How to get on the good side of media & streamers
Some things NOT to do - and one you should definitely do.
[The GameDiscoverCo game discovery newsletter is written by ‘how people find your game’ expert Simon Carless, and is a regular look at how people discover and buy video games in the 2020s.]
Welcome back, and to kick off this newsletter, thought I’d try to switch over to the marketing, outreach and PR side of discoverability for a change. (There’s only a certain amount of hard data we can all take before we melt into an Excel-based sludge.)
Game creators, streamers & the media - make ‘em happy!
Just spotted that Evolve’s Tom Ohle has a very interesting Twitter thread asking ‘content creators’ (streamers & YouTubers) and media folks about the game promo-related practices that devs and publishers should stop doing.
All kinds of good stuff in here. But picking out highlights, GI.biz’s Rebekah Valentine notes on the media side, correctly: “No staggered embargos. I hate embargos where someone else has three hours exclusive on me, because every outlet that wasn't offered the news up front will just write the news based on the original story and beat me to it.”
And streamer-wise, the massive YouTuber BRKsEDU (8.6 million subs!) suggests that having media embargos ahead of streamer ones can also cause a lot of friction. (He didn’t put this, but sometimes the media will stream the game as well, right?) So in general - think carefully about who gets to see the game when.
Elsewhere, streaming music rights also came up a lot in the replies. Streamer ecosystem person RedEyedMonster noted: “Stop putting licensed music in games if you want streamers and Youtubers to play them. With the current state of DMCA and [copyright] strikes, putting music you don't own in your game will only lead to fewer people being able to see it.” Being able to turn off third-party music in your game’s options is another suggestion made elsewhere in the thread.
I don’t know that you need to just stop putting all licensed music in your game. But understand your audio rights issues for YouTubers/streamers. One ‘failsafe’ dev trick is to upload gameplay footage to YouTube privately before release. You can see who tries to share ad revenue or even copyright strike the video, and why. (Hopefully you know the rights situation with your own music, but sometimes you might be surprised!)
Finally, here’s a good ‘start doing’. Twitch streamer/ex dev Ellie Joy Panic notes that “Having a set of gifs for social media is something I’ve seen more places doing and wish I got more! Trying to do a mini review thread on Twitter is dull as heck using the same four images and gifs.” Agree with this - GIF creation should be a part of everyone’s arsenal.
(Found this thread via Lizzie Killian’s video game PR newsletter, which is super handy!)
A call for your (wishlist? sales? other?) data!
Haven’t done this for a while, but I wanted to ask this newsletter’s readership if they’d be willing to share more sales/wishlist data with the community for your particular game.
Over the last few months, we’ve had some standout examples, including Academia: School Simulator being super transparent with its Steam sales:
…and more recently, detailing the pre-release wishlists for Riftbreaker on Steam:
(We also looked at Golf Peaks and the games of Bad Logic Studios, examples of other titles where we got full - or almost full - transparency into revenues. Doesn’t have to be a game that’s sold massively, either.)
We’re also just fine with partial transparency, especially if you can talk about relative percentages of total sales across various PC, console, and mobile platforms - as The Gardens Between did with us recently. (This doesn’t break rules on specific sales numbers, but gives everyone a general idea.)
Anyhow, if you’re into the idea, please reach out and we’ll talk about the best format to present it. (You’ll get to see the newsletter before it goes out.) The more people get to see data, the more they can understand what’s expected… or unexpected!
The game discovery news round-up..
There’s a lot of other things going on in the world of platforms and discovery. And I am a sworn member of The Video Game Discovery Society of New York (est. 1884, we have a private club and everything.) So I am duty bound to bring you these extra notes:
The ‘big F2P games launching on mobile/PC/console platforms at once and looking good’ locomotive finally gets to bullet train speed with the Chinese-developed Genshin Impact, which is just as good-looking and playable on iOS as it is on consoles. The folks at game biz newsletter Master The Meta just put out a bunch of good stats and insights into the partially Breath of The Wild-inspired game (pictured), which is notable because it shows “the rise of a new generation of Chinese game developers who are able to create fun, breakout hits for global audiences.”
Couple of Apple Arcade tidbits. Firstly, it looks like Reigns: Beyond is coming exclusively to Apple Arcade. Makes sense, since most Arcade deals to date were ‘very’ non-exclusive, probably more than they needed to be. Also, the upcoming The Pathless has some minimum system requirements that we’re probably going to see more of, as Arcade launches more sophisticated games.
There’s definitely going to be an iOS version of (Xbox) Game Pass, even if it has to use some of the browser-based workarounds that other cloud gaming services have been using, according to internal comments from Microsoft’s Phil Spencer that got leaked. Not a surprise.
People are getting around to playing the (many, many) games from the Steam Autumn Game Festival. Among many highlight articles, I appreciated RockPaperShotgun’s take on their top titles. But also wanted to highlight picks from John Walker’s Buried Treasure site, as well as a LOT of YouTube videos showing footage of games.
Sergei Klimov from Charlie Oscar has a Twitter thread celebrating the 5th anniversary of digital board game hit Gremlins Inc, which includes some interesting comments & stats: “Steam sales: 314K, reviews from Steam customers: 4.4K.. [all] DLC sales: 153K, roughly 50% of the core game's sales.. the total (player) audience is a bit under 700K. Our wishlist peaked at 140K and since then is drifting around 110-120K, no matter how many sales we run.. The game grossed about $2.5M lifetime… that's about $1.5M that we collected.”
Microlinks: a browser extension now warns you if a Steam game is also in Game Pass (hmm, no sales cannibalization, eh?); the Tencent-backed Antstream is a retro cloud gaming platform that might be one of those Amazon Luna channels soon; another ‘why Amazon hasn’t got games right yet’ article; and here’s a good New Yorker book review/thinkpiece on how we can pay for creativity in the digital age - focused on music, still relevant for games.
Finally, I applaud Fall Guys for continuing to understand that borderline troll marketing can be the most effective marketing (this time for the new Sonic the Hedgehog in-game costume):
[This newsletter is handcrafted by GameDiscoverCo, a new agency based around one simple issue: how do players find, buy and enjoy your premium PC or console game? We’ll be launching a ‘Plus’ paid newsletter tier with lots of extra info/data - watch out for it soon.]