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Astraware was established in the year 2000 by David Oakley and Howard Tomlinson, who have been creating games for handhelds and other platforms for over 20 years. The UK-based game studio creates and publishes games for a wide range of smartphones and other devices, and caters to more mature audiences than the average gamer.
It all started when the duo began programming for the Palm Pilot. They shot to popularity amongst gamers after the successful launch of Zap!2000 that introduced people to game in revolutionary grayscale and then colour on the Palm platform for the first time. This validated market for their games more than ever before, and they went on to build a slew of casual games that users loved.
By 2008, the team had grown to 20-strong in size, the company had gone through an acquisition, and also had many active products in their roadmap. In 2010 the founders decided to get things back under control and begun to work on games for the newly announced Barnes & Noble NOOK devices, working on a range of word games - crosswords in particular - to keep the ship sailing. Today, the two-member team handles everything from design and development, business and marketing to customer support for Astraware. They continue to create awesome games for NOOK, Amazon Kindle, and iOS and Android tablets and phones.
David and Howard and the other members of the small team at the time took care of responding to questions from customers, and often fielded bug reports, purchase related questions, and dealt with feedback about games themselves. Every time there was a new game release or an update round the corner, there was a surge in the number of messages they received from active players around the world. This is fine in the short term but takes its toll, reducing the amount of time available for new development.
The team even built a bespoke system, but that became a project itself drawing away time from where it was needed.
A simpler solution of using a shared Gmail mailbox seemed to work for a while, but questions often got buried in the deluge or were lost, leading to unhappy customers.
“Customers are usually happy when we resolve their problems, Freshdesk just allows us to get to that point faster.”
When it was time for the team size to be back to just two, David and Howard started looking for a functional support system that would take the pains away from managing communication with users, so they can just focus on what mattered to them the most: developing more enjoyable games for their enthusiastic user base.
With a little research, David found Freshdesk. For an indie game development team like theirs, the basic plan with three agents free forever seemed to be perfect. The founders tested Freshdesk by feeding data from their customer feedback form embedded in their games and were impressed by the ease with which they were able to respond to gamers and handle issues. It took them a day to set up Freshdesk initially, including adding FAQs for their games and categorising them.
Integrating Mobihelp, Freshdesk’s in-app support SDK, made a ton of difference to how quickly their users received answers. More than 90% of questions get resolved right within the game, since Astraware is now able to embed FAQs inside their applications. With the trove of associated data that Mobihelp sends back along with each ticket (the app version, devices, OS version, plus app-defined data such as in app purchases they’ve made), David and Howard no longer have to go back and forth with customers to nail down the reasons for crashes and issues. Most problems get resolved with the first reply, and customer frustrations are rare.
The founders also greatly leverage reports to find out suggestions and praise about a particular game, and can also quickly get an overview of which subset of users have been waiting for a certain update. Freshdesk also supercharges their productivity by making it easy for them to do a ton of things that they may have had to do manually if they were just using email. From automations that take care of mundane tasks like closing tickets, to the ability to track issues by product, customizable canned responses, the founders now have a great ticketing system in place to handle their customer communication in less than an hour a day.
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