How The Walking Dead App Slays Push Notifications
Push notifications are special. At least in my world, unless I think I might really want to hear from you, you do not get permission. It’s like moving someone from in-dating-app messaging to real-number texting territory. It’s a level-up on intimacy. You have to have a level of certainty and at least some degree of trust before you’ll open up that space in your world. Just as phone numbers can be blocked, app push permissions can be turned off with just a couple of taps and swipes; and, like the world of dating, it requires a set of very special qualities to create an ongoing push notification sender/recipient relationship.
Why The Walking Dead: No Man’s Land gets a place in my permissions
They don’t overdo it
I haven’t ever gotten more than a handful of push notifications from The Walking Dead in a given week, which is exactly as many notifications as I do (and don’t) want to get.
I’m not a big gamer, in general. I don’t play the game every day, or even every week. The less I play the game, the fewer notifications I seem to get, which makes me feel like the app is “listening” to me. They remind me they’re there, without being too in my face. They don’t take advantage of or overstep their bounds within the parameters of the privilege I’ve granted them.
That said, at times, I do get two notifications at once. Usually identical messages sent 1 or 5 or 15 minutes apart. Perhaps I’m in their MMA twice, or perhaps they’ve experienced some sort of send error. Either way, it’s a touch annoying. Not so annoying as to make me quit receiving push from this app, but I could get there if it persisted.
Here’s what they get right.
They make me laugh
I have no idea what “mullet time” means, but I can tell you this: I want in!
As a fan of the Walking Dead TV show, I know that “mullet” refers to a specific character, and I assume that the app has brought this character to life in some way in the game. But you don’t need to be a fan of the show, or even an expert at the game, to be amused by this notification.
The task of moving through an apocalyptic universe slaying the undead is serious business. It’s nice when the game doesn’t take itself too seriously.
They treat me like an insider
By “dear survivor,” they mean me. I’m not just a user or an observer or a player or a potential source of income. As a survivor, I’m part of this intricate and layered world they’ve created. It triggers a desire to fulfill a certain obligation in the context of this game: to return to the app to help rebuild society.
Their messages are relevant to my interests
The world in this game is vast, with myriad layers and levels and worlds and side-worlds and tertiary tasks. It’s good to know when a new one has opened up. This push is uncomplicated. It’s a fairly standard notification, but it works. It meets me where I’m at, as someone who’s moving casually through the game.
They want to make sure I get my free stuff
In this game, gold is currency, used to buy things like supplies and level ups. Gold can be purchased with real money in the app, and if you’re intent on moving through the game with any swiftness, it makes sense to buy gold. If, like me, you’re not in any particular hurry, you can wait for coins to replenish overnight, or for moments like this, when free things are thrown your way.
Ostensibly, the giving away of free stuff diminishes the game-maker’s revenue potential. But they do it anyway! It’s a good faith play to keep gamers coming back—one that worked, in my case. This push is a perfect example of two-way communication. It only wants to give.
A nice, balanced push strategy
The Walking Dead mobile game knows what they’re doing with push. They make push palatable through a combination of employing humor, creating the impression of having an insider status, and offering the player gifts without asking for much in return. Most of all, they don’t overstep or overstate or over-intrude. Their messages are short, pithy, and focused, and for these reasons, I keep them around.