Mavens: How to build and maintain community trust?

Welcome to the February edition of’s regular Mavens group. If you’d also like to join the discussion, please contact [email protected]

Following the recent criticism around SkyArk, Valhalla and AOFverse, we asked our ensemble of industry experts how you can maintain reputation and the trust of your community, particularly in a bull market?

Sam Barberie – Head of Strategy and Partnerships, Horizon Blockchain Games

Fostering consumer trust is a must when dealing with the hypervigilant gaming audience, who will loudly suss out any action they feel impacts their play time, spend, or status. But the recent spate of controversy arising from web3 gaming projects adds an unfortunate reality that’s unique to web3 games: users who see themselves as investors, whether or not they’re players. This is an issue for every game that launched a high-priced, pre-release collection or a token. I caution developers that those 1k-10k speculators are now your bosses, forever. No studio has been able to prove at scale that they can both keep these investors happy and rich while simultaneously building for 1M+ happy gamers. 

For developers that do want to go with this early investor crowd, transparency is a must, and it will likely come with sentiments that the typical speculator won’t love, but are 1) imperative to avoid securities law and 2) vital to a future that includes the masses, not merely the degens. Promises of riches or decision making power are a big no-no. Promises of early access, of special but tangential benefits in-game or “behind the scenes” are good. The requirements illuminated by the fallouts from Valhalla, AOFverse, SkyArk and others are not merely that developers need to be hyper-specific and hyper-limited in their pitch (and ultimately hyper focused on real players) but also do deep due diligence to understand whether these users are of value relative to the risk to the future of the game, the company, and its community.

Mike Levine – Founder, Mystic Moose

The easy answer to this would be “under promise and over deliver” but as in most cases in web3, nothing is that simple. Even if devs do their best to control the narrative, speculation can still run wild. And this is where things get tricky, as many projects equate that speculation to hype around their project. “What Floor Price?” is still a thing, whether we like it or not. 

In the end, trust and reputation come from keeping open communication with your community and delivering on your promises. Once trust is built, most communities will become very loyal to a project. But like relationships with people, trust is something that must be maintained. It’s an ongoing relationship.

Canaan Linder – Founder and CEO, Stardust

Maintaining trust and reputation as a web3 game is essential, and your community is everything – an indicator of your immediate and future success.

There are 3 ways to establish trust with a community; communicating the vision for the future, regularly providing updates, and consistently providing value and engagement. Examples of success in web3 gaming with strong communities include Pixels, Shrapnel and Midnight Society which have excelled by engaging in weekly community calls, frequent play tests with community members, and hosting events. The strong community trust in these projects is evident through ongoing social media discussions, live streams, and robust NFT sales, underpinned by the founders’ transparency and active community participation.

The concept of “building with the community” extends beyond web3 to include traditional games like Runescape, World of Warcraft and League of Legends, which have long maintained active community engagement through Reddit and Discord. Web3 gaming elevates this interaction by enabling true ownership for players in the games they love, highlighting the increased importance of transparency and community trust in this next era of gaming.

William Quigley – Co-founder, WAX

The best way to maintain reputation is to build a great product and a great community. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to control the market as web3 is subject to bear/bull market swings that are outside of any project’s control. However, by being transparent with your community and aligning the interests of the project with the interests of the community, reputation and trust can be maintained.

Ben Cousens – Chief Strategy Officer, ZBD

Whether in a bull or a bear market, maintaining trust is always the same: don’t promise impossible things, build with the goal of creating real value, create businesses based on actual business models, not dreams, and actually do what you say you’ll do. At the very least, don’t mislead your audience with non-existent new funding rounds!

The thing is, people like believing in fantasies, like getting rich playing games. And even though the blockchain gaming projects of today are promising less crazy things than those of two years ago, they still tend to be a bit out of touch with reality when you look at how far those companies actually are as businesses. In business, you can only enable people to earn money if you are earning more yourself. This is not an impossible thing – we do this sort of revenue sharing model all the time at ZBD for over a million gamers all over the world. 

You do need to have a solid foundation and actual business model first though. And, of course, not overpromise. I feel that’s what we’re still seeing – businesses that have a plausible idea, but not an easy one to actually materialise. So they tend to rely on hype to get customers in and projects off the ground.

Aron Beierschmitt – Co-founder, Laguna Games

After over 2 years of live operating a web3 game I can say that transparency rules everything. Playing the hype game works until you fail to deliver on a community expectation. In a space that is still rife with fraud and “rug pulls” players are not willing to extend trust easily. 

Our approach at Crypto Unicorns has been to preview upcoming releases and announcements with our community as early as possible to begin warming them up to changes. The projects mentioned (and others that weren’t) all did a very poor job of communicating the details and were focused on surface level hype. That is a recipe for disaster as the reality of what they are delivering can’t live up to the hype (particularly for pre-TGE projects). 

I recommend that projects work with their community and bring them to the table as early as possible. It is a long process as trust is not easily earned in this space. 

Sergio Reyes – Chief Strategy Officer, Blackmouth Games

Transparency is key, ensuring clear communication of project details and changes. Robust risk management and security practices are imperative to protect digital assets and user privacy, including auditing smart contracts by reputable parties to mitigate vulnerabilities. 

We’ll prioritise community engagement through open communication channels, allowing users to voice concerns and receive updates regularly. Educating the community about the risks and benefits of web3 technology and NFTs is crucial for building understanding among all types of players. Our commitment to quality and innovation in game development remains steadfast. Upholding a user-centred approach and excellence throughout the development process demonstrates our dedication to delivering exceptional experiences such as the one we’re currently building up with Domenation.

Alexander Goldybin – Founder and Chairman, iLogos

Earning reputation and trust is a challenging feat and easily lost, making it one of the key success factors for any business.

My response is quite straightforward – avoid any actions that could undermine the community’s trust. Uphold the highest level of integrity in everything we do. Refrain from making empty promises, steer clear of dubious paths, strictly adhere to our plan, and fulfill our promises.

While this may sound simple, implementing these principles is far from easy, especially in the web3/crypto market, where rapid fluctuations are common, and the environment can quickly shift from extremely hyped to negatively pessimistic or even toxic.”

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