[The GameDiscoverCo game discovery newsletter is written by ‘how people find your game’ expert & GameDiscoverCo founder Simon Carless, and is a regular look at how people discover and buy video games in the 2020s.]
Hey, it’s us again! This is the second of three scheduled GameDiscoverCo newsletters for the week, and the last free-to-all one until Monday. Just wanted to say thanks for all the pleasant comments about this newsletter recently, too. We really enjoy writing it for you.
The Northernlion (& other streamer!) effect…
We were recently reminded - via this Tweet from streamer Northernlion showing his complete game schedule during March 2021 - just how many games there are out there, and how tricky it can be to get featured by notable streamers.
So we thought it might be helpful to highlight some of our top ‘variety’ streamers. That’s those YouTubers and Twitch streamers who don’t simply concentrate on playing one or two games, all of the time. These are the folks who might actually feature your game on launch if it’s an intriguing new Steam release:
Northernlion has been at this a long time - I actually asked him to give a GDC 2014 talk on using streamers to market your indie game. With 860k YouTuber subscribers, a manic schedule (see above!), and a loyal Twitch following, he’s one of the most intellectually curious streamers for new titles. If he tries your game once, it’s useful, but a series (generally if you’re a randomized roguelite - Binding Of Isaac is his signature title) is *eyes bulge out* good.
SplatterCatGaming is an interesting one. Not only does he have 607k YouTube subscribers, he ONLY tries unique titles on his YouTube channel, so is a true 100% variety YouTuber - very rare. We previously referenced SplatterCat in our article on Nova Drift ‘taking off’. We’ve also seen multiple other wishlist graphs where he gave a good bump to games, even playing pre-release versions.
Wanderbots is another ‘frighteningly large amount of content’ streamer. He has 369,000 subscribers on YouTube, and enough interest in the space to do multiple Let’s Play series at once. Right now he’s doing multi-videos on Dandy Ace, Monster Train: The Last Divinity, It Takes Two and Monster Hunter Rise all at the same time. Wow. He’s definitely a streamer I see mentioned as a discovery driver.
Look, there’s a lot of other ones (too many to count!), and some of these folks concentrate on roguelikes that can garner repeat plays. But I’d also point you to Retromation, Rhapsody, and BaerTaffy on YouTube as streamers I’ve seen pick up a game and make a concrete difference to its popularity. (Do you have other streamers you think should be mentioned alongside them? Ping us and we’ll round them up in an upcoming newsletter.)
It’s worth noting - as documented in this Reddit post from 2018 - that ‘variety’ streamers are battling against one notable fact. Most players want to watch games that are… already popular: “All variety streamers… also know the woes of fluctuating viewership based on the game you play. People will wanna watch games they wanna watch, unless they truly stay for the person.”
So thanks to the above streamers for making the effort to play new/different games! And honestly, this is a tiny subset of the total streamer universe. SplatterCat’s video on Narita Boy (see below) isn’t even the most viewed of streamers if you look across all of YouTube - several non-English language streamers are doing even better.
To conclude: we highly recommend you search for streamers who have been playing certain games similar to yours. (Sullygnome has an easy way to search for this for Twitch, and you can search game names on YouTube.)
Then you can ping them about trying your title, with a personal pitch and Steam key already included in the email. This kind of targeted pitch may be manual and low-reward, but it’s absolutely worth attempting - who knows what might happen?
Day 1 to Week 1 Steam revenues?
As some of you may recall, back in November, we did a survey on median Week 1: Month 1 and Week 1: Year 1 Steam revenue - helpful if you’re trying to forecast worst and best-case scenarios for your game after launch.
But how about a game that’s just come out, like The Binding Of Isaac: Repentance, which launched today? How do we think it should have done from Day 1 to Week 1? (Actually, Repentance is a DLC, so I think its sale/review patterns may be different to a standalone game. But let’s just pretend it was a game all on its own.)
To try to work this out, I poked around some midsized standalone Steam titles I have access to (sorry, no specific names!) which launched around 8am PT. And found:
GAME 1: Week 1 = 2.8x the revenue of Day 1
GAME 2: Week 1 = 4.2x the revenue of Day 1
GAME 3: Week 1 = 3.6x the revenue of Day 1.
From this tiny sample size, looks like Week 1 game sales are often anywhere between 2.5x (if your launch buzz disappears near-immediately or you have a stellar first day) to 4.5x (if you get second wind or have a super chunky tail!) compared to Day 1. Hope that helps anyone who is nervous about trending after the first day on sale.
The game discovery news round-up..
Coming down the home stretch now, let’s look at some of the trends and announcements out there in glorious video game discoveryland. Starting with the following:
Over on Twitter, Stephen Totilo (formerly EIC of Kotaku, shortly launching an Axios games newsletter I’m excited about!) pointed out some slides (see above) from CD Projekt Red’s new investor presentation, accompanied by them saying: “When campaigns do start, we aim to properly manage expectations across all platforms... We'll also showcase footage of our games on all platforms that they will be released on.” Oh, expectation management and Cyberpunk, you say?
For anyone interested in the Steam games/sales that get picked by Valve and honored with the gigantic ‘above the fold’ banner on Steam, Al (Morwull on Twitter) is keeping a thread of screenshots for every single one so far this year. Most recently, it’s been the Remote Play sale, Evil Genius 2, and The Binding Of Isaac: Repentance. (It’s probably going to be Outriders next, right?)
Epic’s not done with appealing to everybody short of Judge Judy on the Apple anti-monopoly front, regarding being forced to use the App Store and Apple’s payment processing for IAP. So they’ve “filed a complaint to the United Kingdom Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in support of its investigation into Apple’s anticompetitive behavior.” Since these are worldwide services, it makes a lot of sense to go after this from as many different angles as possible.
Intrigued by this quote from Xbox’s Sarah Bond in a Forbes profile of Game Pass: “When you subscribe to a channel that enables you to watch a video, like Netflix, that’s kind of the end of the monetization cycle that you have with that piece of content. In gaming it’s the opposite: there are items that you can buy in the game, there are extensions you can buy, there’s a next franchise you can purchase, there are other genres that you can leap to.” Not sure I’d call it the opposite. But this is why larger, increasingly microtransaction-led publishers are relatively happy with Game Pass. And why GaaS-led games should survive any subscription disruption.
Using Patreon to fund your games (or game studio) has had mixed success - and generally only works for a small cadre of studios. This helpful Gamasutra profile on the trend talks to the devs of Paralives about their $41,000 monthly income from Patreon backers (the very high end of the spectrum!), while also checking in with Sokpop and the Dwarf Fortress crew, who have more modest incomes.
Microlinks: IGN on why digital game sales could ‘totally dominate’ physical game formats in a few years; recently made free on GDC Vault is Patrick Seibert’s super interesting ‘The ZERO Marketing Experiment on Steam: Launching a Game Without Telling Anyone’; the last newsletter’s linked tips on getting to the front page of Imgur immediately worked for the Tiny Thor developer, hurray.
Finally, we don’t generally link songs in this here newsletter. But ‘The Chalkeaters’ got Gabe Newell himself and original GLaDOS voice Ellen McLain to guest in a highly arch music video that’s pertinent to our interests.
It’s about why there hasn’t been a Half-Life, you know, the number after two. But lots of Easter Eggs and Steam = $ jokes in here too, gotta love it:
[We’re GameDiscoverCo, a new agency based around one simple issue: how do players find, buy and enjoy your premium PC or console game? You can subscribe to GameDiscoverCo Plus to get access to exclusive newsletters, interactive daily rankings of every unreleased Steam game, and lots more besides.]