Over the past few years, those in game development are facing some pretty tough competition. As more game companies start to branch out and create their own products, it seems as if the video game marketplace is saturated with new content being pumped out every single second.
So what does this mean?
Well, for one, it means that mediocre games are going to have a lot harder time standing out in the eyes of gamers, as there are just too many other options for games to play. And secondly, even if you have made a great game, marketing that game and growing your user base is becoming (and will become) more difficult as time passes. Luckily, there are a number of growing platforms that all game developers need to be aware of to properly market their games and spread their word via social transmission.
Now, we can't tell you how to fix your game if it's broken/mediocre. That's up to your feedback to let you know. However, we can tell you about how to make use of those growing platforms we mentioned to kick start your sales and spread your word. This post, in particular, is going to focus on a platform that we feel has the most potential for your marketing efforts: Twitch.tv. If you haven't heard of Twitch before, we'll give you a short rundown: It's a site where millions of people go to watch other people play games. In other words, if you have a target audience in mind for your game, Twitch is the place to find that audience. Over the past few years, Twitch has grown to be a massive platform, even being acquired by Amazon. So massive, that over 241 billion minutes were streamed to the platform in 2015 alone.
Now, If you've dabbled a bit into new age marketing, I'm sure you've heard all about the wonders of influencer marketing for your brand. However, you might not have realized that the greatest influencer marketing platform for game developers has been right in front of you this whole time. So in this post, I'm going to shout off some reasons of why we think that Twitch should be a strong focus in the minds of every game developer looking to promote their game. Let's get right into it:
The connection between streamer and viewer.
On Twitch, the connection between the viewer and the streamer can allow a targeted ad to perform with much greater results than if you were to target cold players. Reason being, people are more willing to listen to someone that they have a relationship with. Picture this scenario in your head:
Imagine you're walking down the street in the middle of the day when suddenly someone comes up from nowhere and taps you on the back. You turn around, face this unknown person, and ask, "hey, what do you want?"
The unknown individual responds with, "you should really try this new game, World of Warcraft! It's an awesome MMO experience with intense leveling and tons of depth. Give it a try!" Confused, you stare blankly at the individual as they run off after spouting a quick promo for their favorite game.
Now, later in that same day, you're hanging out with some friends playing a card game or watching TV. During a break, your friend asks, "Hey, have you played World of Warcraft? It's a really awesome game. You should try it, we can even play together sometime if you'd like."
Think for a moment; if both of those people were representatives for World of Warcraft, which individual suggestion would you take more to heart? Chances are, you're going to listen to your friend. Why? Because you trust them since you've known them for a long time. You see, on Twitch, when a viewer has been a fan of a streamer for a long time, the connection between the two is very similar to the connection between two friends. With the ability to chat directly with one another, talk about your favorite games, and more, there isn't much of a difference. However, with a blind advertisement on a website (even if it's in a community directed towards gamers), the experience will feel much like the first encounter with the unknown individual. Don't be that unknown individual. You can even try a platform like PowerSpike to easily get in contact with a ton of popular streamers to get you started.
Advanced social transmission.
When talking about games, there isn't a better place to spread the word about a new game than Twitch. If we think about the fundamentals of what makes products or services catch on, there is one big reason that can be contributed to the success of a game or product: Social transmission. If people have the ability to talk about your game and share it with others that they know, the rate at which your game will spread will be infinitely greater than if they did not.
When every single user on Twitch can see a streamer that is playing your game, the chances of users socially transmitting your message goes through the roof. Furthermore, with the ability to talk and chat with others directly about the game their favorite streamer is playing in the Twitch chat, that will only reinforce the decisions of some players to try your game. Think about it this way: In a regular social setting, you might have the opportunity to suggest a product or game to your group of friends. This group might range anywhere from 3-10 people. However, on Twitch, this group of friends can range up to 40,000 at once, or even more.
Feedback gathering through Twitch chat.
When you first release a new game, you probably don't have many users who are actively playing your release. And when you don't have many users, it can be hard to extract feedback from those users. You may get a few steam reviews here and there, but it's not much information that you can use to improve your game or change it based on what your players want.
