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Community Management at Ludia: At the heart of our communities’ engagement

When people ask what is the role of a community manager, the most common answer we hear is that they spend alot time surfing on social media without understanding the real purpose. Since this profession did not officially exist a few years ago, varies from one company to another, and is still constantly evolving, it is only normal that one might not recognize its true value.

Here at Ludia, we understand the value that our Community Department brings through their everyday’s hard work engaging and exchanging with the passionate fans of our games. So when we hear that the most common vision of their role does not do them justice and is so far from reality, we decided that it’s time we highlight the important work this department is doing on a day-to-day basis. Without further ado, here’s an introduction of the vibrant Community Management team and a brief breakdown of their mission! 

Community management: the complexity of a “new profession”.

Social, digital, creative and engaging. These 4 words might give you a first glimpse of what lies at the heart of the work of our community managers. But it would be a lie to tell you that this complex and constantly evolving profession can be reduced to just a few words. The reason why it is so complicated for many people to understand this position is that it is relatively new and the community managers work in a very fast paced environment.

If we were to give a general outline of it, the basic mission could be summarized as: to continuously improve retention by creatively and effectively animating, engaging and interacting with the communities, and to sustainably increase digital and social fingerprint for Ludia and its games. The focus is to foster strong relationships with our communities and to create a bridge between fans and developers. All this will create a virtuous circle of exchanges for the good of both the games and the communities. 

The keyword is engagement. Every idea that will be thought of and creative material created will serve this goal. Engaging can take many forms: entertain, inform, surprise, interact, share, value, reassure, praise, etc. Engagement will have an effect on the community’s dynamic, attraction and retention for the game and dedicated networks.

The main functions are organized around different axes:

– Monitoring the latest trends (industry, competitors, other brands, top trends)
– Creating appealing content
– Brainstorming for ideas to tease, build hype and excitement
– Scheduling and planning the content according to a precise calendar (while remaining reactive and up to date with new trends or news)
– Interacting and engaging continuously with the communities 
– Interacting and fostering relationships with Influencers, Content Creators and Ambassadors
– Analyzing and optimizing the performances of strategies and publications
– Sharing good practices but also failures to allow the whole department to move in the right direction and learn

All these steps must be thought of for the different platforms because each one of them will have its own social strategy, content to focus on and technical constraints. The main platforms managed by our team are :

– Facebook
– Twitter
– Instagram
– Youtube
– Official Ludia Forum

Of course, according to the different trends and the emergence of novelties, new platforms can be explored (like TikTok). In any case, the team always makes sure to be present wherever our communities are, more or less intensely.

And this is done for all our games! You see, no time to wander around really 🙂

The vibrant team of Community at Ludia

Being a great community manager requires several essential characteristics such as having strong writing skills, being creative, attention to details, curious, a tiny spark of adventurous spirit and knowing how to learn from success but also mistakes. One thing to remember, according to Marcus Tan, our Head of Community Management, is that “there is no magic formula in community management”. It’s a job of constant learning and that’s what makes it such a stimulating role on a daily basis!

When we take a look at Ludia’s Community team, beyond professionalism, several things stand out. First the energy, the positivity, the vibrant side and the brains of its 6 members always bursting with new and greater ideas. Then the feeling of trust, openness, transparency and sharing that are so very present among the team.

All members evolve with a common goal and the desire to make the games and the whole team shine. No solo work here, no one hidden in a tiny corner. Yes each member has his/her own communities to manage but sharing is one of the most valued elements. Thanks to the follow-ups and weekly meetings, more or less formal exchanges on the latest trends, ideas to try or develop and the sharing of the latest victories and failures, our community managers nourish their minds and inspire each other. They help each other and combine their strengths to overcome obstacles and difficult situations together.

Daily challenges

Everything changes very fast in community management. Trends, codes, what is considered creative, what becomes outdated, everything can go on and off in the blink of an eye. The team must therefore be insanely reactive and always on alert. The main challenge is to succeed in creating engaging content that will delight fans while capturing the attention of a new audience. In order to engage the communities successfully, it is a complex work to stay creative, inspired and as possible to try not to reuse the same content. It requires good capacities of adaptation and the ability to identify key indicators and analyze results. Yes, being a community manager also means having a sharp analytical mind!

