Discover more from The GameDiscoverCo newsletter
Summer special: how devs should reach out to top YouTubers
Also: some exciting 'top Steam tag' numbercrunching, and lots of news...
[The GameDiscoverCo game discovery newsletter is written by ‘how people find your game’ expert & company founder Simon Carless, and is a regular look at how people discover and buy video games in the 2020s.]
We’re back, with the second GameDiscoverCo summer newsletter. Thanks for those who dug last week’s guest AI ‘interview’ as it was intended - a low-key AI shitpost (thx to Matthew Burns!) re: a very uncertain - but well-funded, to be sure - space.
Luckily, we only got one (1) piece of grump-mail over it. And we’re guessing we’ll get zero for this week’s guest contribution, which concentrates on something we think is tremendously important for discovery - getting influencers to play your game.
[PSA: get actionable info & talk to your peers via a GameDiscoverCo Plus paid subscription. This includes an exclusive Friday PC/console game trend analysis newsletter, a big Steam ‘Hype’ & performance chart back-end, eBooks, a member-only Discord & more.]
How to contact influencers: the Blitz edition!
We’ve written on how PC/console games talk to key YouTube/Twitch influencers before - from avoiding scam requests to interviews with Splattercat & with Devolver’s influencer strategist Clara Sia. (Also: some of the top indie game YouTubers.)
And now, very notable ‘variety’ gaming YouTuber Blitz (4 million subs, >5,000 videos!) recently put out a great Twitter thread on how you should reach out to him - and other content creators - with info about your game.
And we figured excerpting his words - which include a multitude of great points, some of which we’ve also made in the past - were a perfect guest contribution to our ‘chill’ summer newsletters. Take it away, Blitz:
“Dear Game Developers and PR Agents, I love what you do, I love the games that you're building and promoting. So let's talk about how to best contact us Content Creators to get your game featured on our channels.
First thing to remember is that it's our job to first entertain our viewers, second to pay our bills, and third to promote your game. We choose the games that we can create the best content on. Sending us 3+ emails to remind us about your game doesn't help, in fact, it annoys us..
So let's talk about how to properly send us an email. First step, understand the channel's audience. For example - don't send your VR game to a channel that's never made a VR video or don't waste your time emailing a horror themed channel with your cute Stardew-like game.
Secondly, promote your game, don't promote others. I've seen a lot of emails telling me "my game is like ABC and XYZ games, you'll love it" but actually gives no context of your game is like, you just make me want to go play the games you compared yours to.
Third, make sure you include a few images, and a link to your trailer and Steam page. There are WAY too many emails that include no information. I don't have the time to track down your game. For example:
Fourth, don't clickbait us. If you write "Steam Key Inside" in the subject line, actually include the steam key and not a dumb link to a Google form, Keymailer, or somewhere else to apply for a key.
Fifth, and this is an important one. Include the status of your game and an embargo time. Tell me that the game is launching in early access, or a big update is coming. Let me know when I can release a video. We want to help you promote your game at the right time!
Sixth, assume we know nothing about your game. Quickly give us some tips, and let us know any relevant information that we might need to record. (How long the tutorial is, is there heavy narration, is one character easier to learn?)
Seventh, if you want coverage for your game on release date or an update, make sure you give us time to record content. If we choose to play your game, we need a week minimum before your update/launch to produce a video. It takes a considerable amount of time to make a video.
Eighth, feel free to send a follow up email, just don't get spammy. If we played your game in the past, feel free to let us know when an update is coming. If you sent an email 2 months before release, go ahead and bump the email to let us know. We love the communication.
Ninth, use email, not social media. To me, there's nothing more cringe than looking at a developer's Twitter feed and it's 75 copy/paste tweets to content creators begging us to play a game. Most of us have our DMs closed too.
Tenth, stay out of our public Discord servers. Just stay away. Yes, it happens. No, it's not ok to ping the entire server telling them that you dropped an update for your game.”
And that, my friends, is a really useful set of guidelines - from somebody who clearly gets literally thousands of pitch emails yearly. As a bonus, Blitz also included a screenshot of the PR email that Raw Fury’s David Martinez sent for Dome Keeper:
As Blitz says, “It's pretty much exactly what we look for in PR emails. No bloat, quick and simple. Easy to understand.” And that, my friends, is how you do it...
What’s the top Steam ‘Hype’ genres, Top 5 edition?
Anyone who is a GameDiscoverCo Plus subscriber may know that we’ve made a page where we look at the genre and other tags of all 16,000+ unreleased Steam games, and then rank those tags by ‘median Hype score’.* (*Our estimate of pre-release popularity.)
What you might not know is that we do additional ‘cuts’ of this data - on-demand - for our regular publisher consulting clients. And we’re passing along an interesting experiment we sent them in their monthly Client Radar document, recently.
Basically, it goes like this: our normal look at the top tags/genres for unreleased Steam games takes into account all 20 Steam tags. But would you really trust a tag that is #18 out of 20, especially given that some of these tags are user-contributed, and some are developer-tagged? (And low-priority ones may be a little off-topic.)
So we custom-created another dataset, with just the Top 5 Steam tags - the ones you generally see on a Steam game’s front page - taken into account. And then we compared the two, across all unreleased Steam games.
Here’s the full ranking of the 95 Steam tags we consider to be ‘genre’-specific (Google Drive link), and here’s the leading ones, with a rank comparison vs. the ‘all tags’ view:
There’s a few interesting takeaways here. In particular:
Just using ‘Top 5 tags’ didn’t make as big a difference as we expected: you can see that things shifted around a bit. But in fact, only three games out of the top fifteen ranked genres/subgenres changed. And most of the median Hype scores didn’t change by much more than 10%. So there you go!
