Here at Clever Endeavour Games, for our recently launched title Ultimate Chicken Horse, we depend highly on content creators to help spread the word about our game. Content creators in this case refers to people recording gameplay videos on YouTube, playing the game on Twitch, etc.
What I wanted to write about today is how we went about getting videos from some of the biggest names on YouTube (Pewdiepie, Markiplier, JackSepticEye, SeaNanners, etc.). Someday, hopefully soon, we'll do a proper write-up about the direct effect those videos have on sales. For today however, we'll keep it more general and talk about how we actually reached those people.
Before we break it down, I'd like to debunk a quick assumption: we didn't get those videos from direct contact with these content creators, because we've never actually had that contact.
Approach only those who might actually play your game.
Above are two YouTubers, one of whom only plays Clash of Clans and the other who is playing Call of Duty. Why would we approach either of them to talk about Ultimate Chicken Horse? Well, actually, the one on the right is Ali-A and is more of a variety streamer, and we would look into what kind of stuff he plays before sending the game / our pitch. If you send your game to people who would definitely not play it, you're being spammy and people don't like that. Word spreads in their community just like it does in game dev! Think before you send.
Personalize your emails.
Make your emails out to an actual person. Even if some of it is copy pasted, at least write their name and why you think they might like your game. Don't batch email with the recipients in "bcc:" because people know that's what's happening. And for the love of any and all gods, if you need to email to a list, don't email to the whole list in the "to:" field.
Start with the smaller YouTubers / Streamers.
People who "do YouTube" as a living are aware of the content that's out there. The small ones are following the big ones, the big ones are watching the smaller ones for new content. There are a couple of reasons for following this piece of advice:
1. The smaller channels will listen to you, will read your email, and will often respond.
2. Word spreads both up and down (in terms of content creator size / following), so if enough smaller folks are playing, the big ones are likely to see it.
When I talk about "small" by the way, what I mean is somewhere in the 50k - 500k subscribers range or so, for YouTube. On Twitch it's much harder to tell how big the following is but I'd still say around 10k - 200k is small enough to start. I think you should always give codes to content creators if they ask for it as long as they're putting out decent content on a regular basis, but I don't think it's worth your time to go searching for people with 400 subscribers.
Engage with the community(ies).
We try to leave comments on most YouTube videos, and the response from the communities is really great! People don't expect that the developer will actually be there, and when a YouTuber sees a back and forth between one of their community members / fans and the developer, it earns some respect in their eyes.
I figured a picture of an angry mob was better than a friendly one, even though these tend to be quite positive interactions :)
On Twitch, it's nice to hang out in chat and to do giveaways if you feel it will help you. Streamers really appreciate it! Of course don't kill yourself to be up at 3am when someone in Portugal is streaming, but do what you can.
Here's an older video of Markiplier playing, in case you were curious to see!
That's all for now, feel free to put your own strategies or ideas in the comments!