What is a super-fan? In the gaming community, it's a fan who enjoys the game in a way that transcends the casual. If you are a publisher, the more super-fans you have, the more likely your game will succeed. They aren't enough (you need casual fans, too) but cultivating them is essential. How does a fan become a super fan? They simply have to want to be. That's it.
Publishers don't define super-fans, they define themselves. While publishers can't define them, it is fairly easy to identify them through customer programs like organized play, volunteer programs, and fan clubs. Once you've identified super-fans, then it's time to take care of them.
- Recognition - This is the big one. Let your fans know, in as personal a way as possible, that you know them and appreciate the investment they've made in you and your game. It is both the easiest and most important thing you can do. Note that bribery in the form of free stuff is expected more than appreciated. Send the freebees, people do love it, but don't count it as recognition.
- Promos! - Super-fan only play, promotional items, web-content. This is tricky. The harder you make access to special content, the more special it will be. On the other hand, if you make it too exclusive, you won't get enough ROI to be worth the time it takes to create. Start small and build. It's always easier to add special content than to take it away.
- Geek ON! -Opportunities to show off. Anything that'll let a super-fan get his or her geek on is a good thing. It strengthens the relationship between you, them, and the rest of the world. Web 2.0 is the ultimate Geek ON! tool. Don't fight it. Grow it, love it and it will grow and love you back!
-Adam!!! (Battlebots super-fan)