Charm Your Communities

Speaker: Victoria Tran – Community Director Innersloth

Victoria Tran is the amazing director behind the community at Among Us developer Innersloth. She also used to work at Kitfox Games and I helped her a while back on their email newsletter for Boyfriend Dungeon.

  • What is charming your community? – People keep coming back to interact with each other. It is about creating warm, vibrant experiences associated with your studio.
  • Qualities: Playfulness, delight, positivity, earnestness, attention to detail.
  • When you do this it creates a sense of togetherness. It brings people into your community.
  • Community Journey 
    • New Members – Hard to get them to take an action. Can be turned off.
    • Regular – More than once, Not super attached.
    • Loyal supporters – choose you over your competition
    • Advocate – Members who contribute, provides feedback, recruit other members. 
  • How to get more people to move them through this journey?
    • Create meaningful moments – Example
    • Side note from Victoria: Your game has to be good – no matter how good your community is if the game or the studio isn’t very good then it won’t work.
  • How to charm?
    • Elevate – Surprising events extraordinary experiences. Break routines. Example: One day write an email in meows. Or spotlight amazing community members. 
    • Insight – Shaping the way someone sees the world/ 
    • Connection – Create ties with others. Example: Inside Jokes – such as the community knowing how Victoria hates cilantro so now it is an inside joke.
    • Pride – Significant milestones or being recognized by others. – Recognize how important community members are – try to brighten their day.
  • You don’t just want a community that isn’t bad with no complaints – it has to exceed that moment and be above and beyond. 

Recommended book she referenced throughout – The Power of Moments 

Using Advanced Competitive Analysis to Thrive in a Competitive Market

Speaker: Logan Williams Marketing & PR Specialist at Indie Wolverine

In this talk Logan reviewed his techniques for researching how other games did.

  • You can look at Steam.db to find follower counts
  • You can estimate the number of wishlists by multiplying followers by 9.6
  • You can then look in bumps along the follower chart to see when big marketing campaigns are run.
  • You can then look on twitter, the steam page “news” tab to find out what activity they did at that corresponds to that bump up.

For press outreach you can use the following tools

  • Hunter.io – to search to find email addresses of Streamers and Journalists. You get a couple free searches but it isn’t that expensive to get additional ones and it is worth it if it saves you time clicking through various websites trying to find the right one.
  • Hunter.io – bonus tip – you can take your long media list and import them into hunter.io and it will tell you which ones still works.
  • Use google trends and look for a competitors game’s name. You can see when that game was searched on google which indicates key marketing beats.
  • Linkclump – a tool for Chrome where you can just select a bunch of links and they are added to your clipboard. Good for searching for games and copying out all the links to press that covered that game.
  • BuzzStream – Free trial for 14 days – it allows you to search for a game and a time range and it will find news articles and then you can export the author contact info. He highly recommends it.

For streamer outreach you can use the following tools

  • SullyGnome – Streamer database that you use to find what they are playing. Then filter by this data:
  • Language
  • Followers
  • Stream time – if you see a game that is similar to yours is played by a streamer multiple times and for a long time
  • Follower gained while playing your target game – this is the streamer’s followers gained (not steam followers) – this indicates that the streamer’s audience is engaged with this streamer and are following them. 

How Great Key Art Can Lead to Doubling Marketing Numbers

Speaker Alex Van Lepp – Marketing DIrector Graffiti Games

As you might know I am a big fan of really understanding why a capsule is or is not working. This talk dives into a series of capsule changes one publisher made to boost their traffic.

  • Key art / Capsule images – He calls it the Billboard for your game
  • Key art is the most significant piece of marketing – it is going to be seen more than any other marketing asset and gets people to see your game. With bad key art, nobody is going to see your game.
  • What makes great key art? – High quality, easily readable logo, explains the game. Here is the final keyart for a game they published.

