In this week's Business Briefing, we explore how studios can use Twitch as an effective tactic within their marketing strategy, to drive awareness for games.
If you are reading this, you are probably already well aware of what Twitch is. But just in case, Twitch is an online streaming service that allows anyone (with the right technical setup) to hop online and broadcast themselves to the world. Twitch’s core audience is gamers, however the platform is used for a wide variety of different genres of content. For this post, we are going to be focussing on games, and the role Twitch could play in marketing them.
Twitch is home for many gamers, both streamers and viewers alike. In fact it has 15 million daily users. There is a huge audience on the platform who like to play games in front of people, and who want to watch others play games. It is the ideal shop window to get your game in, for vast audiences to it check out before deciding to purchase it themselves.
In January GWI reported that 34% of gamers had watched a live gaming stream within the last month. Twitch has been seeing year on year growth for the number of viewers and streamers, which has only been driven further up by the COVID lockdowns. They saw a 50% increase in hours watched between March and April of 2020.
Using influencers to market for you can be a great tactic, as they essentially can become ambassadors for you. They already have a following of their own fans, who you can immediately gain access to by forging a partnership with the influencer.
Although you may think that to get any cut through you need to be getting your title in the hands of the huge well-known streamers on the platform, that isn’t really the case. Studies have found that micro influencers actually have a much better engagement rate. Micro influencers are those with around 1,000 – 10,000 followers, as opposed to millions! They are understood to have a more niche audience, and often considered experts in their area of interest. The logic is sound, while your Dr Disrespects (however, he is no longer on Twitch) and Ninjas have millions of followers, that also means the audience is incredibly broad, so there will be a lot of people in there who likely do not and will not have interest in some specific types of game. However, a more targeted streamer, who is well known for the genre your game fits into, will be broadcasting to a more relevant audience. A smaller audience, but one that is full of people with a much higher chance of converting.
Gamers also like to see gameplay – and what better way to showcase gameplay, than by having someone actually play the game and broadcast it? This gives your prospective audience a chance to witness what the game is really all about and understand a bit more about it before they decide to purchase. It is a prime opportunity to get games in the virtual shop window.
Audiences put a lot of time into following their favourite streamers, taking onboard what they have to say, so if someone they follow who is known within your genre endorses your product, then that is a really powerful advantage you will have contributing to whether someone converts to buy the game.
Should you decide to go down the route of using streamers to promote your game, you shouldn’t rely on organic discoverability. You will need to put in the legwork to boost audiences for the streamers playing your game in order to have the best chance of success.
There are a number of ways you can reach influencers and streamers on Twitch, which all have their merits.
One way is to reach out to streamers directly that you want to partner with. This can involve some research work, to see who you think may be good fit for you and your product, based on follower counts, preferred genres, and overall presence (including outside of Twitch). You could do this through Twitch itself, and there are also tools such as SullyGnome which has a raft of free statistics that you can access to make decisions. This method allows you to have full control over who you decide to work with, and you can agree terms directly with the streamer as to what is going to work for all parties. If you didn’t want to, or didn’t have the time to do the search yourself, you could engage with an agency who specialise in influencer marketing to find suitable partnerships for you.
There may be some worry about feeling authentic by paying streamers to play, however Twitch viewers are well accustomed to this, and the process is generally very transparent. Ultimately, streamers have their own reputations to maintain so will not typically endorse products that they do not believe in, as this would hurt their own brand.
You can go direct to streamers, but there are other ways. One effective tactic is to distribute game keys. You can set up an application process for streamers to register, and provide access to anyone who applies that you think would be a good match. A great example of this was just before the release of Fall Guys from Mediatonic and Devolver; thousands of keys were applied for and distributed amongst streamers to play in the immediate run up before its release. Fall Guys briefly took over Twitch with 1000+ channels streaming the game, racking up over 4 million hours of watched gameplay and more than 200,000 concurrent viewers across the platform – all before the game was even released. Now I’m not saying distribute your keys and you will automatically have this kind of success, however this is a great example of how powerful the platform can be.
Using Twitch’s Bounty Boards are another great way of having the right influencers come to you. The way these work is that you post a challenge that you would like a streamer to take on. Streamers only receive the financial reward you've specified when they successfully complete the bounty. Currently select partners and affiliates across the US, Canada, UK, France and Germany are eligible to apply for a bounty. The bounty board allows you to have full control over what you want to achieve from streamers, and only pay out if this is achieved. The benefit of this is you will only attract streamers who think they can meet your requirements to ensure they are paid the bounty. Streamers also have a survey to complete before they can access the Bounty Board, which is designed to make sure they are targeted only by bounties that would be relevant to them. This removes a lot of the leg work of trying to find suitable streamers, as they will come to you.
Of course, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that if you’re using Twitch within your marketing strategy, then influencers is the only way to go. However, Twitch also has a number of more traditional options for advertising on the platform that also can be very effective. From well targeted banner ads across the site, to video options.
Twitch is obviously a video driven platform, so opting for video adverts can be a good tactic. These are able to run as either pre-roll or mid-roll adverts, catching viewers before they enter a stream, or if a streamer has mid-stream adverts turned on to help boost their income. Cross screen video and Surestream are types of Twitch ads worth considering, although these do have high CPMs (cost per thousand impressions). Typical 80%+ completion rates usually result in a 4p cost per view. Whilst this is higher than YouTube or Facebook where we usually see the CPV (Cost per view) at 1p or 2p, arguably the context is better on Twitch, and the targeting by game title or genre is also more accurate and extensive. Surestream ads are particularly interesting as these still reach users who have ad block installed.
As powerful as Twitch can be, it is not a silver bullet that is the answer to all of your marketing needs. If you opt to use Twitch, it very much needs to be considered a part of your overall marketing strategy rather than the sole medium for advertising video games. With Fall Guys, for example, there was a lot of hard work across other channels prior to the Twitch key distribution that enabled the use of Twitch to be so successful.
There are plenty of options on Twitch, and with a dedicated gaming audience, the potential is huge. Targeted advertising on platforms like Twitch can significantly boost the awareness of your game - be it a brand new product heading for launch, or trying to extend the life of a released game by reaching new players. So it is definitely a worthwhile consideration for your marketing and advertising strategy.
If you would like to talk about how you can use Twitch to supercharge your growth, please get in touch…