Player support burst capacity for your game launch

Almost every business goes through time periods where the support request volume is much greater than usual. This can include holiday seasons, new product or service launches, or any big changes in the business model.

Game studios are no different—there are times where your player support needs increase significantly. Burst capacity refers to your readiness to handle these periods and make sure your playersare properly supported the entire time.

There are several occasions when you may need burst capacity as a game studio, including:

  • New game launches
  • DLC (downloadable content) launches
  • Major bug fixes and patch releases
  • Holiday promotions and special deals
  • Game expansions
  • Tournaments or other large-scale gaming events

In this post, we’re going to discuss the benefits of having proper burst capacity, and how to make sure you’re always prepared for the next big effort. 

The benefits of burst capacity

There are many benefits to being prepared for any burst periods.

First of all, by properly preparing your support team and giving them the resources they need, you’ll greatly reduce the risk of burnout. Knowing that extra help is coming and that they won’t have to take it all on alone will make your associates not only less scared of burst periods, but actually excited about big events or releases.

Burst capacity also means that you will be able to provide speedy and excellent support even when the volume increases dramatically. Nobody will be left hanging just because you don’t have the resources to help them. Getting great support even during a very busy time increases player loyalty and reduces overall churn.

You’ll also be able to protect your reputation. There’s a good chance that your players will be very vocal about a terrible support experience during a critical time, and that negative opinion can spread like wildfire, especially among gamers.

Further, your support associates will have the capacity to properly document all requests and feedback, which is very important for future planning, analysis, and prioritization.

How do you build burst capacity?

There are a few options for building your burst capacity. Which you pick depends on your budget, existing staff, and how dramatic you expect your burst periods to be, so consider those factors when you choose whichever solution that works best for you.

Firstly, you can consider pulling from other teams within your company. If there are people who have the skills, knowledge, and willingness to help (and you don’t expect the extra support volume to be sky high), include them in the process. Even if they’re not trained in support, they can help with simple FAQs or even with triaging requests to take some of the workload off your main support associates. 

However, keep in mind that you will have to provide them with the basic information and resources to actually be able to be useful. If you just throw them into the deep end (even if they’re okay with it), they’ll most likely just get overwhelmed and create more confusion and delays than there would have been otherwise. 

As an alternative option, if you predict repeated surges in support requests that you suspect can not be handled by your in-house team only, you can also build a bench of temporary hires. These are experienced people you can pull in on a relatively short notice when you need to cover any gaps in your support team during peak support periods. 

If building a temporary team or covering a burst period is something you’re unfamiliar with or don’t have the time for yourself, you can always work with a BPO to let them handle staffing (and anything else you need help with) completely. 

A good BPO will have the right people with the right experience and equipment to make sure your players are fully supported during busy times without any added stress to you or your team. 

After the burst is over

What should you do when the critical period is all done? 

First of all, if you did have people from other departments helping out, you should send them back to their respective posts (and say thank you). It’s also good to have a discussion with the whole team about what went right, what went wrong, what you learned, and how you all think you can do better for future bursts. 

A simple way to accomplish this is to create a shared Start/Stop/Continue document with headers for what you wished you’d done, but didn’t (start), what you would not do or do differently next time (stop), and what you thought worked really well (continue). Have everyone who participated in the burst coverage add their thoughts to the doc, then get together as a group to discuss and decide what changes to make for the next support surge. 

You should also work on always making sure to have a predefined launch cycle so you can make sure you have plenty of time and resources to ramp up for the next burst. The more warning you have about anticipated volume increases, the better prepared you can be.

If you felt like your last burst period was too hard to handle on your own, let us know! We offer a variety of services for game companies with the flexibility to ramp up and down quickly to support game launches, DLC drops, tournaments, and other events.

Mercer Smith