Livestreaming PC and console games has become huge across video platforms like Twitch and YouTube, and it's spreading to mobile games.
Being aware of the market potential here, YouTube recently opened up its Gaming arm to make it much easier for everyone to livestream Android games.
Given that popular streamers are able to bring in thousands if not millions of viewers, anyone looking to get their game in front of peoples' eyes can't really ignore this move.
Or can they? We decided to ask our Indie Mavens what they made our livestreaming, particularly how useful it is as a marketing tool. This is the question thrown at them this week:
- "What's your opinion on livestreaming being a viable and perhaps even important part of marketing your games and building a community?"
It, of course, depends who will be streaming it.
Streaming by someone unknown, obviously, will produce zero to nothing effect.
YouTube and Twitch are definitely important parts of getting your game in front of people but the days of them being a "magic bullet" to instant success are already past.
For every story of "big name streamer played my game and I had a huge sales spike" there's a bunch more games being widely played but still not making huge money.
If I sound quite negative it's because there was a few years there where every article or conference talk on marketing games seemed to conclude that you just had to send out keys to streamers and the money would come pouring in when even at the time it wasn't that simple.
I just think people need to set reasonable expectations of how effective they'll be for their marketing push.Richard Perrin
My first boss told me that good marketing isn't about tricking someone into buying something they don't want, it's about getting your product in front of the people who do want it. That's where I feel some indies minsunderstand streaming.
Getting a YouTube video with hundreds of thousands of views of your game might seem like a victory but if that streamer's audience aren't into your type of game it achieves little.
Sadly this kingmaker-myth of streamers is everywhere. Even players are quick to say "why don't you just send keys to PewDiePie?". When of course every indie is sending keys to everyone they can so the result is over saturation like every aspect of the indie market right now.
Having said all that. I do love watching gaming streams and it's a big part of how I find out about games these days. Like any sensible indie I support them in any way I can. I just think people need to set reasonable expectations of how effective they'll be for their marketing push.
At tinyBuild, livestreaming has been a core focus for us for a while now. The key to having success with livestreamers is to not simply throw keys at them all and hope they play it, but rather, to give them something exciting that will actively make them choose to play your game over other games.
At tinyBuild, livestreaming has been a core focus for us for a while now.Mike Rose
For example, one of our recent games Party Hard had Twitch chat integration built into it, such that people watching a livestream of the game could type stuff into the chat to mess with the streamer.
This turned what is normally quite a passive experience for the viewers into a collaborative game, as they chose whether to help or hinder the streamer based on what was happening. In return, more and more streamers started picking the game up, and we saw incredible sales as a result, as many viewers then wanted to go and try the game out for themselves.
This sort of Twitch integration will be appearing in some form in most of our games from now on (where it makes sense of course), and we're already exploring more avenues for other livestreaming-based features we can have in our games.
If you're a dev who is not at least thinking about this kind of thing for your own game, you really should.
Beyond reaching out to streamers to play a game after publishing it, I've witnessed a lot of game devs getting mileage out of doing their own regular streaming.
Regardless of whether they are streaming development of their own game or capturing themselves playing other's games, this seems to go a long way in building a community of fans around them and their games. I
t looks like this is more effective for solo or small team devs who benefit from a personal relationship with their players. I'm pretty envious of folks that are able to make time for this and stick with it!
We've flirted with livestreaming, and host a session every month on our studio channel. It helps us personally connect with fans, get a sense of what they're curious about, and hopefully communicates the dev process.
As a procedurally generated game, I hope Moon Hunters will be particularly attractive for streamers to pick up and play after it's launched, not to mention some of the "choice-making" aspects, which may be fun for viewers to vote on in realtime.
I'm a little worried that streaming culture may ruin any attempt at secrecy during our beta, but... wish us luck!
I can't say I have much to add myself, but I got a comment from Lee Thomas, our marketing director:
As someone that watches streams for pleasure, and is also considering them as a marketing channel. I’m always asking myself what value can a particular streamer can add to your game.
I don’t believe the majority of their core audience is watching them for THE game, rather they’re watching for the streamers experience while playing A game.Dan Menard
The more successful streamers, and the channels I enjoy most, have a personality that sits above the game. The takeaway for me is I don’t believe the majority of their core audience is watching them for THE game, rather they’re watching for the streamers experience while playing A game. That experience is a performance.
I’ve watched streamers I like have terrible experiences with games I’ve really enjoyed playing. But I’ve also seen terrible games elevated by the streamer’s performance. So not only do you need to get a streamer’s attention, you also need to target the ones who will compliment your game.
The right game, with the right streamer could generate a compelling piece of content. But it’s not something I’m banking a marketing strategy on yet.
Sidenote: One notable experience I’ve had recently is watching, and taking part in, a streamer playing Quiplash XL from the Jackbox Party Pack. There’s an option in the game to protract the countdown for players to enter their answers. A feature there to allow for lag and delay in video streams.
The streamer and the Twitch chat audience were commenting on my answers in real time. it recreated the energy of local co-op perfectly and makes me think we’re just reaching the tip of the iceberg with the possibilities of this type of player/audience relationship.