Hyper Hippo: https://hyperhippo.com/
About Hyper Hippo Entertainment:
Hyper Hippo is an award-winning mobile game studio creating short-form digital experiences that entertain global audiences and leave a positive impact on the world. They are the creators of the popular game, AdVenture Capitalist, which has received multiple awards including a Google Play Editor’s Choice Award and Best Instant Game of the Year on Facebook. Along with AdVenture Communist and AdVenture Ages, Hyper Hippo’s titles have been installed over 80 million times globally. Hyper Hippo is committed to creating entertainment that resonates with audiences around the world, and currently supports 11+ languages in 170+ countries across their live games. Hyper Hippo is a proud recipient of the GamesIndustry.biz Best Places to Work award in 2021 and 2022. For more info, please visit Home – Hyper Hippo Games or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Focusing on Player Engagement
In the dynamic realm of mobile gaming, the key to standing out amidst the competition is a well-segmented and personalized customer service strategy. This approach not only prioritizes and addresses support requests efficiently but also enhances the overall player experience. By understanding and catering to individual player needs, gaming studios can foster deeper engagement, boosting in-game purchases and player loyalty. Segmentation goes beyond merely addressing issues; it’s about crafting a unique journey for each player, ensuring their gaming experience feels valued and personalized. Such strategies, underpinned by statistical evidence, play a pivotal role in player retention and satisfaction, positioning the gaming studio for lasting success in a fiercely competitive market.
00:00 Intro Welcome to the Player Engage podcast where we dive into the biggest challenges, technologies, trends, and best practices for creating unforgettable player experiences. Player Engage is brought to you as a collaboration between Keyword Studios and HelpShift. Here is your host,
00:15 Greg Posner Greg Posner. Hey everybody. Welcome to the podcast. Today we’re joined by Aislinn McDivitt, the Global Engagement Specialist at HyperHippo. Aislinn, I’m very excited to have you here. I usually do a different type of intro, but I want to try something new with you and I didn’t quite warn you about this today. So first off, hi. Anything you want to say to introduce yourself? Hi, thanks for having me. I’m really excited to be here. I am excited too because just a high level thing about Aislinn is that she is a media and cultural studies degree at Okanagan. I studied that word and I practiced it and I think I nailed it. Aislinn will be there, but I want to understand how people have gotten into gaming and I think it’s a very important thing. We take a look at your history and we see that your media and cultural studies degree, which is great, and today you’re in gaming. So I want to kind of work this off as first. What exactly does a Global Engagement Specialist do?
01:12 Aislinn McDivitt Oh, great question. So I started off at HyperHippo in the Player Experience department and I’m now in a bit of a hybrid role between Player Experience and our New Global Markets department. So both of those departments, the name says it all, Player Experience department focuses on our players, that encompasses player support, community management, dealing with any questions and community events, and the New Global Markets department focuses on not just New Global Markets, but also non-English speaking markets that we’re currently based in. So our game was developed by primarily English speakers. We are based in Canada. We do have quite a few French speakers as well, but while we’re creating the game and creating these experiences for our players, we’re coming at it with an English speaking lens and specifically a North American lens. So the NGM department really focuses on our players outside of North America, what their needs are, and how we can best support them. So right now I’m focusing on what we need to do to help our non-English speaking players and our non-North American players to make their experience just as good as any
02:37 Greg Posner others. Interesting. So just kind of wrap that up, right? It’s still very much Player Experience. You’re just now taking a look at that and how do you expand that, have that same experience, whether someone’s from Germany or from Korea or from Singapore compared to how the people in the United States or Canada might be experiencing it. Yeah, exactly. That’s very cool. I think the Player Experience is one of the most things that excite me. And Aislinn and I spoke a couple weeks ago about our favorite games, right, and games that she’s interested in. And I think when you start at a young age, you want to be immersed in this gaming experience. And I think when someone can come in and say, hey, I want to help make this the same experience, no matter where they live, whether they are, it’s the same experience for everyone. I think that’s noble. So with that being said, right, I’m assuming you didn’t grow up dreaming to be a Player Engagement Specialist. So what did you want to be when you grew up? And how did you make this journey from what you wanted
03:42 Aislinn McDivitt to be to a global, to a writing and studies major to where you are? So I, my entire life, wanted to be a teacher. That was my dream. My mom is a teacher, my grandma is a teacher. They both retired now, but they both were teachers. And that’s what I wanted to do from as long as I can remember, up until about grade 11. And I’m based in British Columbia, Canada. And at the time when I was starting to look into post-secondary education and really focus in on what my future would be, it really wasn’t a great time to be a teacher in BC. There were constant strikes. What else was happening at the time? There was lots of strikes. The pay really wasn’t great compared to teaching in other parts of Canada. And I just wasn’t sure if that was exactly what I wanted to do. So, or if that would be the best. And let me rephrase that actually. I just wasn’t sure if that was a, that was going to be a sustainable future. I still will say that I do think teachers in BC are underpaid compared to how much they work and everything they put up with. But I went in for my media and cultural studies diploma, thinking that I could get a teaching bachelor’s on top of that. So, I would start off with the diploma, see where that took me. And then if I wanted to go into teaching, I could just add that on top and it wouldn’t be too much of an extra commitment. And during that time, I went a completely different route and I started working in fashion, which was not something that I planned. And when that ended, I really wasn’t sure what to do with myself. I was kind of at a crossroads. I was pretty young still. And yeah, just not sure what to do with myself. