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Letters: Customer service and community management in online gaming

Dear Mr. Fahey:

I was pleased to see publish Dale Munk's excellent opinion piece "The Biggest Threat to Online Games" on the importance of customer service. I can only agree with Mr. Munk that poor treatment of customers has often outweighed good content in the online game industry. However, I think Mr. Munk may be over-stressing the importance of the technology component of customer service, at the expense of the underlying human factors of community management and player relations.

Even a perfect technology infrastructure cannot protect a subscriber base from the churn caused by self-inflicted wounds such as badly managing communities, mishandling griefing behavior, and disregarding player expectations. If infrastructure is the backbone of good customer service, community management is its nervous system, providing feedback loops to and from front line customer service and the decision-makers in design. And correctly applying the techniques of community management is the critical success factor in determining whether a game slips into oblivion or grows into a successful, long-lived service, as is illustrated by the turnaround of Anarchy Online (see this study).

With kind regards,

Alexander Macris
Chief Executive Officer
Themis Group, Inc.

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Rob Fahey: Rob Fahey is a former editor of who spent several years living in Japan and probably still has a mint condition Dreamcast Samba de Amigo set.