Once again, this is not an exact science, because humans are at the heart of the role and the results! You need to A/B test, adapt, succeed, make mistakes, interact a lot and sometimes trust your gut-feelings to get to know the personality of your community. This is valid for new communities being created but just as true for the one already established. As every human being who’s part of it, a community has a subjective and changing vision.

A strong trust shared with the production’s team and our licensors

Preparing and planning for the games launch as well as the announcement of various promotions and the daily animation of the social platforms, Community works very closely with production and our licensors.

In both cases, trust and deep respect have been built over the years. Exchanges are open. Community’s expertise is appreciated and taken into account when it comes to anticipate players’ appreciation of an upcoming update or to share ideas for new features, optimizations or events according to the players’ expectations and trends. Community is also, just as our “Moderation and Social Care” team, a great ally to identify bugs immediately reported by players, and provide great help in resolving these issues in a timely manner. A great mutual support with production naturally emerged for the good of the games and our communities.

Same with the licensors: an established trust. Of course, licensors’ approval rounds take place in order to validate the content, but the partnerships are so strong and based on solid foundations that Community can easily propose new ideas and test new mechanics. Working in such close proximity with our partners gives the Community access to exclusive content, the ability to attend events (such as the 25th anniversary of Jurassic Park and D&D Live 2019: The Descent) and receive great social support. All this allows us to provide higher quality and interesting content to our fans!

A community management department is so much more complex than you thought, isn’t it?

Marketing in Video Games: Discovering Creative Services at Ludia

“Oh! You work in the Marketing department? What do you do exactly? Where do you fit in the production cycle?”

We hear that a lot. If you ask the people around you what marketing does in a video game studio you’d get answers like: they create tools and strategies to promote games and help with internal and external communications for the studio. Indeed, the big picture may look a lot like that. But we also often hear that marketing “only creates nice, pretty images” or that “everything is done last minute”. Believe me, I’ve done the exercise!

That being said, we’re not just about creating “nice images”. To show you what we do on the daily, let’s begin by introducing ourselves.

Creative Services: Who are they exactly?

First, who are we? We are the Creative Services team here at Ludia! In a few words, we’re a pretty cool team managing the creation of promotional videos and images of our games, ensuring that both our studio and our games get a great visibility externally, making them shine and last through time. 

Let’s get back to basics, shall we? What are our daily goals and who is part of the team? 

Our department is composed of a multidisciplinary team of graphic designers, web designers, motions designers, video editors, and sound designers. 

We study vigorously the market, our competitors, and the different updates and events occuring in our games. This information allows us to create assets that are perfectly aligned to our players’ reality and our studio’s image. Every image or video created has gone through a well reflected process of research and development. 

In order to keep up with what’s relevant in terms of our games, we also have a close relationship with the production team. We try to avoid, as much as possible, last minute requests, in order to deliver only thoughtful work. We constantly check Confluence pages dedicated to projects, and also maintain a close relationship with Producers and Artists. Staying up to date and having close communication are key. 

Promotional images but so much more…

One of our main responsibilities is creating promotional images. But we don’t stop there. We create visuals and animated content for our communities, web sites, newsletters, audio content, and video trailers. The tasks we handle are so diversified that even internally, people in other departments, still get amazed at all the things being produced by our marketing team. From time to time, when sitting in on interviews with our recruitment team, even they get surprised by all the current projects going on. 

This continuous variety in our missions and the multi-talented people on the team allows us to interact with various departments in the company: executives, producers, leads, animators, artists – most would be surprised to find out that we are connected to all of them at one point during a project. 

How can we build such close links with all those different departments? We developed, little by little, the right knowledge and capacities to help. Today, we know by heart what each department needs, we gather as much data and information as possible, exchange ideas based on our experience and on what’s going on in the market. Thanks to that, we are able to suggest possibilities and solutions whenever necessary. 

Daily, we discuss ideas, study references, search for what’s new and trendy, and transform the information received and collected into relevant images and videos that deliver results. 

By continuously engaging our players, we are able to help games stay relevant and players coming back even after years of their first release. A good example of this is our game “Dragons: Rise of Berk” which was released in 2014 and which still has a LiveOps Team to promote sales, new dragons, and new events. 