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in that position, but I think a lot of young people get kind of, oh, Luna, sorry, my cat, Luna. Just digging in my plant. People love cats, they’re good. Just digging in my plant. People love cats, they’re good. I love her too, but oh my God, could you not? My poor plant is dying over there in the corner. Mine too, but I can’t blame a cat. Where was I? You were in fashion and then you just got to your kind of, what do I do when I grow up? Yeah, yeah, I was really stuck on exactly what I wanted to do. So I went back to school, finished up my diploma. And when I graduated, I didn’t want to go into teaching anymore. It was just a huge departure from where I was in my life. And I think that ship had kind of sailed. So I saw a, I was recommended a job posting for the player experience rep, just part time. At Hyper Hippo, which is a support role. And so I thought, yeah, I can do that. I was working retail so I could just add another part time job on top of that, see where it took me while I really wasn’t sure what to do with my life. And then I never worked part time. I immediately went into full time and the rest is history.
07:11 Greg Posner Sweet. And player experience, like I think to myself when it comes to player experience, I’d probably need experience for that. How am I going to jump into a role? Like maybe you were a
07:21 Aislinn McDivitt gamer and we could talk about that. But like, how do you prep yourself saying I’m going to be ready for a player experience role at a gaming company? Oh, really good question. I didn’t prep for these questions either. So no, no, no, no, that’s a really good one. It was, you know, I did have a bit of imposter syndrome at first thinking I was not prepared. It’s a very male dominated industry. And so I was coming in, I was the youngest person at the company at the time. And I was, I didn’t identify with the word gamer, not because I didn’t play games. But because when you think of a gamer, you typically think of like a Call of Duty, Diablo players, typically a man or a boy. And I was playing like the Sims, Animal Crossing, Minecraft. I play a ton of games on my phone, typically puzzle or time management ones. And you just don’t really see that represented under the word gamer. So I felt very out of place at first. But like I said, I’ve always played games, specifically mobile games. When I worked in fashion, I traveled a lot. And I was traveling for months at a time in one suitcase, there really wasn’t an opportunity to have a lot of hobbies, even things like I love reading, couldn’t bring a lot of books with you because you’ve got one suitcase for sometimes six or seven months of travel. But my phone was always there. So I did have some books on my phone. But I was constantly playing games while in airports, waiting for a train, waiting for a meeting to start. So I felt very familiar with what it’s like to be a mobile game player. And also to not see yourself represented under the title of gamer. So while I was very nervous at first, I had a really great team who taught me everything I needed to know and give me the confidence to stop feeling nervous.
09:29 Greg Posner I think there’s a lot of power in just being a gamer. You know what you like, you know what you don’t like. And yeah, you’re not an expert, but I can know I play the Sims and I hate the fact that this one button’s here. And why is this one button here and drives you mad? Like you’re not to say you’re qualified for the job, but you know the experience, you know what you’re doing, you can talk about what you’re doing. And it’s funny because it what I imagine kind of a player experience when you when you’re taking a look at the player experience, right? I imagine and I’m making this up in my mind as I go. So keep me as it’s not that far off from teaching because teaching you’re trying to get people to understand their curriculum. This is how things go. And when you’re looking at player experience, you want the players to do specific things in game. Have you ever made any connections between and I know you didn’t go to school for all the teaching. You went for some of it, right? But like from your mom and your grandma, like you ever relate anything from teaching to
10:20 Aislinn McDivitt what you’re doing with player experience? Absolutely. That’s a really interesting question. But a lot of the things that drew me toward teaching are the things I enjoy in my current job as well. I mean, there’s the obvious of training new reps going through the hiring process is a lot of actual teaching and that. But when you’re working with the player to there’s a lot of teaching them how things work. If there’s a question that comes in, I think it’s very similar to a teacher discussing with a student. And something that I like more about my current job is I think it’s quite collaborative. You know, we collaborate with the players in lots of ways
11:04 Greg Posner that I don’t know I would be able to experience if I were a teacher. Yeah, that’s cool. It’s fun that that’s the stuff you enjoy most. It shows that maybe you were born to be this teacher, but you’re able to expand that knowledge and apply the skills that you love to something else. And I just kind of love how you do that. Because even to this day, I have friends that are in teaching and they maybe want to try and get out of it. They’re like, but my only skill set is teaching. I’m like, no, but that’s a huge skill set that you can apply to anything else in any industry. Like almost anywhere you go from one industry to another, you can connect the lines on how things can match. And maybe KPIs are different. Maybe the skill sets are named something different, but you still learn these things that can translate over. And I think people don’t look with an open enough mind to say, hey, these things can be related, even though
11:47 Aislinn McDivitt they’re completely different types of jobs. Yeah, I completely agree with that. I also know a few people who went into teaching and are looking for a change in career. And it’s quite daunting because you do have your education is for education, but it is a really important skill set that I think is a lot of people would benefit in having somebody with those skills in their
12:11 Greg Posner organization. And something you said earlier, just to kind of double down on it is I think teachers are the most underpaid people. I mean, one thing we can all say about each other is that we’ve all had a teacher, something to help inspire us and get us to where we’re going to go. And teachers deserve nothing but the best comparative, not compared to everyone else, but they definitely deserve the best. Absolutely. I completely agree with that, especially with the rising cost of living. Yeah, teachers more. Seriously, I’m down for that. Let’s talk a little bit about HyperHippo. Can you give our audience kind of that may not be familiar with the types of games that you create?
