The benefits of talking to people

Digital platforms like Steam, Youtube and Twitter have made it so that you can market your game without having to actually talk to anyone. You can just post a link then hide while random strangers find your game and buy it. Or so you hope. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that well. To truly understand the needs of your customers you need to, well, talk to them. February is Valentine’s day month so I am dedicating all my posts this month to marketing your game by building relationships with real-life people.

This first week I am going to talk about meeting streamers in real life. As a game dev, streamers can appear to be just a long list of names on Keymailer or a “press list” that I cold-email my keys out to. I decided I wanted to better understand the streamer so I went to one of their local meetups. 

Streaming is now just a hobby and many people Stream without any intention of becoming famous. They just do it because they like it. It is a social outlet like Contract Bridge, or Bunco parties were for our parents. Turns out we have a bunch of meetups here in Phoenix. I went to this one

There was a full range of creators. A couple of people there are able to pull in a full-time income from their streaming. They are Twitch partners (a very exclusive distinction.) I also met a streamer who was flown out to Germany to compete in a streamer reality show. She won! Here is a clip of her winning $10,000.

I also made connections with local folks who are speedrunners. The types of gamers who stream the types of games I make. 

How streamers work

But the real reason I was there was to just learn how the world of content creation works. Here are the basics of how streamers operate

  • They are constantly looking at the number of viewers for a game. The sweet spot is 1000 – 10,000 viewers because they can be sure people will stumble upon them when they are streaming.
  • Streaming popular games gets you more views. Obviously! So if you are pitching your tiny indie game, you gotta understand they are taking a risk by streaming it. Viewers flee when their streamer plays a game that they aren’t interested in.
  • Some streamers specialize in being the explainers or authority on a new game. Those streamers are constantly searching the early access games on steam. If it is good and strategy rich, they strive to become THE expert on the game. Then when it launches they will be ahead of everyone else and be able to post better explainer videos.
  • “Raiding” is when you are about to sign off for the night, you can send your current viewers to a friend’s stream so that now your friends will have a bigger viewership. It is how they build viewerships through relationships.
  • Related to the “raiding” Streamers develop huge personal networks. I was looking for speedrunners and many of the folks there had 2 degrees of separation from big-name speedrunners. 

How to reach non-local streamers

Live in a small town? No local streamers? You can also reach out to streamers who play your game and have a special connection for it. For instance, I found this stream of a speedrunner who was playing my game on the show floor of Dream Hack Atlanta.

He was evangelizing for my game! Why not find out more from him? So I tracked him down on discord and we setup a call. I just chatted with the guy for 30 minutes. I wanted to know more about how Dreamhack worked, and what a “mystery bonus run” was. He also put me in touch with the Dreamhack community and how it is distinct from the “Awesome Games Done Quick” community. Again, building a relationship so that I can do more than just sending some keys anonymously on keymailer.

Next week

Streamers are just one aspect of people you need to talk to. Next week I will talk about how I try to reach out to 1 person from my community every single week.

What you should do

So my challenge to you is to go find your local streamers. Just search “<your city> streamer meetup.” or “<your city> twitch meetup.” Attend the next one. Bring your game. Give out keys. Make friends.

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