empathy is as easy as doing interviews or small talk.
What sort of tone do your support replies/emails have (Ex: formal, informal)?
Semi-formal, like speaking with friends. Not too ‘enterprised’. Apple does this really well. Polite, but with life. We’re not trying to be superiors, so we should speak more like friends and partners.
What metrics do you use (ex: average handling time of tickets) to determine if your support process works well?
Zendesk helps us with metrics. Our main metric is ART (Average Response Time), which is usually couple of hours. If you let them wait for days players will think you don’t care, and that damages reputation.
Feedback is also an important metric. We listen to natural feedback from support, people who write us with thanks.
What’s a line that your game support never tells your players?
We can not help you.
So what happens when you get a problem you can’t solve?
I can not imagine such problem, so let’s pick a most critical problem: a player lost his character. We can give him a new character and compensation. Or one problem we can not fix: if a player has hardware problems. We will encourage them to come back later and offer some freebies when they do.
How does the support team over at A-Steroids destress?
We throw a lot of parties and gatherings! We also have a soccer team, hiking, and beach trips. Food and drinks always help people relax. Myself, I love travelling. I’m a person who can work and travel at the same time, I’m actually working from Thailand right now.
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