12:50 Aislinn McDivitt Who is HyperHippo? Yeah, absolutely. So HyperHippo, we create, actually, let me restart that. So HyperHippo focuses on the idol genre. So games that play themselves even while you’re gone. Our big titles are Adventure Capitalist and Adventure Communist, which are both satirical, a bit controversial in theme, but it’s all in good fun. It’s all satire. Cool. And these are primarily all mobile, right? Are they creating on the other platforms? So Adventure Capitalist actually started off on Steam and PlayStation. And this is when HyperHippo was trying out a bunch of things, trying out new platforms and seeing where the audience was. And it was clear that our audience is mainly on mobile. Adventure Capitalist still has a
13:41 Greg Posner thriving Steam community, but we focus for our future titles primarily on mobile for right now. So you have Adventure Capitalist, Adventure Communist, and there was a whole bunch of them. And interesting podcast I had the other day. I can’t quite remember which one, but he talked about kind of cannibalizing players when you have multiple games in the same genre. Do you see your player base? And I’m not sure if you measure this. Do they adopt all the games? Do you understand who’s a player of Adventure Capitalist versus Communist versus
14:14 Aislinn McDivitt MechMice, right? Some of the other games as well. Oh, that’s a good question. I would not be the best person to answer that because I don’t have that data on the top of my head, but we do see different player profiles across our games. A lot of that is based on genre. So if you’re somebody who, or theme, I should say, a lot of it is based on theme. So somebody who is drawn to Adventure Communist, for example, may not be the same type of person who’s drawn to Adventure Agents, which is a time traveling theme. However, we do, I would say that a lot of our players try out all of our games and see which one they identify with the most, or perhaps there’s multiple titles that they identify with.
15:03 Greg Posner Do you keep a common player experience from within the game? So just from start to tutorial to playing the game, if I pick up one game, am I going to know the rest?
15:15 Aislinn McDivitt Yes and no. Our games do have different mechanics. Adventure Ages and Adventure Communist are the most similar, but our other games, primarily Vacation Tycoon and Adventure Capitalists, or our other main titles, do have different mechanics. So it’s not exactly a one for one. However, we do try to keep a lot of the hippo branding alive in the games. So if you’re playing one game, we hope that you can identify, oh, this is a hyper hippo game. And that would be based on things like the art, the humor, and of course the PX, the actual support that you get
15:55 Greg Posner from within the game. I love that about those genres of games where you can, with the artwork alone, just know this is the same style of game. I immediately think of games like Bioshock, where there’s a few different Bioshocks that took place in different worlds, but just the artwork alone just kind of always brought you back to this is the type of game I’m playing. And I think that’s important for players, especially when they love a game, that it’s all part of that immersive experience. And is this the stuff that you’re taking a look at as a player experience manager
16:21 Aislinn McDivitt when you are in that role? Yeah, absolutely. I want to know what the players are identifying as a hippo trademark and what they’re liking. An unexpected one, I shouldn’t say unexpected exactly, but we have a reputation for good OSTs. Our music is now made entirely in-house, and players love our music. Right when I first started, we would get people emailing in asking, is your music on SoundCloud? Is it on Spotify? I just want to listen to it as I’m working. And so now we do have all of our music up on YouTube. And whenever a new event comes out for Adventure Communist specifically, we get people asking, okay, where’s the music? Can you upload the music? It’s awesome. Which I love hearing that. It wasn’t something that we necessarily intended to do, but we do take pride in our OSTs. And it was delightful to hear that players were appreciating
17:28 Greg Posner that. It’s little things like that, that when you hear about the dominance of generative AI coming out, these little things make your game special, right? And it’s fun. And yeah, you probably can eventually have AI make that, but just complementing the music of the game, that would just take me so off guard and get me so excited about some little thing. That’s awesome that you love it. I’d love to be able to… I have a friend that plays different music soundtracks throughout his working day. That would drive me mad personally, because I want to just go start playing a game. But it’s awesome that you have the ability to attract the audience and keep people just based
18:06 Aislinn McDivitt on the soundtrack. I think that’s special. That makes something special there. Especially with us being a mobile game company, a lot of players will play with their sound off as they listen to their own music or their own podcast. So we’ve had people write in saying, I usually turn the music off,
18:22 Greg Posner but I always keep it on for your game. That’s really special to hear. Tell them they can even turn it off and load it up on Spotify and just run the whole soundtrack to as they’re playing. But that is special, right? And I mean, again, on the podcast, I asked you what you did when you were growing up, right? Some people are artists. There’s roles for art people, there’s roles for music people, there’s roles for everyone in the game. I think that’s the most exciting thing about it. When it comes to player experience, how do decisions you make happen? Are you getting feedback from people? Are you talking with your team internally? Is it everyone raises their hand
