How to Create Game Alerts

How to Create Game Alerts

Game alerts play a critical role in enhancing a player's gaming experience. They act as a communication channel between the game and the player, providing real-time updates, notifications, and in-app messages to guide, engage, and entertain players. Game developers understand that user experience is paramount in today's competitive game market. Local notifications, push notifications, and in-app alerts are more than just simple text messages: alerts can significantly improve the user experience and enhance engagement. Notifications can create a sense of urgency, provide useful information, and even act as a marketing channel for the game.

What is a Game Alert?

A game alert or game notification is a message or signal generated by a game that aims to communicate crucial information to the gamer in a timely and effective manner. The information can vary widely and includes updates about a player's status, achievements, in-game events, or even promotional content. The primary goal of these alerts is to enhance the gameplay experience, increase player engagement, and contribute to the overall success of the game. They can also be used for onboarding new players and guiding them through the game's features and mechanics with timely popups and tutorials. Game alerts work by sending real-time updates to players. They are typically delivered through local notifications (in-app messages), push notifications, or SMS, and are designed to catch the player’s attention without disrupting the overall gaming experience. Game alerts can be delivered on various platforms, including mobile apps on Android and iOS, PC games, console games, and even browser-based games. There are essentially three ways to display alerts to your user:

  • Foreground: These alerts are displayed while the player is actively playing the game. They are most helpful in informing the player of another activity while they are doing something else within the game or when an achievement is unlocked.
  • Background: These alerts are for when your game is in the background or minimized. Background alerts notify the player that they have a missed notification, message, or that the match is ready.
  • Closed: These alerts are for when your game is completely closed. Typically most used by mobile games via Mobile Push Notifications, they are designed to bring players game to the game, such as informing them that their resources are refreshed, they received a new message, or an in-game event is about to begin.

Types of Game Alerts

Game alerts have a unique purpose to contribute to the overall gaming experience. Here are some common types of game alerts:

  • Achievement Alerts: Achievement alerts notify players when they have achieved a significant milestone in the game. For example, completing a difficult level, unlocking a rare item, or reaching a high score. Achievement alerts serve to recognize the player's efforts and encourage further gameplay.
  • In-Game Event Alerts: In-game event alerts inform players about time-limited events or special activities happening within the game. This could be a seasonal event, a special challenge, or a limited-time offer. These notifications create a sense of urgency and can drive players back to your game.
  • Player Status Alerts: Player status alerts provide real-time updates about the player's status. This could include resources, inventory status, or progress in the game. Status updates keep the player informed and can help them strategize their gameplay.
  • Promotional Alerts: Promotional alerts are primarily used for marketing purposes. They inform players about new game updates, promotional offers, or upcoming features. Promotional alerts are especially helpful for monetization.
  • Social Alerts: In multiplayer games, social alerts notify players about their friends' activities, new friend requests, group invitations, and more. These alerts foster a sense of community and encourage social interaction within the game.

Each of these game alerts plays a vital role in enhancing the gaming experience. However, their effectiveness largely depends on how well they are implemented and their relevance to the player's gaming journey. For instance, in the popular mobile game "Clash of Clans", achievement alerts are used to notify players when they have successfully upgraded their town hall, unlocked a new unit, or won a clan war. These alerts not only provide a sense of accomplishment but also motivate players to continue playing the game. Similarly, in games like "Fortnite", in-game event notifications are used to alert players about the arrival of new seasons, special challenges, or limited-time events. These alerts create excitement and anticipation among players, increasing engagement and player participation.

Why Build Game Alerts?

The gaming industry is highly competitive, with millions of games available for players to choose from on various platforms. To stand out, game developers need to invest in features that enhance the player experience, drive engagement, and foster loyalty. One such crucial feature is game alerts. Game alerts offer a host of benefits and significantly contribute to a game's success. They enhance player engagement by providing real-time updates and relevant information, creating a more immersive and interactive gaming experience. Game alerts also promote user retention by keeping players informed about new features, special events, and achievements, encouraging them to continue playing the game. Here are some of the benefits of including game alerts in your game.

  • Increased Player Engagement: Game alerts provide real-time updates and notifications about the game's status, player's achievements, and upcoming events. This keeps the players engaged and encourages them to spend more time playing the game.
  • Improved User Experience: Game alerts enhance the user experience by providing timely and relevant information. They help guide the player through the game, provide tips and tutorials for new players, and create a sense of achievement and progress.
  • Enhanced Monetization: Game alerts can be used to inform players about in-app purchases, special offers, and premium features. This can encourage players to make purchases, thereby increasing revenue for the game.
  • Increased Player Retention: By keeping the players informed and engaged, game alerts can contribute to increased player retention. They can remind players about the game, encourage them to continue playing and foster a sense of loyalty.
  • Improved Social Interaction: In multiplayer games, game alerts can foster a sense of community and encourage social interaction. They can notify players about their friends' activities, new friend requests, and group invitations.

One example of how game alerts have positively impacted popular games is the mobile game "Candy Crush Saga". The game uses game alerts to inform players that their resources have been replenished, new available levels, and special events. These alerts keep the players engaged, encourage them to continue playing, and have greatly contributed to the game's success. Special events and sales help drive monetization success, ensuring that players continue playing new content.

