Posted by: markfender | May 22, 2013

How to Use Social Media

Malifaux is coming out with a Second Edition! And I am tentatively excited!

MalifauxLogoMalifaux is a game I’ve wanted to like for quite some time. I have the first couple of books for it. It’s super-deformed version of Deadlands isn’t the most appealing thing to my tastes, but the miniatures are generally good and I liked the smaller skirmish scale, emphasis on scenario-play, and characterful mini rules. And I’m all in favor of breaking away from dice for all our random resolution methods in games. Unfortunately, a lack of time to play, having no job, and generally unbalanced play that killed the local scene, I’ve been sitting on the sidelines of this game for awhile.

But, a Second Edition could be cool. It’ll have balanced rules! It’s going to have an open playtest! It’ll make the game cool again! I’m excited!

Unfortunately, my demand for Malifaux information cannot be met. Searching their forums turns up very little. There are a few pictures of upcoming art on Twitter. Instead, the Wyrd Games crew decided to do a “Podcast tour” of all the Malifaux podcasts to drop hints about their new direction and the changes to the game. Which is a terrible way to convey information. Listen, I have a podcast. I would be excited to have a “get” guest like someone from Wyrd come on my podcast and share new details. But it’s a terrible way to spread information.

Podcasts are not for sharing information. They’re for building rapport. Podcasts create fake conversations and conversations are how we, as humans, become invested in other people. Podcasts are great for building and maintaining community. It’s cool if the Wyrd Games people want to go on podcasts to share their love of the game with other fans. That can only make their community stronger. If you want to build community, get a podcast. Start a Youtube channel. But don’t put information that will sell your game in those.

If you want to share information, you put that in print. People don’t want to wade through a conversation they may not be interested in to find out facts. Write facts out. Start a development blog. Put it as news on your site. Pin a forum thread. But, if you want to sell your game, you need to type reasons someone might be interested into a keyboard and put it online somewhere. During the Malifaux RPG Kickstarter, the developer was sharing long Youtube rambles about the development process. But there were lots of them and there over an hour each. I’m sure there might have been something interesting in there, but I’m far too busy to listen to you ramble your way into four sentences of sellable information. TYPE THAT SHIT OUT. (It goes without saying, but this information should also be accessible. One of the goals in the Malifaux announcement was to have an updated FAQ with the phrase “No more searching the forums for rulings.” Oh my God, you weren’t already doing that? Onyx Path is also pretty terrible at that, seeing as how I’ve seen at least three separate threads on various forums asking them to please collate their spoilers for the new Vampire: the Requiem book into one place. And then, when the developer did so, she forgot some. Great organizational skills, there.)

If you want to keep your hype at a fever-pitch, turn to Twitter. Up-to-the-minute sharing can cause a whirl of activity if managed right that keeps the community interested and excited. New art, pictures of products arriving in the warehouse, and various other regular occurrences can keep people checking your feed and invested in the product. You want that community to develop rapport elsewhere (forums, podcasts, in person, etc.) but you can keep them hooked on the most up-to-date information on your Twitter. But, please, don’t share actual spoilers that everyone is interested in. Only your most devoted fans are following you on Twitter. They don’t need to be sold on your game. They’re already heavily invested. People wanting to find out if this game is for them are not going to dig through your Twitter feed for tidbits on your game. They’re going to go your webpage and click around. They’re not interested in hype yet. (Yet.)

Wyrd Games isn’t new in not knowing how social media works. It’s a problem in the gaming sphere generally. So, I’m not specifically picking on them. I’m overjoyed that they’re going onto fan created podcasts and engaging with their community. I look forward to the open playtest as well as their RPG coming out soonish. But I would like to know more than I do about these products. Their methods of selling me are actively fighting against my interests. Every social platform has a strength and a weakness. So far, Wyrd Games is doing a damned good job at targeting each medium’s weaknesses.



  1. There have been some comments along those lines on their forum as well, that people would have liked to be able to read it instead of listening to it. It happened to work for me because I listen to podcasts at work and I listen to most of the Malifaux ones anyway (there is a lot of them, especially for a young/small game). The information is typed out, but its been done by fans. Had it been video on the other hand I’d been annoyed too. I hate watching videos, I can’t do it at work and at home I don’t have the patience to put up with it, so I’ll just not bother. Similar with news, I read a lot of news, but even if its an interesting story if its a video report I’ll skip it.

    Its quite interesting though because I don’t actually think the wyrd forum is the centre of the community. At least over here in the UK it seems to run at least as much on the podcasts and via Twitter. Although that’s probably helped by us being smaller than the US and so a lot of people know each other and will meet up for various events.

    I actually thought you were going to mention Eric’s latest blog post(one of the original designers of Malifaux as that caused quite some controversy and annoyance, at least in the twitter community. It haven’t really seemed to make it to the forums. Really badly worded, especially just before a public beta. If he had replaces the words lie with bias it would have been fine, unfortunately he didn’t. So while he is correct, he also managed to upset people with it. Now it was on twitter and people have calmed down again so we are back to normal levels of DOOOM! that you get with any edition change but I thought that was a good example of badly managed public relations. Even if it is his private blog rather than a company one he is never really ‘off’.

    • I had not read that blog post by Eric, but I honestly don’t find it all that shocking. A little shortsighted to be posting right before you’re about to start a public playtest perhaps, but not anything that crazy. And he did use the word “bias” throughout, only going with “lie” in his title and opening paragraph so it just sounds to me like blog writing (All the “experts” agree that your title needs to be shocking in order to get clicks). But from a PR perspective, yeah, maybe not the smartest move.

  2. Oh absolutely, he is spot on with what he is saying, he is just using a poor choice of word to do it with. I saw several otherwise calm and level-headed people get quite angry/offended by the words used. Combined with the timing I thought it was a good example of how not to use social media, if blogs count. Also interesting, but possibly wisely, that he didn’t comment on all the twitter discussion afterwards.

    Another interesting thing will be how they handle communication during the play test and how they manage expectations. We only have about 4 weeks and with a Gencon release, so the scope of changes possible are not going to be nearly as big as some people are going to want. So there are going to be some angry people on the forums.

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