18:54 Aislinn McDivitt or plays 7up or something like that? I would love if we played 7up. I don’t know how we would do that remotely, but I will be talking to my team about that. We have two, what are they called? Values. One of our company values is being player first. So that means always putting the player and the player’s best interests above anything else. And the other one, the other value that would be relevant here is transparency. Internally, I would say those two values guide the PX team more than anything else. So when we are talking to the developers about a new feature, say, that’s coming out or we’ve gotten some feedback from the community, it’s very collaborative. We are very transparent with the devs about exactly what the players are saying and they are transparent back to us about any limitations. Sometimes we have a request for them that just, do you do some, you know what, ask that sentence. I love where you’re going with it though. There are some times where we might provide feedback or suggestions and we don’t understand
20:15 Greg Posner the technical limitations or perhaps we just have manpower limitations. So where am I going with this? As you’re going, it’s going to lead to this next question, which is good, right? Because I’d like to ask about the philosophy that your team follows. And you were saying that you follow your core values, which are fantastic. And what’s fun, Nashin hasn’t mentioned it in either his eyes, is if you go to the Hyper Hippo website, which we will have on our webpage, A, they all call themselves Hippos, which is just fun in general. But there’s also a video that will go through each different individual or at least I think there were seven core values and each person talking about a core value. And Aislinn, I had yours written down, I probably erased it when I was taking notes here during the thing here. But Aislinn’s one of her core values, that was people first. Yes, I think people first. Player first. Sorry. So I think it’s exciting and I like your communication with your engineering team. A lot of times we hear about a lot of disconnect between a support team and engineering team. So how does that communication happen?
21:21 Aislinn McDivitt Okay, so we are, I’m very lucky that we have a very player first development team and engineering team who are very interested in hearing from the PX team. So we have a community manager, and he is constantly in our socials, our Discord, our Reddit, our Facebook, Twitter, paying attention to what people are saying, communicating with them directly as well. And then compiling that very neatly and in a way that’s digestible for the development team. And that could include screenshots, links to different posts across the web, direct feedback from the players. And in return, the dev team will very transparently tell us exactly what’s going on on their end, if there are any delays due to limitations, you know, especially during the summer, a lot of people are off on vacation. So that can cause some delays as well. And then give us something that we can go back to the players with. And we do try to be as transparent as we can be. You know, obviously we can’t give every detail about the happenings at our company, but we really do try to give as many details as we can about why a decision was made, why a feature was implemented the way that it was, you know, what changes are coming. But when they’re coming, you know, we might decide based on player feedback, okay, this event, maybe it was too hard, or it was too easy, or the players aren’t liking this particular mission, we want to change that. We might not be able to change it right away. And so we do try to tell the players, you know, an expected timeline for when that might happen. But it’s very collaborative within our studio, there isn’t really a hierarchy of who gets to make the final decision. It really is a conversation between the PX team
23:19 Greg Posner and the production team. I think that’s very cool the way it’s done. I think it’s not often, again, like I said, you find a team that’s collaborative, like between engineering support, it’s usually kind of acting as a middleman between the player and sometimes it gets frustrating, which it still does, I’m sure. But I also like the, I know I wouldn’t call it publishing your roadmap, right, but I like the idea of being able to share a good amount of stuff, right. And the problem is, and I think a lot of people don’t always realize this, is that when you’re talking about engineering for a SaaS tool or a game, right, like it’s hard to give hard deadlines, stuff happens, stuff breaks. And some players, most players maybe understand that, but a lot of local ones also don’t understand that. That’s why broken games often get released and then patched afterwards. But I like that idea. And it got me thinking, like, when your players, you run a season pass or a season event, how are you getting that feedback from the players? Is it from social, like you mentioned, or is it from in game? Or how do you, how do you work towards
24:20 Aislinn McDivitt collecting that feedback from your players? So it’s a combination of both. We do have our community manager who is often, especially in the Discord and Reddit, but our player experience reps, who are, you can think of them as support reps. They’re also in Discord, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and they’re always listening. It’s really important to us to get this feedback. So oftentimes it’ll be collected via screenshot or direct link. We’ll send things over real time in Slack, but we also have frequent meetings with the production team. And what is really the purpose of the meeting is really to listen to what the players are saying, as well as to, you know, of course, update our PX team with any changes in the production roadmap. So we collect things via social. We also collect feedback from within the game. So we use Help Shift, which we love. And yeah, it’s made a huge difference in our, the way that we support our players. We can collect feedback very efficiently using Help Shift. We do have a feedback bot that players can use. Everything is tagged, so we can easily sift through any new feedback from the week. And we can actually use that to give our production team hard numbers, which, of course, producers love data, developers love data. And so we can say we have X amount of tags from the most recent event, X amount are positive, X amount are negative. This is the mission in particular that players don’t really like or that they’re struggling with. And here is supplemental data from Discord and Twitter and Reddit with more player feedback.
