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Beyond the game: The best examples of extended player experience

Dan Thomas
Dan Thomas
Head of Game Services 19 Feb 20205 minutes read

Dan Thomas examines some prominent examples of "The Extended Experience" in the videogames industry, highlighting marketing campaigns and community engagement efforts that go above and beyond the game itself.

In a recent post, I introduced a concept we refer to as the extended experience. The extended experience is a way of thinking about games, which challenges the default assumption that audience acquisition and engagement is separate to game production. All audience touch points are part of the extended experience and we believe they should be developed in collaboration with those who understand that audience, and those who understand the DNA of what makes a game special. 

I love discussing this with other people and in conversation, after explaining it, I often get told about new examples or ideas of this thinking happening out in the wild.

Today, I want to share a few of those examples, which I think helps illustrate how this approach can pay dividends.

No Man's Sky - Galactic Atlas

The team at Hello Games are a delight to work with and are never short of new ideas, both in and outside their 18-quintillion planet universe (because when you're creating an entire procedural universe, you've got to have something else to keep you busy, right?).

During the production of the significant NEXT Update for No Man's Sky, we began discussing an idea for a community tool that could help surface some of the depth of the game, and the meaningful stories players were experiencing, to those who weren't yet aware of the amazing community and potential of the game.

What manifested from these discussions was the Galactic Atlas: A companion web application that was populated by the players, a place to share their fondest memories, most impressive screenshots and whereabouts in the universe they liked to hang out. The resulting archive lists hundreds of player submitted points of interest, alongside summary information about organically emerging player community hubs.

A screenshot of the Galactic Atlas

Stories submitted ranged from impressive encounters with fantastical creatures, to close-call escapes from space pirates, to heart-warming dedications for lost loved ones. And the response was overwhelmingly positive.

The Galactic Atlas works well as a mechanism for both attracting new players with a low barrier to entry, but also aided engagement across the entire player base, by facilitating collaborative creation in the community.

Necronator: Dead Wrong - The Chubat Chronicles

A relatively recent example surfacing as we speak is a newly launched comic strip dubbed "The Chubat Chronicles"

This is a simple and effective idea that sets player expectations in terms of tone, giving us all an idea of what to expect from the recently-released indie title, Necronator: Dead Wrong (published by Etch Play friends and clients Modern Wolf). By featuring the game's mascot, Chubat, in mischief-making scenarios, the comic succinctly communicates that we'll perhaps not be playing as the most righteous of heroes.

The snappy, short-form and minimal comic strip style also keeps this campaign manageable and offers lots of opportunities to create compelling collateral in the future, to keep growing the audience and in turn help establish a fan base, even before the game is launched.

Overwatch - Hero Shorts

Another little-known, small indie title is Overwatch by Activision Blizzard (yes, that was a joke). In the build up to the release, Overwatch introduced their roster of characters with short, highly-polished animated movies. Again, even before the game was available, fans were engaged. They could start to familiarise themselves with the characters, choose a favourite and start to get a feel for the world in which the game takes place. Releasing these videos offered compelling material for potential players to discuss, creating more volume and awareness of the game.

Since launching, the studio has continued to put out videos of this nature, filling in more of the game's sprawling lore and introducing new characters. And with Overwatch 2 now on the horizon, we're sure that there's plenty more video content to come.

Want more?

These are just a small handful of examples that demonstrate some of output that the extended experience can produce. We'll be sharing more examples here, on our blog and on social media, so give us a follow. 

If you'd to talk to us more about your ideas, and how the extended experience might help your team to connect with players, get in touch.