Our work is the result of deep reflexion and rigorous analysis

To create engaging and relevant material, we base our work on research conducted by other departments and the license at hand. In our promotional material we always try to put a spotlight on player favorites or what makes the players more reactive to an ad. This explains why in our Dragons games, Toothless and Light Fury are featured in most of the promotional material, and in Jurassic World: Alive you might see, sometimes quite funny AR situations, seeing as this feature enables us to display a dinosaur in the real world.

Our research can also lead us to creating new assets we would never have thought of on our own. For example, by checking in with our Community Department, we noticed that fans were screen grabbing splash screens because they really liked them, so we decided to offer phone background wallpapers based on them (and more!) in the Jurassic World: Alive landing page. We now see a good amount of wallpaper downloads after every update.  

To stay up to date and relevant with a game, we also analyse competitor strategies and what they might do differently regarding User Acquisition Ads, Promotionals Videos, Community Pages, Newsletters, and so on.

Remember when we mentioned that we are a multidisciplinary team? As you can see, it is more than necessary to be multifaceted when we look at the list of all the tools and different channels used in promoting a game

Working for our games, but also for our beloved Ludians!

Not only do we work for the games, but we also take part in our studio’s internal and external communications! For our parties or assemblies, the Communication’s team comes to us for the creation of all the assets required for the events: posters, cards, pins and videos, we always love to lend a helping hand.

We also take part in more big scale external events such as MIGS for example, by supporting the Communications and Human Resources teams. We can create posters, cards, one pagers, graphic elements for goodies or social media publications, but also corporate videos illustrating our daily life at Ludia and our amazing games. 

Being a point of contact for almost every department, we discuss with producers, communications and HR teams about their needs and expectations so we can participate in the creation of those assets and improve the visibility of our studio, who we are and what we do at Ludia. These elements combined help in attracting new talent, and in creating a positive impact on employees in the studio. 

Our ambition: to make a positive impact

It is so important for us to see the results of our work, internally as externally. We hope to make a positive impact, and that what we create can last through time for both our player base and our coworkers. We are so proud to support the development of clear communications internally and even prouder if we can contribute to the attraction of new talent. Externally and for our games, it is always a huge satisfaction to know that we contribute to the players’ engagement. We study new ways of attracting players, help in the preparation of new game launches, and collaborate with all departments to help our studio grow. If a game still appears fresh and exciting after 5 years, and we, at marketing, have a little input on it, we are more than happy!

In a nutshell and a few hundred words, that’s what we do, this is who we are as part of Ludia. Maybe sometimes we do things that look shiny and cool – and sometimes just plain and to the point, but there’s always a purpose behind it. We love being part of this dynamic and ever changing environment. We take pride in delivering great assets, that are relevant and creative, and that deliver good results. Each day, we do our best to be up to this challenge!  

So next time you see an ad, a poster, a video, a promotional offer, a landing page, a pin,  please think about all the amazing people behind the work and everything involved that made it possible!

Love, Creative Services at Ludia.

Game Producer and Mother to an Infant: Coralie Munier Lets Us in on What It’s Like to Work From Home

For the last month and a half all teams at Ludia have been working from home. The current situation is complex and necessary, but brings with it its slew of challenges in the development of our projects, and also for the daily lives of all of our employees.

In this context we wanted to let you in on the day-to-day operations of the studio and some of our Ludians daily routines. This week, we start off with Coralie Munier, who has been a Producer here at Ludia for the last 8 years, and is a Mother to her 18-month old daughter. 

Coralie and Clémence

The production of a game while working from home

Coralie is a producer on our game Dragons: Titan Uprising. Between strategic planning, defining objectives, distribution of tasks, collaborating with other departments and managing a team of 30 people, even in a “normal” context this is a demanding role, highly based on communication. This can be very challenging to manage, especially at a distance.

On the other hand, Coralie and her team were able to rapidly adapt and efficiently keep up with production. “What helps us, is having an extremely clear roadmap. When the vision is clear, they know where they’re going and what they need to do.” Certain situations need to be managed more regularly but globally, they’ve tried to keep and maintain the same routine and functioning in place as the one at the studio; the sprint meetings once every two weeks, and the recurring, habitual meetings. The only thing that changes is that they are now virtual. 