Dos for keyart

  • Find a focal point – What is the main thing you want people to see? It is probably the main character, so make that the most important thing.
  • Research other banners / posters from other games and from movies to get inspiration
  • Hire an artist. Don’t cheap out on this.
  • Add text. For instance in the game Blue Fire, they added a soundtrack for the next sale and added a bit of text there. 
  • For Key art, consider the vertical and horizontal – you have to do multiple orientations for each stores. For instance twitch is a vertical image. This is the preview they used when sketching ideas out with the artist.
  • Note how they decided it was ok to crop some characters out: like the lama in the right of the frame.
  • Create original art for small capsules
  • Have text that is clear and readable
  • Have images that are clear and visible at a glance.
  • Limit the big graphical elements! 2-3 elements with a logo (Graffiti Games’ rule of thumb)

Don’ts for keyart

  • Include text that is illegible (too small, blurry)
  • Use low-res art
  • Too many visual elements
  • This key are violates all those rules and many thought the game was called “I bite the bullet” because there was too much decoration on the text.

Example of making small capsule from big capsule

They played around a lot with how to get a small capsule out of this big image.

Below is the Evolution of the small capsule. Notice how it goes from too busy, to the second one with the blue sky and no ground where it doesn’t make sense what is going on, then final one shows the turnip actually doing tax evasion. Plus there is a bag with money.

Turnip Boy was in the popular games on front page of Steam for 2 weeks so a lot of people saw that super small logo. It was important and really increased sales

How to find your artist

  • They just asked friends for recommendations
  • Searched ArtStation. It’s how they browsed artist portfolios to see who would be a good fit.
  • Have an idea of direction and make sure your artist can do it.
  • Start early – artists are busy. 
  • Obtain the source psd file so you can move things around

Blue Fire case study

  • Originally a Nintendo world title that got a bunch of attention on Nintendo but as part of the agreement they couldn’t launch a steam page. By the time they did the Steam impression numbers had terrible numbers so they knew they had to do something.
  • So they changed their capsule. Before the change is on top, bottom is after.

Problems here:

  • Note the game is called blue fire but the capsule is red. That is weird. 
  • Small red capsule with just text is not clear, it isn’t interesting, so they added the main character and it really helped.
  • Numbers before and after. (side note, these numbers are during resting periods)
  • Note the impressions for both were almost the same, but the click through rate was much lower for the old capsule.
  • Here is a chart of their visits over time
  • Alex’s explanation of the spikes (CZ NOTE I added these red circles to make it easier to explain)
    • The very first spike (not circled with red) was an IGN event announcing the game. 
    • First red circle is when they changed the key art
    • Second big red circle with the double spike because of a couple festivals.
    • The final circle was a marketing beat that was pretty minor BUT because they had good capsule art at that time the impact was just as good as IGN event at the start of their page. So minor beats have a bigger impact.
  • Results of key art change
    • 150% increase in daily wishlsits
    • 145% increase in daily visitors
    • 11.6% increase in daily impressions
    • 119.9% increase in daily Steam click-thru rate
  • The key art also improved their YouTube trailers. Likes, and views are much higher for the better capsule.

Case Study – Adventures of Chris

Top is before, bottom is after

His analysis of this capsule change

  • The problem with the first capsule is that it has a weird focal point “chris” is not the center point, he is not the biggest thing in the capsule. 
  • The before art style is much simpler and doesn’t look as high quality
  • The new capsule has everything pointing towards the main character
  • The new smaller capsule also has a character front and center, and is much more interesting.
  • The new capsule has all the characters all looking at chris.

Stat results:

  • Here he is looking at 3 months before the change compared to 3 months after the change.
  • Alex notes that the click Thru Rate is lower for the second capsule but he thinks that is because they were getting way more impressions. 
  • Results of key art change
    • 900% increase in daily wishlists
    • 141% increase in daily visitors
    • 227% increase in impressions
  • CZ Side note. I do wonder about the stats here. Comparing a averaged 3-months before and averaged 3-months after a capsule is a bit misleading. Typically later in a game’s life span you are doing more and more promotion – more festivals, more press pushes, releasing more trailers. I do think the capsule factored in here but by doing 3 month average comparison it could be additional causes for this HUGE increase in wishlists.