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Cook Serve Forever's announcement splash, deconstructed

Who wants to cook forever?

[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.]

Well, it’s midweek madness over here at GameDiscoverCo HQ. We’re shaking off a slight cold, trying to deal with frantic pets as the water company digs up the street, and squinting quizzically at the mass of game discovery news flooding our vision.

Cook Serve Forever: modeling a big launch splash?




Some of you may have spotted that Vertigo Gaming just announced Cook Serve Forever, the fourth (aha, clever title!) in the long-running Cook Serve Delicious cooking sim series that creator David Galindo has worked on for a decade now.

The CSD series is now up to a million units sold across the three existing games. And GameDiscoverCo thought it was interesting to look at how Vertigo positioned this fourth game reveal for success, by pursuing a multi-point promotional campaign.

So we caught up with Vertigo producer Erik Johnson, and he explained all the things the team did at the same time to ensure maximum discovery interest:

  • A Steam ‘Daily Deal’ on announce day: Erik notes that getting a discounted version of the CSD Trilogy featured by Valve “was absolutely critical to our success.” Not only did it bring in around $30,000 gross revenue, the top banner and ‘Wishlist Now!’ widget on the bundle page heavily cross-promoted the new game.
  • An early trailer, blending tease & gameplay: it’s still early, and “the gameplay is all alpha right now, in terms of the mechanics and the food.” So what to do? Play up the game’s plot in a good-looking animated trailer (see above), somewhat of “a wonderful inside joke” for fans because the original CSD had no plot at all, and the franchise now has “weird lore” all over it. But still put gameplay at the end.
  • Voice actors integrated into announce promotion: David & Erik wanted to make it clear that any promo from voice actors is a bonus (not why they were hired!) But Elspeth Eastman’s and Emme Montgomery’s reveal that they are voicing the (also visual likeness-adjacent!) lead characters in the game clearly helped fire up their fan bases, and beyond.
  • Masses more Steam cross-promotion: since players regularly visit all the other CSD Steam pages, there’s widgets for Cook Serve Forever, plus Steam news stories when allowed (Valve sometimes reclassifies these, I think sequels should be allowed overt crosspromo), and Steam capsule icons mentioning the new game. Oh, and specially arranged third party widget cross-promo with Bakery Simulator - clever.
  • Kitfox (and friends) Steam festival appearance: a lucky coincidence, but Erik says: We're friends with Kitfox Games”, who saw the announce and said “We're running a festival starting tomorrow and we have a friends section..” that Cook Serve Forever could be in. A great example of how friendly peer connections can help.
  • Media coverage: interestingly, nobody really picked up the announce ahead of time when offered. But they were happy to write up stories about the game in real-time, given the franchise’s profile and social media buzz. Some good mentions, too: in Eurogamer, in RockPaperShotgun, and in IGN South-East Asia, among others.

In addition, of course, there were “big pushes on Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, and TikTok” for the announce, though Erik notes: “TikTok absolutely tearing it up for CSD3, but we haven't had that big pop yet for CSF.” In time, no doubt.

The result? Cook Serve Forever was wishlisted more in its first 36 hours than Cook, Serve Delicious! 3?! was in its first month after announce. The game has 8,000+ Steam wishlists a week after being revealed (not bad!), with 4,200+ of them arriving on day one. Here’s a Steam wishlist graph to illustrate:

https_3A_2F_2Fbucketeer-e05bbc84-baa3-437e-9518-adb32be77984.s3.amazonaws.com_2Fpublic_2Fimages_2F5d287272-70ff-48d6-8446-153c4e87b490_867x354.png

As for longer-term plans? A demo of Cook Serve Forever may appear in the last Steam Next Fest of 2022 or the first one of 2023, with Early Access release to follow sometime fairly soon after that.

Overall, we think this is a good example of a game with an existing fanbase being well-organized with an announcement. It’s rare to see an indie franchise with this many sequels. (Titles often shift into GaaS and DLC updates, instead of launching brand new titles.)

But if you’re going for the sequel angle, ‘announce ASAP and loudly with some gameplay’ is a key mantra for success - mission accomplished!

[We’re GameDiscoverCo, an agency based around one simple issue: how do players find, buy and enjoy your premium PC or console game? We run the newsletter you’re reading, and provide consulting services for publishers, funds, and other smart game industry folks.]

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