It’s by being organized and keeping a weekly rhythm similar to that of what the team is used to, with a few exceptions of course, that allows for them to produce and maintain their same quality of work. 

Managing a team at a distance

It takes a lot of organization to manage a 30 person team including, notably game designers, developers, testers, and artists, in a way that is as efficient and human as possible. There wasn’t a need to put in place new things, but rather to simply adapt all the previously physical actions into virtual. Naturally, specific attention was placed on reinforcing communication and a regularity of contact (whether by call, video, or chat). This regular contact is more than to just discuss tasks and projects, but to ensure that each team member is feeling good, that there are no specific issues or to simply allow them to talk about how they are feeling. The team is encouraged to be open and honest about their emotions in order to be accompanied in a way that is ideal for them during this worrisome time. In addition to regular stand-up meetings, every team lead is responsible for 2-5 people which he or she must speak with every day. Similarly, Coralie takes the time to discuss with each of her leads daily.  

More generally speaking, for Ludians that have been with the studio for a longer period of time, it’s a bit easier, but for new employees, working from home can be a big challenge. The team therefore places special attention to the latest recruits. “One of our new arrivals started about 1 month before the deployment of remote work. He’s just freshly arrived in Montreal; he’s not in his country, doesn’t really have any friends here, nor family, and just moved into an apartment that doesn’t feel like home yet. We pay very special attention to him, his lead speaks to him everyday and creates social, informal moments. For example, they connect together at lunch time to play games together.” The most important aspect for Coralie is that not one person of her team feels isolated. 

Another category of people that are naturally having more difficulty in this situation, but for different reasons are parents. The key message for them is: do your best. As herself, a Mother to a young child, Coralie reassures parents and reminds them of the flexibility offered by Ludia to work when they can (in respect to the deadline of deliverables). She even rallied her troops to create a wonderful team spirit that allows others to support and help lessen certain people’s workload if need be.

“I think that with the current situation we’re really seeing Ludia at it’s best, the support between Ludians, and it makes us realize that we are lucky to be working in these conditions and for this studio.”

Although if she allows parents a lot more flexibility, it’s often a lot more complex for her to benefit from the same flexibility. 

In fact, when others can organize their schedules to work early in the morning, or late at night whilst the kids are asleep, it’s not always a conceivable solution when you’re managing thirty people daily. Coralie must be available to her team during regular hours, which has required a lot of adaptation. 

Working from home with a young child

What she misses the most? “The ability to switch my brain and concentrate solely on my work. In the Ludia offices, I can devote my entire energy and concentration to my work. When you need to also take care of an 18-month old at the same time, it changes everything. We realize that there are so many things we take for granted, and we’ll appreciate them so much more once we’ll be back in the studio. I also have a lot more admiration for my child’s caretaker, haha.”

So how does one organize themselves to manage their work as a video game producer and also care for their young child?

Coralie and her partner Romain, adapt their time management by alternating their work moments and moments spent with their little one. They try, to the best of their ability, to schedule meetings in function of each other’s agendas in order not to be both working at the same time. Does it always work out? Well, no, sometimes one or the other has the little one on their lap during a videoconference, “but everyone is really considerate and understanding in these cases”. We adapt!

In a few words, here’s how a typical day works out for Coralie:

7 a.m.: The little one wakes up.
9:30 a.m.: Nap time. This is where Coralie and Romain plan out their most important calls: VP production, Human Resources, Team Meetings…
12 p.m.: The little one wakes up and lunches are prepared (it’s crazy the time we spend just preparing food! When at the studio, we simply just stepped out to get a salad or sandwich – it’s the little things that we take for granted!)
Afternoon: It’s at this point that both really start alternating taking care of the little one. Certain days she’ll do another nap, but we’re never sure. So, again, we need to re-arrange our agenda’s in consequence and organize ourselves the best we can to ensure we can get some work done while being reasonably available for our teams.
6 p.m.: Already a new meal to prepare.
7 p.m.: The little one goes to sleep and Coralie and her partner start up work again. Planning tasks, meetings, defining objectives, and everything else that doesn’t require other teammates. 
9 p.m.: It’s time to eat and to relax!