26:17 Greg Posner So great information. Thank you for plugging Help Shift. It’s better than I could ever do. And it’s good to hear that it makes a difference because I love it, obviously. I work there, but I love to be able to hear other people just understanding, hey, I can collect feedback, because feedback, I think, is one of the most important parts. And it’s funny how many game companies don’t necessarily collect feedback. And it just always boggles my mind, like, how are you not collecting feedback? It’s how you learn how to update the game and pivot the game. We briefly, well, we didn’t talk about it in the podcast, but we talked about segmentation. And segmentation for our listeners who don’t know, it’s just be able to segment groups of players, some are influencers, or maybe some are streamers, or some are VIPs. I’m not sure if you do that today, maybe we don’t have to dig into that. But when you’re collecting feedback, do specific voices
27:05 Aislinn McDivitt from the community, are they louder than others when you’re taking notes? I mean, of course, you do have, we do have our community influencers. And of course, their opinion is very influential. And we do have the people who basically after every new event will give us their feedback. And we really value that. But I wouldn’t say that we would value it any more than anyone else. It’s really interesting when people who don’t normally speak up start speaking up. Yeah, well, that’s when you you know, either something is really wrong, or it’s really good. So when we were talking about the music, for example, I personally really noticed it when people we don’t normally hear from in places we don’t normally hear from players, started mentioning the music. That is not to say that the people who give us consistent feedback, we don’t take that just as seriously. These are most engaged players, they know the game better than you know, anyone else really, because they’re actively playing it. So that isn’t to say that their consistent feedback isn’t also very, very helpful. It really is. But it’s interesting when you start hearing from
28:27 Greg Posner people who don’t normally speak up. I love that. I really do. Because I like to think of myself as a more of actually a quiet person. And I think people who are quiet, especially if you can see that they’re playing the game a lot. I think when a quiet person that is engaged in the game speaks, that carries a very big stick. And that means, oh, this longtime player who I’ve never heard from has a problem. And if I want this person to keep playing who I never have to hear from, let’s see what’s going on and investigate this. I mean, that’s influences are great for game, because they’re going to spread the word, but you need these players that are just continuously grinding
28:59 Aislinn McDivitt in the game and playing in the game and giving the game use right and listening to them, I think is essential. It’s especially you raise a really good point. I think that most players don’t write in. I think for most people, if they’re playing a game, and there’s an issue, they’ll just delete the game. So for every person who writes in, we can imagine there are 10 2030, who have the same opinion, the same problem or the same critique, who just deleted the game or didn’t write in. I mean, how many times have you written into a mobile games support team?
29:38 Greg Posner Me personally, while you’re asking, maybe the wrong person who has to test it out a lot with our customers. I am asking the wrong person. Oh, darn. And then you think, no, I get it. You’re right. It’s a funny thing about the internet, because you have communities like Reddit, where when you’re hidden behind a username, you can be a completely different individual than when you see them in the streets, right? Like people online, who I think are the loudest, probably when you see them in real life, are probably quiet and just going to be sitting there, right? So it’s an interesting thing about being able to be online. But when you’re playing a game and you want to give your honest opinion, right, if you’re not trolling anyone, it’s still going to be that important thing that you hear from.