How to Build Game Alerts

Creating game alerts involves several steps, from understanding the needs of your players to selecting the right tools and technologies for your game.

  1. Understand your players: The first step in creating game alerts is understanding your players' needs and preferences. Analyze your game's metrics, player feedback, and other relevant data to identify what kind of alerts would be most beneficial and engaging for your players.
  2. Design your alerts: Once you know what kind of alerts you want to create, you need to design them. This includes deciding on the content of the alert, when it should be triggered, and how it should be displayed. For example, you might decide to send a push notification when a player achieves a new high score, or an in-app message when a special event is happening in the game.
  3. Choose your technology: There are several tools and technologies available for creating game alerts. For mobile games, you would use Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM) for Android devices and Apple Push Notification service (APNs) for Apple Devices. For desktop games, you will need to build a custom notification system in Unity, Unreal Engine, Godot, and most other game engines or utilize third-party libraries and assets from their respective asset stores.
  4. Integrate and Test with your game: Once you've chosen your technology, you need to integrate it with your game. This of course is the most difficult part of development. For mobile games, as stated earlier, you can utilize FCM and APNs to handle the transport and delivery of push notifications. You can then use your mobile platform's UI libraries to display these notifications at appropriate times and change the look and feel of the messages to fit your application's style. For desktop and web-based games, you'll need to utilize your game's UI libraries to display local notifications, based on certain conditions or time intervals.

While this works great for local notifications, the difficulty spikes for real-time notifications sent from a server to the device, such as for real-time updates, messages from other players, or events happening in the game world. You need to use a service that your game can connect to receive messages from a central server.

While you can certainly set up your own infrastructure for these features, you'll need a strong platform that needs to be able to scale to support potentially hundreds of thousands of concurrent players at a time, securing the content of messages to protect your players, and can send these messages with as little latency as possible. This infrastructure will take time, resources, and upkeep that can be spent elsewhere. This is where PubNub can help.

Getting Started with PubNub for Gaming Alerts

PubNub’s secure, low latent, and reliable communication network powers thousands of customers who depend on PubNub for their real-time communication infrastructure. PubNub's architecture is based on the publish/subscribe model, which means that a publisher (source of data) pushes messages to subscribers (receivers of data) via live-feed data streams known as channels (topics). These subscribers are immediately notified when new messages are published.

PubNub also handles push notifications with the same SDK that you would normally use to integrate your application with PubNub's real-time messaging. Normally, to utilize push notifications in your application, you would have to integrate the FCM and APNs frameworks into your application. This means that you’ll need to include the extra libraries, SDKs, and code handling for each type of device if you want to send push notifications, as well as update these frameworks when new updates occur. PubNub's Mobile Push Notifications feature bridges native PubNub publishing with third-party push notification services including FCM and APNs. The push gateway is a great way to make sure that you can send important data and messages out to users even when they're not active in your mobile application.

To get started with PubNub for gaming alerts, follow these steps:

  1. Create a PubNub account: The first step is to create a PubNub account. Visit the PubNub website and sign up for a free account.
  2. Create a new app: Once you have a PubNub account, log in and create a new app. You can give the app a name that relates to your game.
  3. Get your publish and subscribe keys: After creating your app, you will need to get your publish and subscribe keys from your Keyset. These keys are essential for sending and receiving messages with PubNub. Learn how to create your keys by following this guide.
  4. Enable Mobile Push Notifications: If you are not implementing mobile push notifications, you can ignore this step. To implement mobile push notifications in your application, you need to configure the necessary webhook and credentials settings for your platform. For our detailed guides for setting up push notifications with PubNub for Android and Apple devices.
  5. Integrate PubNub into your game: With your publish and subscribe keys, you can now integrate PubNub into your game. This involves selecting the appropriate PubNub SDK that matches that of your game or utilizing our REST API to make directly to our platform and following our documentation to setup the SDK and initialize the connection with your pub/sub keys.

The most basic connection setup is to initiate a publish call to send a message and then subscribe to the same channel to receive the message. A channel is the mechanism through which the data is transmitted from one device to another. In order to receive the message, you need to implement a listener to catch the appropriate event from the PubNub network. In this case, a message listener is based on the SDK you have selected. 6. Send a test message: After integrating PubNub, you can send a test message to ensure everything is working correctly. This can be done by sending basic If the message is successfully sent and received, your game is now ready to send real-time alerts. If you are having problems sending and receiving the message, the Debug Console is a useful tool to check any connection problems. 7. Create your alerts: With PubNub integrated, you can now create your game alerts utilizing your engine's UI libraries to display the alerts and notifications. You can send alerts based on certain triggers in your game, such as a player achieving a new high score or an in-game event occurring. For mobile push notifications, you'll need to ensure you are properly registering the device with the appropriate service provider. You can learn more about how to implement push notifications in general by following this guide.

What's Next

Game alerts play a critical role in enhancing the gaming experience. They provide real-time updates and crucial information, drive player engagement, improve user experience, and contribute significantly to player retention and game monetization. Using technologies like PubNub, game developers can easily implement effective and personalized game alerts, further enhancing their game's success. Learn more about how PubNub can help power your game with the following resources: