'Star Wars Battlefront 2' controversy teaches key customer engagement lesson
For those who stay up to date on the gaming world, you may have heard about the public relations disaster Electronic Arts caused with its handling of "Star Wars Battlefront 2." This game allows players to participate in battles from the Star Wars universe either in single player or in online matches. Fans, however, got into an uproar when they found out that in order to unlock characters such as Darth Vader for multiplayer, they would either have to play 40 hours or pay a small fee. Players later discovered that the game was littered with these microtransactions. Reddit users in particular were not happy, such as LegoDamask.
The company attempted to respond to this complaint on Reddit by saying it wanted to "give players a sense of accomplishment." Their response was the most downvoted comment in Reddit’s history. The kicker to all this drama was, all this went down a few days before the game launched, thus a lot of potential customers canceled their preorders. Eventually, EA backed down from their initial stance, announcing the removal of all microtransactions from the game a mere 12 hours before the game launched on Nov. 17.
All of this mess could have been avoided if EA had just asked for customer feedback from the start, using tools such as social media and digital signage.
Digital signage isn't just for pushing advertising messages, it can also encourage customer involvement. What if, for example, EA had deployed multiple in-store kiosks that allowed users to play the game. After they completed it, they would get a chance to complete a survey asking them how they felt about it. Or, what if EA ran a DOOH campaign asking for users' feedback on what type of content they would like to see in the game.
By encouraging feedback from all your communication portals, including digital signage, you can boost customer involvement and your brand image. When you value customer input, you create a brand image of trust and openness with your audience.
Take advantage of the crisis to repackage your messaging
In times of crisis, it can be tempting for brands to just hide and avoid contact with critics. However, what if companies saw crises as an opportunity to rebrand? What if EA ran a DOOH campaign that advertised a new character for Battlefront 2 as a gift for its customers that downloaded a QR code and took a short survey? While it wouldn't heal all wounds, it would help boost customer goodwill.
When your company goes through a public relations crisis, it needs a fresh message, and one way to do that is with digital signage.
You can test out new messaging on displays by integrating analytics to see how customers respond to your messages. Do they, for example, stick around longer or run away sooner when they see your ad?
If EA had been better at engaging its customers, it could have avoided this fiasco. In this era of instant communication, you must interact with your customers and discover their needs and wants.
Digital signage is just one way to accomplish this, as long as it's used in tandem with analytics, social media and other communication tools.
Bradley Cooper is a Technology Editor for DigitalSignageToday.com. His background is in information technology, advertising, and writing.www