30:17 Aislinn McDivitt Yeah, I have personally written in not just for my own testing, but for genuine reasons, I’ve written into two companies. One was a gaming company and one was a different app. I was having issues in both. And it really took a lot for me to write in, to be honest. In the game, I was very displeased with a glitch that ruined my save. And in the app, there was a glitch that basically made the app unusable for me. But I’ve had issues in other games too. They were minor issues, or I had minor critiques, or I had feedback of something I really liked, and I didn’t write in. I’m not the kind of person who would typically do that unless there’s a big issue. So we can imagine every time somebody does give us feedback, there are so many more people with the
31:19 Greg Posner same opinion. It’s a great dilemma. Years ago, I was on a call with a prospect and they created an Xbox game that I actually played every night. I loved it. Me and my buddies would play it. And it was going well. And I said, yeah, every time I log on, I get a network error. And I just hit A and it retries and it works. They’re like, well, have you reported the problem? I said, no. I mean, just hit A and it works. They’re like, well, that’s the problem. If you have a problem, you’ve got to let us know. I think that’s the interesting thing is you play these games and you have an error. Maybe you just reloaded and it worked. But someone else had that problem and probably quit the game and uninstalled it. Or maybe it happens a few times. As an engagement manager at a certain point, do you even think about how can I start proactively reaching out? How can I get this information from players who aren’t talking to me to understand their insight? I know it’s a tough question that may not even have an answer,
32:13 Aislinn McDivitt but is it something you’ve thought through? It is. And you’re right. It’s a really tough dilemma of being proactive. But for a lot of issues right now, we’re really relying on hearing from our players. There are things that people in the industry are working on so that we can be more proactive in detecting issues. And a lot of those I can’t really speak on. But something that I would like to highlight is the relationship building between our community manager and all of our other PX reps and our community members. People feel more comfortable coming to you with a minor issue. If they know you have a username that they’re familiar with, they’ve seen you joking around and sending gifts and the discord, they know who you are. You have a personality to them. You’re not just a nameless support bot. So that’s one of the ways that we have been seeing some success of catching, especially minor issues early on. The other thing too is going through the reviews. We pay very close attention to the reviews. Not just one star, but five stars. Not just English language ones, all languages. Because if a player has a problem, they might delete the app and just say, didn’t work for me because of XYZ. And you’re more likely to catch minor issues that are causing players to delete the game through the reviews from players who aren’t engaged enough yet to actually send in a support ticket. They have no real feelings towards the game yet. Maybe they’ve just downloaded it, encountered an error and deleted it. So we respond to as many reviews as we can, asking people to write to us with more details or giving them support instructions through the review if that’s what’s needed there. We also really analyze the reviews to see if there’s an uptick in certain problems. That’s
34:26 Greg Posner actually another way we collect feedback. Players will sometimes leave it just in the reviews. Yeah, we see that quite a bit often. I’m not sure if you’re pulling reviews into HelpShift, but it’s interesting when customers decide to do that because there is some people that don’t work reviews well, but people leave some good information in there, right? And just being able to analyze it is kind of essential. We’ve talked about Reddit, we’ve talked about Discord, we’ve talked about the iOS and Play Store. As I am getting older, I’m finding that it’s tougher for me to understand what are the more popular channels these days, but where do you see most of your community living
35:00 Aislinn McDivitt these days and engaging on? Good question. We’re getting a lot from Discord and Reddit. I would say our most engaged players are there, but it really depends on the product. Adventure Capitalist, for example, is very appealing to people of all ages, from very young players to more senior players. And Facebook is quite popular with those age groups. For some of our products, we have a more active Facebook page, but Reddit and Discord, I would say, are the two biggest. And then I would add reviews in there as well because you get a very nice sampling of people
35:42 Greg Posner who are not so engaged and very engaged. That’s interesting. It makes sense now that I think about it. I used to work for a social networking company and the older demographics are still on Facebook. They’re not necessarily going to always be on Reddit or Discord, but they might be. But yeah, if you’re marketing a game for an older demographic or a more experienced demographic, Facebook is probably the place to do that. Whereas for everything else, I could see it being more so. I could see Discord being a younger demographic, but Reddit is probably