However, with your game being broadcast to Twitch, you can directly observe the opinions of thousands of people in real time as their favorite streamer plays your game. On Twitch, voicing opinions for most users is a thoughtless action. If they like something in the game or think something is really cool, you're going to see a flood of "PogChamps" in the chatroom. However, if users don't like something about a game or feel that a certain aspect is ridiculous, you're going to hear about it. Not only can you collect the mass opinions of your target audience through the Twitch chat, but you also can gather feedback from the streamer themselves. A lot of the time, while a streamer is playing a game, they're going to give bits of information on whether they're enjoying the game that they're playing. And even if they don't give that information, you always can observe the reaction of the streamer while playing certain parts of your game.
Ability to target micro influencers.
In business, and in game development, there's a good chance that your target user base or player base is not going to be the entirety of the PC audience or console audience. Unfortunately, we just can't get lucky enough to have everyone want to play our game. But don't fret! On Twitch, there are countless communities that are centered around any game genre that you can think of.
For instance, if you've created a game centered on pixel art and dungeon crawling, you have the ability to work with streamers who play Binding of Isaac or Rogue Legacy. Furthermore, within these niche communities, the audience tends to be much more engaged and interested in games similar to the ones that they love playing and watching themselves. Therefore, targeting this audience is a lot more effective than simply listing your game under the "Indie" section on Steam or somewhere similar.
Traditional ads just aren't as good.
Now, throughout this entire post, you might have been thinking to yourself, "Why don't I just use traditional advertisements? It's probably cheaper anyway."
You may have even tried posting advertisements on other sites centered towards gamers. While in some cases these ads can perform well for specific target audiences, there's one thing you need to understand when working with gamers in particular: This type of audience isn't going to be affected by traditional ads. Most gamers nowadays range in the 12-30-year-old range. A large majority of that audience is considered to be millennial. When you think about a millennial audience and advertisements, the two just do not mix.
Think about it this way: If you're watching your favorite TV show or game on Twitch, and you're hit with an advertisement, which option are you more likely to perform? a) Sit and watch the entire ad b) Open your phone and browse social media until the ad is over, or just exit the page all together We would go as far to say that 90-95% of everyone in your target audience is going to go for option B. According to Daniel Newman of Forbes, "Millennials communicate with each other far more than any advertising campaign can. When trying to figure out whether something is worth buying, millennials will go to their friends and social networks to see what people think. They use this collective filter to sort out research and other word-of-mouth style information when making decisions." (https://www.forbes.com/sites/danielnewman/2015/04/28/research-shows-millennials-dont-respond-to-ads/#b3631bc5dcb2)
Furthermore, the target audience that you're working with is most likely quite experienced on the internet, and knows their way around the block. What does that mean? Well, to put it simply, a great majority of users who are on the internet for long periods of time have AdBlock. If you're not familiar with AdBlock, it's a plugin that makes all of those traditional ads you've spent money on disappear. Ad Block is especially prevalent on Twitch today. A large majority of users even boast about having the option to skip when a Twitch partner runs ads, simply because installing AdBlock is so easy and effortless. However, when working with influencers, you don't have to worry about whether your ad is being blocked or paid attention to. If the streamer is playing your game, that's what the viewers are there to watch. And that's all for now!
A quick note before we go: This is far from the only advantages of using influencer marketing to promote your game. In fact, it's one of the most blogged about topics that you can find in the marketing niche online. To save some space, we didn't throw in any of the basic reasons that influencer marketing is a great tool to leverage. If you'd like, check out some of these posts to find out why others are such a fan:
~Love It Or Hate It: Influencer Marketing Works - https://www.forbes.com/sites/danielnewman/2015/06/23/love-it-or-hate-it-influencer-marketing-works/#3336223a150b
~Why Influencer Marketing Will Explode In 2017 - https://www.forbes.com/sites/ajagrawal/2016/12/27/why-influencer-marketing-will-explode-in-2017/#7406742220a9
~11 Essential Stats for Influencer Marketinga - https://www.ion.co/11-essential-stats-for-influencer-marketing-in-2016