For developers who have launched successfully, the question is where to take things next? A studio will usually have a clear concept/roadmap for post-launch development, but when it comes to content development it makes sense to check that precious dev resources are going on the types of things that your players will most value. Getting feedback is usually straightforward, with most communities having vocal members, but the real challenge is to know if they are representative of your broader player base, and especially new players who you want to attract.
As with any market research, using multiple tools gives better results. Community feedback is golden, but can be biased to your most engaged gamers. Online reviews are great too, but tend to focus on current-state issues rather than future development. For games that enable modding there is a third way. Mods are great way to not just see the amazing things your community creates, but to understand which ones are most used and valued.
For example, a quick dive into MORDHAU page shows that maps are 18 of the top 20 mods (unsurprisingly!), but dig a little deeper and you get insights into play settings (e.g. random weapon allocation) and music tweaks (no lutes) that a lot of players are keen on, as well as a feel for what the most popular cosmetics are.
"There were tons of mods, nearly 4,500 to date, for Mudrunner, and I’m not sure I’ve even seen half of them in action. The modding community helped us understand the players to a great degree. At least, we could see which mods were favored by them and make some educated guesses at which things players would really like to see – which vehicles people were most interested in, what kind of addons they liked to see, that sort of thing".
Mods were also useful in explaining design concepts to the team.
"Some of the map mods were impressive to the point of being partly referenced when there was a need to explain some concepts to the level design team. As you might imagine, it can be a challenge to describe specific types of wilderness with just words or pictures".
So, there you have it! Modding doesn't just directly grow player engagement and numbers, it's also a way to inform your own development efforts. Which is just one more reason why we at mod.io are passionate about cross-platform modding.
Until next time.