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This game used TikTok to get 120m views, 60k Steam wishlists!

And its Kickstarter hasn't even launched yet, folks...

[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.]

Welcome back, folks, to a brand new week navigating the architectural follies of the game discovery biz. Check out the surprising trends constructed just for you. And look, over there’s a garden hermit whom we pay to look weird. (Oh no, wait, that’s me.)

TikTok: lessons from Mortal Rite’s social success

A screenshot from Mortal Rite

So, we got contacted by Alex Estevan from Round Toast Studios, “an indie studio with 5 people working full time (4 developers and 1 marketing person, me).” The team is working on in-development 3D action RPG Mortal Rite, and Alex explained to us:

“We’ve already organically gotten over 120 million TikTok views, 640k TikTok followers, and over 60,000 Steam wishlists - even though we are still at least 6 months away from an Early Access release. We’ve done all this without spending a single dollar on paid advertising or marketing agencies.”

So of course we wanted to know more about that. And ahead of the game’s Kickstarter launch on Tuesday - alongside the first full gameplay trailer - he gave us a whole bunch of best practices. So - take it away, Alex:

“Firstly, here’s some stats on our TikTok account: Followers: 647,800; Total Views: 126,115,388; Total Likes: 14,376,435; Total Comments: 134,402; Total Shares: 123,877; Average views per day: 256,852; Total videos: 253; Average views per video: 498,480; Average Posting Consistency: 1 new post every 1.96 days; Total Steam Wishlists: 61,749.”

Alex also passed along a chart of Mortal Rite’s ‘daily TikTok Views to daily Steam wishlists’. As you can see, the game’s TikTok views are largely directly linked to their number of new wishlists:

A chart showing Daily TikTok views vs Steam Wishlists.

Alex mentioned that the ‘sweet spot’ for him was TikTok videos with high ‘Average Watch Time’, high ‘Watch Full Video %’, and high engagement rate. And as you’ll see, videos with both a) a dev’s face in them and b) subtitles are also best practices that are key to Mortal Rite’s success.

These are the particular types of videos that Alex thought worked particularly well with TikTok’s algorithms and viewers:

  1. Progression videos: “People love seeing your personal progress and success when working on something. Showing: ‘hey our first concept looked like this, and then we added color, and then we added this functionality, and now the final product looks like this’. These types of videos typically really encourage the viewer to stick with the video and watch until the end.” Example: this Mortal Rite ‘great wall’ progression TikTok has 8.5m views and 1.3m likes! (And this full progression vid did better!)
  2. Videos of things that are ‘half done’, and then asking the community for feedback: Pretty much every video on our page falls under this category a little bit. The main challenge is becoming okay with posting things that aren’t fully done or that don’t look quite how you want them to look… if someone sees you work start-to-finish on something and then the final product turns out really good, they are already a lot more invested - and will care more about your game!”
  3. Take something complicated about game dev, and make it easy to understand: If you are able to do this in an interesting way, people will feel like they’ve learned something new! It also helps the average player get invested in the intricate details of your game that they probably wouldn’t have normally paid attention to.” This Mortal Rite TikTok on creating a ‘secret area’ under the map for enemies to spawn is one example.
  4. Video replying to people’s suggestions or questions: “Obviously these videos usually require a lot of development, and can’t be made very easily. But if you see a comment of something you like and you know that you’ll eventually implement, take a screenshot of it, so you can reference it later.” Here’s an example.
  5. Videos that play along with trends. “Most videos probably take me about 3-8 hours to complete. However, a lot of videos that are trend-followers are typically much easier to make, usually requiring about an hour of work max. If you just search in the TikTok app for brand-relevant terms, like ‘game dev’ for example. TikTok will provide you with a list of videos.” Here’s two cute examples.

Intriguingly, the Mortal Rite folks also sometimes make general-interest TikToks about game news unrelated to their game - here’s two examples - to get people to pay attention and follow their page. That goes beyond what many of you would do, right?

But how do you get people off TikTok, and onto your Steam page or other media? Alex says: “This can be very difficult to do (only about 1 in every 2,000+ people who view a video of ours will go and wishlist it.) But here are some tactics that we’ve found help improve these odds.

  1. Have a quick ‘call to action’ at the end of your video. We have a little animation of someone adding Mortal Rite to their wishlist at the end of a lot of our videos.
  2. Talk directly about wishlisting, and say very openly: ‘Hey, this is a great free way to support me’.
  3. Have a link to your Steam page in your TikTok bio.

If you want to boost another one of your socials, let’s say a Discord server, making a video about someone in that community that did something cool is a great way to do that. Example: this TikTok got us about 750 new Discord members.”

So there you have it. Obviously, Mortal Rite will need to be a great game - in addition to expertly marketed on TikTok - to break through. But Alex and team are certainly going about it the right way so far! Much good luck to them…

[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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