36:14 Aislinn McDivitt binding those two a little bit. Yeah. And we’re experimenting with other channels as well. Doing some experiments with Twitter, with TikTok and YouTube Shorts. And something that I’m specifically looking into is where are international players and how do we communicate with them effectively? I think one of the things that we really do well at Hippo is communicating with our players through social channels. So responding to tweets, responding to Facebook comments and Facebook messages and engaging with players in the Discord. But right now, we are an English speaking team. And by nature, that just happens to attract English speaking users, which makes sense. I play a game that is from a Korean studio and I probably wouldn’t follow them on Twitter just for Korean tweets. Now actually, Twitter has a really good auto-translate function. But if they were posting Korean language TikToks, I don’t understand that. I probably wouldn’t follow it. I wouldn’t comment because I just I don’t speak Korean. So one thing that I’m looking at is where are our players who don’t speak English? Where do we need to go? And then how do we also communicate with them? Google Translate is… it’s fine. It does the trick. But especially for languages like Korean, Mandarin, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, it causes some funky errors. So an example that I think is kind of funny is a tweet from a Japanese player who is saying, this is really good for a neglected game. And I thought, oh, that’s not fair. They’re thinking we abandon our game maybe. We’re still coming up with updates for it. I need to look farther into this. And it turns out that they were trying to say, this is a really good idle game. And idle was being translated into neglected. And so I do… that’s something that we need to think about is, you know, what do we need to do to actually communicate with these players? Because what are we sending off to them in English? They’re translating and going, oh,
38:52 Greg Posner hey, that support rep was kind of mean. Yeah, it’s such a good point, because I’m not going to push any of my services. We often see companies think, I’m just going to throw my FAQs in Google Translate and just copy and paste the FAQs into Google Translate. And we’re like, that’s not a good idea, because… No. …me and you talking real quick right now, yeah, maybe Google Translate will be good enough. But… and something about the Japanese, we’ve seen that Japanese are the highest in-app spenders when it comes to actually engaging with online games. And you want to make sure that you’re close to perfect when it comes, especially in Japanese, but all the languages, right? Because, again, like, you rolled with it being a big game, but what are you going to do? But like, that’s not what they even meant. And you only know that because you looked up how many other times does this happen, and no one even looks it up. So I think, yeah, it’s a fun, fun thought of like, how do you do that when it’s time? How do you know what channels? How do you
39:54 Aislinn McDivitt know the appropriate way to communicate with them? Yeah, and you raise a really good point about just the importance of high quality localization. If I was playing a game that was translated into English from another language, and the translation was poor, I wouldn’t want to be playing the game. And that goes not just for the translation. I think a lot of studios focus on really good game translations, and then let everything else kind of slide. Support needs to be well translated too, as best as it can be. Your FAQs have to be translated properly. And so our social channels now is the next challenge for me, or a challenge for me for the future. How are we going to, we are an English speaking team right now, how are we going to
40:50 Greg Posner engage in the same way we engage in English and support in the same way without turning players off because the translations are horrendous? Yeah, it’s going to be an interesting one. You got the WeChat to the world, the VKs of the world, all the other social giants that live outside the States or North America. So one of my last questions for you, Aislinn McDivitt of HyperHippo, global engagement specialist. What is the favorite part of your day?
41:22 Aislinn McDivitt Favorite part of my day? I guess more related favorite part of the day. I’m going to be controversial. I like a lot of my meetings. I know people are sick of meetings, and I agree there are too many, there are simply too many. However, I am an extrovert working from home. Right now I’m in my living room. I’m typically in my office, which is a glorified closet with no windows. And I really like collaborating with people. I like hearing their feedback and passing along feedback and creating something together. And I’m not saying we need a calendar full of meetings, but I get a lot of value from having my current meeting schedule is glorious. I have, you know, usually an hour and a half to two hours of meetings per day. And that’s perfect for me. I have a lot of time to get work done. But if I have a day with no meetings, I am noticeably more agitated at the end of the day. And I need to go out and actually see
42:33 Greg Posner people. Well, we’ve always heard in videos that people like meetings, we thought it was fake, but every day is promoting the meetings. Now I get it, right? You want us to be able to see people. There’s that fine line between too many meetings. It’s that whole, can you just do this with an email?
42:50 Aislinn McDivitt Yes. And I have had too many meetings before. So my, when I was a player experience rep, my people leader went on maternity leave. So I took over for her role. And then her people leader went on paternity leave. And it was too short of a time where it really made sense to, to hire for that role. So I took that on as well. And my calendar was stacked and there was simply too many meetings. I really did become a meeting hater in that time. You know, you have an eight hour day and nine of those are full of meetings, some of which did not need to exist. I get where people are coming from when they hate them. But if you tone it down, just do the essentials,
43:39 Greg Posner then I think it can be quite nice. Fair. I have two last questions for you and I’ll let you go, but they’re in the form of one quote. Well, it’s all going to come out at once. What Aislinn didn’t share with everyone is that growing up, she loved Barbie Detective on Glam Boy Color. Yeah, I did. Yeah. I mean, who doesn’t the Barbie games are fantastic. So the first question is, are you going to go see the Barbie movie this weekend? This is opening weekend. And the second question is what game or technology are you most excited about in the near term future?