“To be perfectly honest, it makes for long days, but we finally found a rhythm. Thankfully our daughter has really good nights, and generally stays asleep from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. the following day. In the beginning, we wanted so much to follow a specific routine, that would be the same daily, but that wouldn’t work. With a child, we need to go with the flow and take things as they come. If one morning I see that it really won’t be possible, I let my team know that I’m taking a day off. They all know what they must do, and  there is less pressure on me. The following day I can return rested and more readily available to them. It’s also leading by example. I encourage the parents on my team to do the same, our mobile days are there for a reason. And in emergency situations, everyone adapts. Again, we’re all doing our best, there is more magic recipe.”

Concluding words?

“My advice to parents: don’t try and be perfect, nor find the perfect routine! Take it day by day, be indulgent with yourselves and with your little ones. You are stronger than you think!”

“Also, my last piece of advice: take time off if you need it! Parent or not, don’t wait until you’ve reached your limit. Taking the day off from time to time to concentrate on yourself or your family without the pressures of work-from-home can make all the difference!”

Ludia ranked among Montreal’s Top Employers 2020!

Our commitment to the well-being of our employees was rewarded this year by being selected as Montreal’s Top Employers 2020!

A wonderful accomplishment!

Ludia is very happy and proud to be part of this ranking. More than a distinction, it’s an accomplishment that echoes all the efforts made in our studio to promote the well-being of our employees and allow them to have a good balance between their professional and personal lives. This encourages our desire to go even further, to offer the best possible work environment in order to carry out exceptional projects and to promote the development of our Ludians!

The criterias for an exceptional work environment

The Montreal Top Employers 2020 ranking is based on a list of precise criterias that reward the most exceptional work environments in the Greater Montreal area! These are divided into 8 distinct categories:

 (1) Physical work environment;

(2) Work atmosphere and social aspect;

(3) Health, financial and family benefits,

(4) Holidays and free time;

(5) Dedicated employee communications;

(6) Performance management;

(7) Training and skills development;

(8) Community involvement.

Ludia was able to meet these criterias with some of the highest scores to make it into the final rankings! But our studio distinguished itself more specifically around these 3 reasons:

  • Along with three weeks of starting vacation allowance, Ludia is supportive of employees spending time away from work with paid time off during the winter holidays (up to five days) as well as up to five paid personal days off, which can be scheduled as needed
  • Ludia lets everyone share in the company’s success with profit-sharing and year-end bonuses, and also offers generous referral bonuses for employees who help recruit friends (up to $5,000 per successful hire)
  • Ludia’s head office features a number of onsite amenities and perks including unlimited breakfast goods (bagels, English muffins, raisin bread), fresh fruit, a fully stocked employee lounge (video games, pool table, a tiki bar and personalized beer on tap known as “La Ludique”) and free membership to an onsite fitness facility

For more information on Ludia’s selection, have a look here : https://reviews.canadastop100.com/top-employer-ludia

Drawing dragons with Dreamworks

CREATE DRAGONS WITH DREAMWORKS

Working with licenses in the video game industry can be a complex topic: a formidable source of opportunities for some, a creativity brake for others. One could agree that there are as many reasons to work with licenses as there are existing brands and studios.

But how does it work at Ludia? How do we work with our licenses? Do our artists feel constrained in their creativity? A quick feedback from Philippe, artist on Dragons: Titan Uprising.

Philippe

Working hand in hand

After studying art and animation, Philippe joined Ludia 4 years ago and has since worked on exciting projects with Dreamworks, such as Kung Fu Panda and Dragons: Titan Uprising: “I am responsible for the artistic design of the games and visuals”, says Philippe.

How does it work in practice?

Well, for the Dragons: Titan Uprising game for example, the Ludia Game Designer may need a new dragon. This is where Philippe comes in. His work consists in imagining and drawing the dragon including the research phase, sketching, adding texture, final drawing, colorimetry: everything is well thought through. Philippe collaborates with Dreamworks throughout the whole process to bring this unique universe, its dragons and characters to life.  They share the visuals, make live comments and are in constant touch until the final validation.

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