Community x gaming


Community-centric gaming: Inside Punk Secrets’ player-first approach

Historically, game development focused almost entirely on the product itself. Companies would design, develop, and release games with the main goal of maximizing sales and product performance. Interaction with players was limited, mostly to customer support and occasional updates, and succes was measured by sales numbers and critical reviews. Today, the gaming industry is all about the community. Developers now prioritize ongoing engagement with players, treating the community as an integral part of the game’s ecosystem rather than mere consumers. In 2024, the gaming market is set to hit $272.86 billion and is projected to grow to $426.02 billion by 2029. The rise of social media, live streaming, and direct communication channels has made it easier for developers to stay connected with players- not only building player loyalty and encouraging sustained growth, but also providing real-time feedback and supporting mental health. Over 70% of gamers play with friends, and millions worldwide are part of massive virtual gaming communities.

As our partner in the Web3 gaming world, they continuously release new features and updates, and focus on intuitive design to keep the gameplay fresh and exciting. Led by Maria Liv Andersen and her development partner, Chris Nwasike, they prioritize the community’s experience. In our latest interview, we explore how their innovative practices and strategies keep the community at the heart of gaming:

1.How do you prioritize and think about community? What values resonate with your community the most?

“At Punk Secrets our core mission is to create value for our community. We believe that community IS utility. Making sure our community members always have access to a supportive team and fun and engaging activities is our top priority. Practically, we achieve this through our flagship game, The Secret World, and by maintaining a constant presence on platforms like X and our Discord server. Every Tuesday, we host community spaces on X with updates about what we have done the previous week, what is to come, and occasionally featuring guests or founders from other projects. In addition, we have games on Discord and are always there if our community members have questions or just wanna hang out. We believe that focus on mental health in Web3 is very important, which is another reason why we maintain a close relationship with our community members. We want to be available – even on tough days. Our community is diverse, spanning various genders, geographies, and age groups. Despite our differences, we share the same values to have an open, friendly and welcoming community. But what truly sets our community apart is the people in it; we have had success in attracting community members across all walks of life, and when we meet- we are all equal, curious to learn more about each other. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere where banter and fun is always present. It gives us organic growth, with new members discovering us through various channels and competitions. With a steady influx of individuals who share our values, our community continues to thrive. Ultimately, I think what resonates with our community is that they see and experience that we are constantly building for them, always readily available. Transparency is key in Web3, and our community always knows where we are heading.”

2. How do you use gamification to keep people engaged?

“In the NFT space it’s widely known that “degens have a very short attention span”. So, if you want to engage them, you have to show them something that captures their interest immediately. If things become too complicated or require excessive information gathering before starting, many people lose interest before even beginning. For this reason, we’ve designed The Secret World to be easy and intuitive. As well as easy on the eyes, which we think is important for visual impression. To keep players engaged, since most of the time they quickly grasp how the game works, we roll in regular updates in a running manner. Some may be smaller, others bigger, but overall they show the community that we are here and building. And, I think it also makes the players feel they are part of something bigger.

The Secret World is a platform where we can host many NFT communities, so it is our goal to keep bringing in other communities to their own gardens. When we do this, we look at each individual project’s utilities and perks, and see how we can integrate them into the garden in an innovative manner. For example, we implemented a feature where players can swipe the “lives” of master cats to make rodents stay away. This means the gardens are not a “one size fits all” but are tailored to the given project. We have just launched our 4th garden, The Vanishing Glade, which requires an Ephemeral for access. This NFT cannot be minted but only earned through engagement. Initiatives like fan art competitions have encouraged community members to explore new skills, such as AI art, simply to gain access to the Vanishing Glade. In the eksampel fan art competition, we saw community members try their hand at AI art for the first time simply because they wanted to get into the Vanishing Glade! Soon we’ll open the first “town” in the Secret World, and the lore begins. Players can already have a sneak peak of what’s to come if they look under the trading section.”

3. How are responsible gaming practices communicated and enforced within your community?

“There are a few things we do. Firstly, we implement time limits for game sessions to prevent excessive play. For instance, the Plant Matching Mini-Game uses a timer to limit each round, encouraging players to take breaks between sessions. Secondly, we make sure that game mechanics are fair and transparent. For example, the use of power-ups and their effects are communicated to players, and the outcomes are based on skill rather than chance, reducing the risk of addictive gambling behaviors. Thirdly, when incorporating in-game purchases, such as Seeds and Essence for power-ups, we set purchase limits and provide clear information about costs to help players make informed decisions.
We also encourage a supportive and inclusive community where players can discuss their gaming habits and seek advice. Moderators and community managers are trained to recognize and address issues related to excessive gaming. In addition, we regularly collect feedback from players about their gaming experiences and their views on responsible gaming practices. This helps refine and improve the strategies.

Offering robust player support systems enable players to report issues or seek help regarding gaming habits. This includes easy access to self-exclusion options and resources for those who need professional help. Lastly, we use in-game notifications and messages to remind players of healthy gaming habits. For example, periodic reminders to take breaks and information about the impacts of excessive gaming.

In the future, and hopefully soon to come, implementing monitoring and moderation systems will involve a team of moderators and automated tools to identify and address signs of excessive play and gambling-like behavior. Additionally, we plan to establish multiple support channels such as email, chat, and forums to make sure players have access to assistance related to responsible gaming.”

4. How do you handle the compliance aspect of game development especially in the face of new innovation like ETH payments? How does PixelPai play a role in this?

”We’ve recently received the green light from Pixel Pai that we can now launch ETH payments in the game. Initially, we had not considered this path, simply because the gambling/gaming and crypto regulation on the matter was overwhelming. Pixel Pai made a thorough analysis of our entire setup, and guided us how we could do this and what to keep in mind. As a result, we will soon be introducing in-game purchases with ETH, and we are also exploring the possibility of allowing players to withdraw ETH from the game in the future. While this last part is still in development, with Pixel Pai’s guidance this can become a reality. Without PixelPai’s support, Punk Secrets wouldn’t have been able to navigate the complex regulatory requirements for in-game/out-game ETH transactions alone. Having Pixel Pai as a creative compliance partner has opened our eyes to many more possibilities than we could have imagined.”

Want to know what our partnership is about? Read through part one and  part two of our first official interview with Liv and Chris!

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