44:09 Aislinn McDivitt I loved it was Barbie Secret Agent, I believe is what it was called. And that game transformed me. And I’m absolutely seeing the Barbie movie. Thank you for asking. I have my outfit picked out. I am painting my nails pink. I am painting my boyfriend’s nails pink. I am painting our friends nails pink. We are all going dressed up ready for I think it’s going to be the movie of the decade. I’m convinced that you are going to go with Oppenheimer stuff afterwards as well. So you could quickly change and just go run into Oppenheimer. I thought about it. I really, really did. I hear a lot of people are doing Oppenheimer first and then Barbie to cheer up. I get that. That makes sense. And the reviews for Oppenheimer are great. I think it debuted with 96 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, which is insane. But I’m not in the mood to be depressed. Sir, I get it. There’s a lot of depressing things in the world. We don’t need more. We don’t need more. As for technology or games I’m excited about, I will answer both. For game, I’m really excited about Coral Island, which is a Stardew Valley-esque game with incredible art. I believe it’s an Indonesian company that’s creating it. And so I love the cultural aspects that are coming through. It is released, but I believe it is the beta version. And I did just recently get a Steam Deck. So I’m considering getting it on Steam Deck or I might wait for its release on Switch. I am a handheld player generally. I do like some PC games, but I grew up with my Game Boy and my DS. So I prefer the handheld generally. As for technology, I am very excited about AI. I know a lot of people in my industry are terrified it’s going to replace our jobs. And maybe I’m being a little too optimistic, but I’m really excited to see how it can work alongside our teams to make things easier. I’m really interested in how it could help us with the challenge of communicating with players on social media who don’t speak English, how it can help us go into these different social media platforms and also just communicate where we already are. That example I gave earlier with the idle genre being translated to neglected, I know that there are some AI models. If I might plug Kantan AI that Keywords has, I know that would be a solution for something like that. Because the AI can recognize that this word in this context should be translated this way. We also have Adventure Communist released in Spanish from Spain, European Spanish, and Latin American Spanish. And there are some words that would be translated differently, most notably for Adventure Communist, the word potato is translated differently. And the game is potatoes are a very key aspect. So I’m interested in using AI to help us differentiate when the word should be translated into European Spanish or Latin American Spanish. I also think from a localization and NGM standpoint, it could help us reach players in languages that we can’t currently afford to support. Translation, high quality translations and localizations are really expensive and time consuming. And we just can’t translate into every language that there is even if we’d like to. But I’m interested, how can AI help us speed things up, obviously with the help of real translators still because their wisdom and their empathy is really unparalleled. I don’t think AI is there quite yet. But working together with translators and AI,
48:29 Greg Posner what languages can we expand into that right now just isn’t feasible for us? Yeah, I think that’s well said. I think I agree. I mean, we’re like seven months into maybe seven months into chat GPT becoming really mainstream and already the spin offs and the new technologies that have spurred from it. I mean, it’s early days this technology where it’s pedal to the metal and it’s exciting to see where things go. And I think being able to, and we talk about this a lot, but being able to learn how to use these tools. They’re not meant to necessarily replace people, but it’s helped to enable you to get your work done more efficiently, more effectively, smarter. Right. And yes, to your point, you’ll be able to communicate with these people in Korea, in Japan, in Singapore, in Germany, right? Without knowing that language. And you can feel a little more confident knowing, all right, this is going to come out the right way, because this is, this is how it’s designed. This is how it’s built. So I think it’s cool stuff.
49:23 Aislinn McDivitt Yeah. And maybe, you know, in the next three years, I will look back at this podcast with tears in my eyes because I have been completely replaced by the robots. But I genuinely think there is a future where AI and real humans are happily living alongside each other, singing lovely songs and dancing and getting work done. There are certain jobs I do not like doing. They are boring. Nobody likes doing them. They’re very mundane. I’m interested in how AI can help with that. And I can focus, and everyone on my team can focus on the more important, more exciting aspects of our job. Specifically the areas that do still require the empathy that I don’t think AI has, and I don’t see it having for a little while. Agreed. But you know what, you never know how quickly this is going to move these days. Yeah, that’s true. That’s true. We’ll just have to see. I’m excited to see where it goes. And I think it can be really good. Again, if I lose my job to AI,
50:33 Greg Posner I’ll come to you crying. Well, Aislinn, I am so happy you came. I really enjoyed this conversation. I think it went really well. And I’d love for you to just anything else, anything you want to plug,
50:46 Aislinn McDivitt share, talk to. Stage is yours. Yeah, this was a lot of fun. Thank you so much for having me. If anyone is listening and they would like to try an idle game, I have to plug, of course, Hyper Hippos games. My current favorite is our newest game, Vacation Tycoon. And I’m also a die hard adcom fan, adventure communist. But of course, if you want to try any of our games, please do. And I got to plug Help Shift as well. We use Help Shift. It made a huge difference in my job when we switched over. And I’m a Help Shift’s number one fan. So thank you for helping.
51:27 Greg Posner I’m not even making her say that. But thank you for those kind words. And it’s been great. I really enjoyed just hearing about you wanting to become a teacher followed by working in fashion, followed by now being in gaming. I think this is going to be a kind of an inspiration to some people that are out there wondering how it can get from here to there. So I really appreciate hearing your story. And we will have all the information about Ashton on our player engage as well as Hyper Hippo. And we’ll even we’ll even find the Barbie game to link it up there. But I really enjoyed this. And I hope you have a great rest of your day. And thank you for joining us today. Thank you so much. Talk to you soon. Yeah, thanks for listening, everybody. Have a great rest of your day.