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Speaker Spotlight: Helpshift and Keywords Studios on AI in-game support for happier players

Pocket Gamer Connects London is coming 23-24 January 2023. Time to meet some of the leading industry names that will be on stage at the event.
Speaker Spotlight: Helpshift and Keywords Studios on AI in-game support for happier players
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The leading games industry conference is almost here. Pocket Gamer Connects London is now less than two weeks away and what a line up of speakers we’ve got in store for you.

On January 23rd and 24th Pocket Gamer Connects hits home soil, returning to London for two days of insight sharing, and contact making interspersed with our world famous thought-provoking panels, seminars, keynotes and more.

There's limitless networking opportunities and our expert sessions are your chance to get up close and meet some of the biggest names in mobile games for what will be our biggest and best PG Connects London yet!

In the build up to the conference – and to give you a sneak preview of what to expect – we are spotlighting some of the authorities in the games industry that are sharing their wisdom. 

Helpshift and Keywords Studios help make looking after your audience easy. As games become more complex and options more varied, keeping your players engaged and happy becomes increasingly more vital. One snag, one disrupted play, one redirect to a support website and you could lose a player. And for a truly global launch the issue of providing support in multiple languages adds whole new layers of confusion and cost.

Helpshift’s system of in-game, multi-language support – helping players without leaving their game – solves all of the above. Helpshift recently became part of Keywords Studios and we caught up with the teams there to discuss the state of play and their upcoming sessions at Pocket Gamer Connects London.

Pocket Gamer.biz: Firstly could you each tell us a bit about yourselves?

Peter Gerson [top left]: I’m Senior Manager Global CX Solutions, Keywords Studios, creating and implementing global player support.

Dominick Kelly [top right]: I’m Localization Technology Solutions Director, Keywords Studios. My role is to roll out new and exciting language solutions to allow players to enjoy any game in any language.

Eric Vermillion [bottom left]: I’m CEO of Helpshift, leading our global strategy.

Samantha Pang [bottom right]: I’m VP of Customer Success and Growth at Helpshift, leading a team that supports over 450 customers globally.

Please give us a summary of what you’re speaking about and Pocket Gamer Connects London?

Peter Gerson: I will be speaking directly about how you can increase the value of your game with player support.

Dominick Kelly: I will be speaking directly about how the use of language AI empowers staff to work without any language barrier. Any and every game across all stages of its life... development, testing to players support requires language/localization to flow. I’ll be looking at how this impacts the player support function as now any support agent can manage any player support chat or email in any language.

Eric Vermillion: Player support is often forgotten or overlooked as you develop, launch and post-launch. Publishers are often left with long queues of frustrated people trying to get help, which is very costly both in terms of lost revenue and lost players.

Samantha Pang: I'll be speaking on the importance of in-app player support. Players keep your games running so not only is it important to think about the support experience you provide but also collect feedback early on, and continue to listen to your players. With the right tools and reporting in place, your support teams can organize the feedback and help guide and validate your LiveOps plans.

What’s the most common mistake you see being made in the games sector?

Dominick Kelly: The game sector is full of smart and driven developers and often the reliance or tendency is to build internal custom solutions. However, these highly skilled people are always in demand, often leaving to grow their careers. This leaves developers with internal solutions that are not maintained or scalable. They become a Frankenstein (where new bits are added to meet new needs) as key knowledge leaves. The common mistake I see is simply overreaching scope without long term investment in mind.

Eric Vermillion: Particularly during the development cycle and launch planning, companies overlook the need for player support. When it's done well, you have happy customers that spend money, promote your game and help you grow. When it's done poorly or as an afterthought, it becomes very costly. It's a scramble to try and figure out how to support players and in the meantime, they are leaving you, writing bad reviews and creating a situation that is difficult to recover from. Planning ahead costs very little in time and money, but it's often completely overlooked.

If you could give other mobile games companies one piece of advice, what would it be?

Peter Gerson: Listen to your customers, they have great insights to share.

Dominick Kelly: Stay agile, get comfortable with learning and failing fast. But always stay true to what makes your games work well and your players will love you.

Samantha Pang: Support should no longer be seen as a cost centre but a profit centre and a key to longevity. Player retention is key, and support is critical to keep your players in your game and loyal.

What is your biggest aspiration/goal in mobile gaming?

Peter Gerson: Building player support directly into all mobile games.

Dominick Kelly: I would like for any developer to be able to deliver their games in any language and support players regardless of the language they communicate in.

Samantha Pang: Ridding the world of bad customer service. Why should players be frustrated when they experience an issue with a game? When players receive fast responses and effective support, they can quickly go back to playing their favourite games.

What do you think the next big disruptor in mobile games will be?

Peter Gerson: How, via your mobile game you can participate in the metaverse.

Dominick Kelly: Metaverse and AI. With a new digital world and smarter machines it will be harder to know who’s human and what's not.

Eric Vermillion: Certainly the metaverse or some evolved definition of what VR gaming really is. If it's done well, it will provide us with a huge opportunity to effectively "gamify" really critical things like healthcare, education and professional collaboration. The gaming industry is so well positioned to lead this evolution because we understand the technology, the design and how to drive adoption.

What is the single biggest challenge facing the mobile games industry today?

Peter Gerson: I'd say the recession squeezing entertainment spend and the competition for the customers’ dollar.

Dominick Kelly: Security concerns regarding the data we use and how we use it.

Samantha Pang: Every single game is hoping to be the next big hit. But what do you do when you have to face sudden waves of growth and are not prepared for it? Games have to have the right infrastructure to be able to handle scaling, particularly at a global level, if they want to retain players and see continued growth long term. There should be forethought in player support, localization, and automation prior to launch to ensure success.

What developments do you think have been undervalued by the mobile games industry?

Eric Vermillion: How to make games more useful to everyday life. The pandemic forced us into isolation, but most people want the opposite of that now and so the real next generation of leaders are going to be the ones that figure out how to drive more social and always on/intertwined with daily life experiences. It's sometime easy to try and just iterate and make the last version just a little bit better and the gaming industry is exceptional at that - but figuring out how VR and AR and things like decentralization and blockchain will impact the experiences people want in 5 years is the biggest challenge in front of the industry today.

What key trend should we be paying attention to in the next 12 months?

Eric Vermillion: The evolution of the metaverse. Sometimes I wonder if we do our industry a disservice by referring to it as ‘gaming’. There is a digital revolution that we are on the front end of that will continue to gamify everything we do in our daily lives. And if the broader population thinks of gaming as something that is not applicable to everyone, that constrains us. I'm very proud of what all the amazing digital innovators in our industry do and the innovation that is on display here.

What do you enjoy most about working in the mobile games industry?

Dominick Kelly: The people are the best. Everyone wants to make the best game or find that new edge or hook to make players go wild.

Samantha Pang: The people and the fast-paced environment. Working with leaders who are not afraid to test new technologies and drive disruption.

Find out more about Pocket Gamer Connects London and get your tickets right here!