This post originally appeared as part of Chartboost's quarterly Power Up Report which, this quarter, focused on the impact of influencer marketing on mobile games.
Video personalities, or influencers, are the new stars of the gaming scene. Fans gather to watch them play mobile games online, streaming live as well as recording for later viewing on platforms such as Twitch, Mobcrush and YouTube.
YouTube stars like PewDiePie (who earned $4 million from his YouTube channel in 2013) get a lot of press attention, but even smaller personalities can have a big impact on a mobile game’s bottom line. The more people see a game being played enthusiastically on YouTube, the more likely they are to download that game, which translates to more users playing—especially highly engaged users who spend.
Genre matters, however. Not all games lend themselves to being watched on the internet. Here, influencers discuss what types of games and gaming mechanics are best for the hot new marketing strategy.
In-app purchase perks
Matthew Chase started posting mobile gaming videos on YouTube three years ago under the channel name iChase. He started with shooters like Respawnables, Modern Combat and Critical Ops, but he also makes videos for Clash of Clans and Clash Royale, the well-known multiplayer mobile games from Supercell.
Even though many gamers like to complain about free-to-play mobile games, says Chase, they tend to download and play them more than pay-to-play games. This trend gives gaming influencers like himself a unique opportunity.
“People want to see stuff in the game that they don’t have,” he says. “So if I make a video showcasing something in the game, people get to know if they should invest money in that game to get the same perk.”
High replay value
Seth Sivak, CEO of Proletariat, is convinced that streaming games is a new genre unto itself. He calls them “stream-first” games, and his team—fresh off of hit mobile multiplayer game World Zombination—is creating their first stream-first game right now, called Streamline.
Sivak thinks that in order to be stream-friendly, mobile games should focus on having high replay value. If there are multiple ways to “beat” a level or dominate in a multiplayer setting, viewers will come back to see influencers try different things.
Competitive and cooperative multiplayer games
Games that do the best for YouTube creators and streaming broadcasters tend to be those that allow for competitive and cooperative play with others. Single-player games do well enough the first few days of streaming, but don’t offer enough unique scenarios to keep viewers coming back for more.
“What makes a free-to-play game good, that people actually want to play,” says Chase, “is that it has to have social settings.”
These can include such things as chat features, the ability to create clans with friends, leaderboards and actual multiplayer gameplay—whether that’s competitive (playing against other users) or cooperative (teaming up into clans or fighting AI opponents as a team).
These features allow for a wide variety of video content approaches, from tips and tricks videos to involving viewers in the actual game stream.
Francisco Albornoz, also known as TheGameHuntah on YouTube, has had big success creating videos for games like Slugterra: Slug it Out!, a match-three puzzle game that utilizes a children’s TV show IP. He’s also seen success with titles such as Star Wars: Commander and Transformers: Earth Wars.
Albornoz believes that while strategic multiplayer features are critical to the success of any streaming mobile game, it’s also possible to find an audience with a single-player game if it’s tied to a strong IP.
“A game without multiplayer can be successful if they add a strong story behind it,” Albornoz says. “That can allow the influencer to create a special bond with the characters and keep the audience entertained.”
If multiplayer games are popular, customizable content within those games make a YouTube video or live broadcast even more fun to watch. Games with decks of digital cards—like Hearthstone—or those with various bases to defend—like Clash of Clans—are popular gaming video destinations because they allow YouTubers and broadcasters to teach viewers how to best utilize the customizable content.
If a given viewer’s specific deck or base configuration is used by an influencer, so much the better, Sivak says.