Kongregate Launch 101
Kongregate has a number of unique advantages, and quirks, compared to other portals and social networks. As you get ready to launch your game with us, it is helpful to understand more about the community, the ratings system, exposure opportunities, and general best practices for managing a game over the long run. This guide is meant to provide a crash course in the Kongregate platform and culture and to help give your game the best chance of success possible.
While exposure is always great, as part of GameStop, a publically traded company, Kongregate must ensure all press is accurate and that any release does not conflict with mandated quiet periods for earnings announcements. Thus, you may not issue a press release without our approval. Kongregate is supportive of PR for your game and we will generally approve releases. In many cases we can also work with you to maximize the effectiveness of the message, including providing site information and in some cases quotes, and assist with distribution strategy. This policy ensures that your PR does not conflict with the PR of Kongregate or other the PR of other games on Kongregate which would hurt distribution and traffic. Please contact your game producer or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to initiate any press.
Closed Beta with Kong Plus Members
The Kong Plus program is a paid subscription service that provides a number of on-site benefits to subscribers including ad-free gaming, ability to create private chat rooms, and access to pre-release beta games. It is also gifted to all of our volunteer moderators and many of our biggest spenders are subscribers, so this group is comprised of some of the most energetic, enthusiastic, and high-value Kongregate players.
As a service both to Kong Plus members and to a select few of our new social and virtual goods games, we provide an opportunity to enter a closed beta prior to launch of the game. The Kong Plus players enjoy the early access and are helpful at giving feedback and testing for the game before it goes fully live. If you would like to apply to take part in this program, let us know.
Beta access games for Kong Plus members
Soft Launches, Spotlight Ads, and Hot New Games
After a number of experiments with various launch strategies, we've found that the safest and most effective strategy is to go with a softer launch accompanied by our complimentary spotlight ads (see the bottom of our submission checklist for details) for the game. This will help build a community within the game who understand and advocate for it, so that hopefully when the game gets bigger promotion on the front page the existing community will help the new players with questions they have about the game.
Spotlight ads, run on the home page and game pages
Once the game has launched and gotten some players into it, we'll look to put it on the front page in our Hot New Games section. This location will typically generate 20k - 50k clicks over a few days and will bump concurrent users (CCUs) to 100 - 500+, depending on the appeal of the game and length of the game sessions. We will check with you before putting it on the front page to make sure your servers are ready for the influx of players.
Hot New Games promo slot on the front page
Chat and Forums
All multiplayer virtual goods games will receive dedicated chat and a forum. These are great ways both for your players to interact with one another and for you to engage your players directly.
Chat rooms on Kongregate fall into two main categories: general/room chat and game chat. The general chat rooms are not specific to any games and everyone gets put into one of these rooms either randomly or based on where they were last time they logged in. Game rooms are specific to multiplayer games, so everyone in a game room is playing the same game. These game rooms tend to be quite active, with players discussing strategies, sharing resources, providing help, or trash talking their opponents. The rooms max out at 200 players and will automatically create additional rooms as needed. Moderation in chat rooms is conducted by volunteer moderators who have been selected and trained to help defuse situations and, if absolutely necessary, remove trouble makers. Game developers will not need to worry about moderating chat rooms, but we highly encourage talking with your players - they love hearing from the devs and finding out what kind of cool stuff is coming up.
Cloudstone chatroom with players discussing game progress
The dedicated forum for the game serves a dual purpose of giving players the ability to have extended conversations, write up FAQs, recruit for guilds, etc. It's also a good place to report on updates in the game, and some developers start a "Bug Report" thread to encourage people to report issues in the game. The main developer account for the game will automatically be a forum moderator, enabling you to sticky and lock threads as needed, and in extreme cases remove and edit offending posts. If you have additional employees who you would like to set up as forum moderators, let us know.
Backyard Monsters forum snapshot view visible below the game
As true on Kongregate as any other online destination, managing your community is essential to keeping a lively and enthusiastic environment around your game. Keeping your players satisfied and engaged through talking in chat rooms, posting in forums, responding to comments, and posting news updates all go a long way to showing the players that the game is growing and that you as the developer are active and attentive. As part of the on-boarding process, we will introduce you to our Community Management team, who will be happy to help you understand Kongregate's culture and how keep your players happy and informed.
There are a few main channels for player engagement. One is the aforementioned forum, where you can get wide exposure and address concerns from players. Additionally, there is a "News" section below the game that you can update with the game's developer account. The five most recent news updates will be visible at all times on the game page. Finally, we recommend looking over comments left on the game (the comments are found in a second tab next to the forum post list at the bottom of your game page) and responding to those that are articulate, popular, and/or have constructive criticism. The developer account can leave official replies to all comments, which is especially great if you have addressed a common problem.
Comments left on Big Head Bash, with developer replies
Ratings, Recommendations, and User Acquisition
Perhaps more so than on some other sites, a game's rating is rather important to your exposure and the likelihood of players clicking on the game to try it out. Once a game gets a 3.50, it'll appear in our highly rated games list and get some exposure if it happens close to the launch time. At a 3.75 is when we'll consider putting it on the front page, though we recommend getting higher if possible. Above a 4.00 is very strong, with 4.20 identifying truly standout entries.
Game discovery on Kongregate is quite different from Facebook. Rather than having to buy users through expensive ad campaigns, Kongregate players are here to find and play cool new games, and Kongregate is an effective game discovery system. In addition to placements on the front page for Hot New Games and top games in various genres, a "Recommended Games" section is shown to users. The algorithm for these is from the co-winners of the Netflix recommendation competition, and it effectively shows games to players that they are likely to enjoy. As such, on Kongregate you can focus on making a great, fun game, and we'll take care of helping the game get exposure.
General Features & Tidbits
There are a few other points and features that are worth mentioning so that you're familiar with how they work on the site. First off, here's a breakdown of our homepage with some of the major sections highlighted. You'll see the above-the-fold Hot New Games exposure, the Beta Games list (visible only to Kong Plus members), and the Featured Games section where re-engagement promotions and new badge announcements are placed.
- Badges / Achievements (they're used fairly interchangeably on the site) are Kongregate-created challenges for players to attempt to obtain in games. These are fairly rare as they are only put on highly-rated games at a maximum of 4 on any particular game. Virtual goods games are in high competition with all of the other games on the site for achievements, but if you can qualify for achievements the resulting front page promotion and incentive of collecting the badges will bring lots of new and highly-engaged players into your game.
- Kongregate is highly social, with active chatrooms, opinionated game comments, and a lively forum ecosystem. Kongregate also has a concept of "friends" and players with lots of friends tend to be very engaged and active on the site. Friends on Kongregate are more analogous to "following" - it's a one-directional relationship that does not require confirmation. If I start following someone, they are considered my "friend", and I am their "fan". Games absolutely can make use of friend relationships for social elements, but it's important to remember that it's not the same as a typical social network and dynamics of invites and friend sharing are different. Please email us if you'd like to discuss friends and social elements on Kongregate.
- In addition to posting in forums, players have the ability to submit bug reports through Kongregate's reporting tool. When this happens, if you have opted in to receive bug reports for this game (it's one of the options when you upload or update a game), an email will be sent to the email address associated with the developer account for the game. In some cases you will not receive a reply-to address for these reports - those are cases where players opted out of allowing you to contact them back.
New badges promotion on front page
If you have any additional questions about Kongregate, monetization strategies, community management, etc., please don't hesitate to contact us. We are friendly and accessible and happy to help where we can. :-)next next