The exception: ‘survival’ looks way better in Top 5 tags than in ‘all 20 tags’: turns out that if your game is really a survival game, and not just ‘survival is somewhere way low down in the tag list’, it becomes a way more attractive subgenre to be in. (Median Hype almost doubles, from 24 to 44, and ranking goes from #19 to #4.)
Caveats over ‘none of these medians lead to a hit’ apply: a median Hype score of 160 (Open World Survival Craft, the top tag) will get you ~30 Steam reviews and ~1,000 Week 1 sales. And most genres here (Hype score 15) map to a median of ~100 units sold in W1, yikes. But that’s how the market is - crowded as heck, with plenty of semi-pro and non-pro games. You need to hit the top 5-10% to do well.
Still, this data is useful because, even if it does show ‘higher-effort’ genres like grand strategy & city-builder further up the charts (some of these genres being less suited for console, btw, another wrinkle), it gives relative results over a large, real data set.
And that’s worth knowing, we think. So we’ll keep going deeper. (One of our regular clients asked us to only group this data by games that had >1,000 Hype score, actually. So we’re looking forward to reviewing the results of that - yet another data view.)
The game discovery news round-up..
Looks like we have another bumper round-up of game discovery and platform news to peruse for the sole free newsletter we’re sending this week. So let’s get to it:
Over at Game Maker’s Toolkit, Mark Brown has documented the game engines used to make the 6,800+ GMTK Game Jam games this year. And that’s the open-source Godot breaking 1,000 entries for the first time (above), and getting further ahead of GameMaker. (Unity has been ~60% of total entries since 2020, though!)
A couple of new Steam announcements, if you missed them: an improved UTM referral tool has rolled out following the dropping of Google Analytics, so “you’ll see UTM campaigns start reporting conversions within 24 hours”; search has been improved in Steam Workshop “to prioritize the most relevant results, taking into account popularity and user ratings.”
According to The Verge: “At least one of our questions about the Sony Project Q handheld game-streaming device has seemingly been answered by a new leaked video posted by Zuby_Tech on Twitter… In it, a basic version of Android OS running on a plastic-wrapped device shows a simple menu system and a QR code.” Not the final OS presentation, but makes sense that the ‘wrapper’ might be Android.
It’s true: select Blizzard games are coming to Steam, starting with Overwatch 2 on August 10th, and notably, it won’t require the Battle.net launcher to play the game. (Though: “Players on Steam will still need to connect Overwatch 2 to a Battle.net account.”) But still, it’s a big deal from a long-time Steam holdout.
Microlinks: Sega’s president Yukio Sugino expects higher-end console games with a budget of $70 million “will become the norm” in the future; 69% of Russian gamers said they’d played at least one pirated game in 2022, and 51% said that they’re pirating more than they did in 2021; Epic Games Store is now running more editorially-written news, powered by Brian Crecente’s company Pad & Pixel.
Need ad inspiration? Did you know that you can now search TikTok ads - from European countries at least - via this official TikTok Ads Library link? (There’s plenty of PC/console ads to check if you search by company name - here’s some Bandai Namco ones.)
There will be data from the ‘FTC vs. Xbox’ trial to deconstruct for months. For example, here’s Xbox Game Pass subscriber growth from July 2017 to February 2020 from internal documents, with ‘key games added’ being layered in. (BTW, # of games in catalog leveled off, but subscriber growth continued.)
Gambling-adjacent news: UK trade association UKIE has “published 11 ‘industry principles’ surrounding Loot Boxes in video games”, trying to get ahead of any UK government restrictions in the space; looks like Roblox has some off-platform stinkers using Robux currency for gambling, like third-party website Bloxflip.
Need ideas for your Twitter/X* (*or another social network!) posts? Javi Romero was kind enough to compile 50 different concepts in one place, from “Post a trending meme edited with characters from your game” to “React to fan art of your game”. Sometimes we all need inspirado, right?
Roblox’s latest ‘our vision for the Roblox economy’ post is worth reading: it floats subscriptions as an upcoming feature, and jumps through some hoops to justify its cut: “an average of 76% of all spending in experiences supports or goes to developers.” (The actual revenue pass-through percentage going to devs is still <25%, we believe. But overall numbers are big: “In 2022, our creators earned $624 million.”)
Developer advocate Rami Ismail thinks some pitch templates might skew publisher-centric, we think. So he made his own v.useful one, “optimized for developers on their first or second game and focus[ing] on developers having the most opportunities to prove credibility and ability to execute on the idea.” Handy!
Microlinks: how game developer ‘collectives’ are faring as an alternative to normal biz organization structures; the ESRB is asking the FTC “to give its blessing to a tool that uses selfies to gauge a person’s age for compliance with children’s privacy law”; Hogwarts Legacy and Diablo 4 lead Europe's H1 2023 PC & console games charts (for GSD’s reasonably, but not super-complete set of data.)
Finally, as I just posted on Twitter: “After watching this great Tested video on The Earl Hayes Press (provider of printed material to Hollywood movies for decades) - discovered that they made 'dummy' video game magazines as props.” Look:
So, yes, we too are looking forward to playing *consult notes* Kymber, “the most popular game of the year”, after seeing coverage of it in… Mega Gamer Monthly magazine?
[We’re GameDiscoverCo, an agency based around one simple issue: how do players find, buy and enjoy your PC or console game? We run the newsletter you’re reading, and provide consulting services for publishers, funds, and other smart game industry folks.]