King is a leading mobile game developer with over 200 titles and over 268 million active users a month. Founded in 2003, King works to build its games, including Candy Crush and Farm Heroes, with a unique and passionate company culture. In 2016, King was acquired by Activision Blizzard Inc. and operates as an independent company.
Functioning as primarily support based, the King community was seeing low engagement and retention rates; additionally, their custom build wasn’t delivering the brand experience they were looking for.
Looking to provide their members an experience worth experiencing, King chose Vanilla based on our technical expertise and our ability to customize anything and everything.
From day one, King’s confidence in Vanilla’s technical expertise meant that they weren’t worried about the migration in the slightest—and they were right. It was smooth and easy.
King’s use of Vanilla gamification helped them see an immediate bump in engagement. They immediately saw a 145% increase in posts and a 100% increase in super user contributions.
In 2018, King knew that their community was in need of a serious buff. It was first launched in 2014 as a custom-built support-based community, but by 2018, King was ready for an upgrade; their community just wasn’t cutting it. As the Associate Director Player Community, Graham Henderson explains, “it just wasn’t good enough.”
Staying true to the King philosophy, try, test and learn from your experiences, King had no regrets about their first four years of community. ‘Experience’ had been the key take-away, and now their direction was so candy crushin’ clear that even Tiffi couldn’t help but turn her frown upside down!
With their heads held high, King was ready to turn the page and begin a new chapter, starting with finding a forever home for their community.
One of the biggest issues that King faced with their previous community was engagement.
Since their previous community was support focused (the only prompt to action was “ask a question”) and didn’t have the mechanisms needed to encourage retention, King wasn’t able to achieve the thriving and vibrant community they were looking for.
“So,” Graham explains, “it wasn't engaging, the retention was incredibly poor and it was incredibly difficult to know what was going on from an analytical standpoint as well.” He continues, “if you add up all these issues, it’s a lot. We needed an entire overhaul: a full platform change, a strategic change and an operational change.”
And so, with their experience belt strapped on tight, King began the search for a new community provider that could make their vision a reality and deliver a community experience as sweet as their games!
As a support community operating with an agent-based model, engagement was low and so was member retention.
King wanted to get better analytics from their community, which was difficult to do with their previous platform.
The ability to customize was limited, and as a result, it was difficult to incorporate Kings brand personality into their community.
Basic things that a community should be able to do, such as merge threads, was not possible under their previous platform.
Based on their experience, King knew what they wanted. Now came the challenging part that all Kings embrace wholeheartedly: searching for it and actually finding it. Challenge accepted.
Ultimately, their grit was quickly rewarded and they’d narrowed down their choices to two options: Vanilla and, for the sake of anonymity, we’ll call them “Option 2.”
Now, King values quality. They value putting the ‘player’ first and delivering an experience worth experiencing. When it comes to the companies that King choses to work with, the mentality is no different. They look for companies who put quality at the heart of what they do and deliver an experience.
That’s why, in the end, King chose Vanilla.
King’s final choice to crown Vanilla as the victor, however, went beyond a quality assessment. The gamechangers were immediately apparent once King sat down to chat with us.
As Graham says, “I think [the final decision to go with Vanilla] was based on two things. We were looking for a company that had a personality that matched ours. One that valued creativity, innovation and had our build things yourself attitude.”
The second factor was the people factor; King wanted to work with like minded and friendly individuals who knew their stuff. “The Vanilla staff was incredibly knowledgeable on a technical standpoint,” Graham says, “that was the biggest difference [between the two options] that I noticed straight away.”
King knew that Vanilla was the right choice, and they couldn’t have been more confident in their final decision.
“With Vanilla, we’re able to use our own designs for gamification elements, like badges - that’s something we really value.”
“The Vanilla ideation is great! We now have a way to categorize player ideas, see which ones are the most popular, and then discuss the top ideas with the developers.”
“We were looking for a company that was willing to take on some new ideas to make our community highly customized; a company that would say, ‘we’ve never done that before but we’ll try and work it out for you.’”
“The conversations we had with Vanilla were a lot more friendly [than Option 2]. It felt natural and didn’t feel corporate or forced; we really liked that. The culture at Vanilla suited the culture at King, so it just felt right.”
Migrations are usually a stressful time for organizations, but King was certainly one of the few that embraced this challenge without even a second thought; they were so close to getting the community they’d always dreamed of, they could taste it!
King had the utmost confidence in their choice to make the Vanilla switch, and this confidence was equally matched by Vanilla’s migration team.
As expected, the migration was both easy and smooth, and Vanilla proved that King’s confidence was justified. As Graham puts it, “the migration went incredibly well and it was managed very well by the Vanilla team.”
King was especially impressed with the oversight and project management shown by Vanilla when handing the migration. “We were speaking multiple times a week, there was a project plan in place, there were timelines in place, and we felt good asking questions and getting answers.”
It was a clutch performance to say the least.
King knew that they were going to be seeing much better results from the moment they signed with Vanilla, however they didn’t expect to see them so quickly!
King saw an increase in member engagement immediately, which was one of their primary goals. As Graham notes, “people are posting more, people are consuming more pages, new users are more likely to post - all our numbers have gone up!”
Further, the relaunch of King’s superuser program under Vanilla was a huge success. King was able to harness the Vanilla gamification features and customize their entire community, including the leaderboard, badges, profile avatars, and reaction options (Insightful, Sweet!, Hehe) to reflect the vision they’d wanted since day one.
With such a fun brand and personality, King transformed their community to something that fans instantly fell in love with. As Graham says, “Vanilla has helped us to easily bring out the King personality in our community, which was so difficult to do before.”
The increase in engagement has also led to a decrease in support ticket volume. Kings new peer-to-peer community enables crowd-based support, and members are more than happy to ask and answer questions. Think of the badges and points you could earn!
At the end of the day, King had a whole bunch of amazing ideas, and Vanilla helped them make these ideas a reality.