Learnings from an early community launch

It’s been over a year since our web3 battle royale, Mighty Action Heroes, was conceptualised and laid out on paper. After some serious planning in the first half of 2022, we managed to successfully fundraise despite the market (3AC, Terra/Luna crash era) and ended up kicking-off community building at the tail end of July. The intent was to mint our first NFT collection — the Big Bear Syndicate (BBS) — in early September.

We ended up delaying our mint. The market was shifting into the bear and our original plan was more bullish, with a higher mint price and higher supply than what we ended up with. We also introduced a genesis pass (the MightyNet Genesis Pass) that needed to be minted before the BBS. Timelines were more tangled than an episode of Doctor Who, but we had to power through, sonic screwdriver be damned. We felt it was important to be able to demonstrate both speed and execution by shipping meaningful updates before the year ended. Everyone in the space knew we were coming in from web2 — we had stuff to prove!

So we ended up in a situation where we were working on our product feature list and scope even as we sped deeper into development. More critically, our community channels were already live — and we needed consistent content to engage players and investors with.

Our early community launch has been nothing short of challenging. Here are some of the things we’ve faced, and how we’ve been able to mitigate or find the silver lining in them.

Discord: Highs, Lows, and How to Handle Them

We gained an incredible 10,000+ users within our first day of launching Discord, all of these users excited to claim their OG (the First Division) role for future benefits. They were hyped for a new game built by a team with a strong, traditional web2 game dev background.

Hype in the Discord remained high as we delivered according to the initial timeline: to go to mint 4–6 weeks post-community-launch. Once we announced the delay, however, things fell quiet. The FTX saga didn’t help, and the web3 space spiralled further into the depths of crypto winter.

So it was triage time. We tried some of the proven methods of community engagement, like playing games and having quiz nights. Here are a couple of things that worked.

  • Quiz Nights were always hyped. People love a good social activity with the lowest possible barrier to entry. They were also very easy to run; once we had the details worked out, it was possible for 1–2 people to run one. Each Quiz Night could last about an hour.
  • Meme Contests also worked great. We provided meme templates done up Mighty Action Heroes style, but people were really creative and honestly didn’t even need them. Judging a meme contest was always great. It’s definitely very cool to see your IP out in the wild, and it helps with brand building!

And what definitely didn’t work was playing other games with your community when you, yourself, are building a game. Shoutouts to Stumble Guys for being a crowd favorite for many projects, but we once ran a play-with-mods game night where we only had about 6–8 folk show up and play Stumble Guys. It was lonely! We quickly learned that our community was really more interested in playing our actual game.

We have noticed that community engagement mimics the mood of the market. If the market is depressed, so is the average investor or member of your community. If the market’s hyped, well, so are their bags, and by extension, so are they.

The good news for us was that starting our Discord early, at the start of the bear, helped cement our intent to be a real project rather than some skem pump-and-dump, get-rich-quick sham. “We’re here to stay,” was the message it telegraphed, and honestly, people listened. We have some folk, most if not all of them holders by now, who have been with us since Day 1, and who are going to be with us when Mighty Action Heroes goes to the moon. All because they believe in the game and the team’s ability to deliver. This has actually helped shape how we view our community today, and the goals we have for that part of our project.

1,000 True Fans

The 1,000 true fans theory (credit due to its original creator, Kevin Kelly (read the essay here)) is something we’ve begun to heavily subscribe to in recent months, because this is really all there is to creating and building an amazing new game. Instead of constantly worrying about fluctuating social channel followers, we’ve started to think of how we can better engage our 1,000 true fans: the ones who’ve been here from the start.

There are many benefits to this. It alleviates pressure on the team to constantly push out new marketing initiatives to cater to the TikTok-length attention span of the average internet user; it allows us to be more thoughtful when it comes to prioritising development features; and most importantly, it gives us the space to build actual relationships and get direct feedback from people who genuinely care about the game, instead of the dumpooors and flippers. It’s a whole perspective switch that cascades down to things like team health, which in turn affects team velocity too.

Some of the things we’ve done since agreeing internally to focus on this objective are:

  • Taking a reasonable amount of time (even if that meant delaying some milestones) to develop a proper web experience for the user. If we had been pressed to cater to the loudest voices in the room (WEN MINT WEN TOKEN), we’d have to half-ass the work, resulting in worse sentiment.
  • Been more thoughtful about the Spaces and AMAs we attend, instead of showing up at every opportunity offered regardless of timezone. We’re based in Singapore, and sometimes we get inconsiderate requests to show up at 1am, or even 4am! Being thoughtful about this keeps the team sane and happy. We also started holding our monthly Townhalls (watch April’s one here, now with sick visuals) in our mornings to not make the team do unnecessary overtime.

A Quiet Place (or Discord)

These days, our Discord is fairly quiet when we don’t have a big milestone to share. Activity has been high the last two weeks because we announced our next game build for Mighty Action Heroes, the launch of Linking ecosystem NFTs in exchange for off-chain points (which can be used for on-chain Supply Crates), and a fun little airdrop/bounty reward for players who engage heavily within our ecosystem.

All of this would not have been possible to do without our prior experiences. By focusing on the goal of 1,000 true fans, keeping two-way engagement consistent (albeit we work more with partners now), and having the team’s health and velocity in mind, we were able to make more thoughtful choices, which showed in the work we shipped. If you have a North star for your project, it’s hard to go wrong!

We are looking forward to our Open Beta, happening later this year, because honestly, I can’t wait for more newcomers to come in and see a happy and healthy community.

That’s what really sets the tone for the rest of our game’s lifespan, and I’m excited to see where it goes!

If you enjoyed reading this, leave a comment, a clap, or follow us on Twitter at @PlayMightyHero!

Learnings from an early community launch was originally published in Mighty Bear Games on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.