Finding of the week #28

Youtube channels as a marketing opportunity

During my ongoing literature review I often discover interesting facts about things I’ve never thought about. Sometimes I can connect these facts with my own observations: The result is mostly a completely new idea why things are as they are. Maybe these ideas are new to you, too. Therefore I’ll share my new science based knowledge with you!

This week: This time, I present the upcoming trend of pitching indie games to famous youtubers. By getting the attention of one famous youtuber who starts playing the game, the indie game developer can get the attention of several thousand other players the same time.

I’ve already discussed a bit the indie game development[1], youtubers who create lets play videos (LPs)[2] and the way how ecobusiness works[3]. Today, I like to combine these topics and discuss a marketing opportunity for indie game developers: taking advantage of successful youtubers to introduce the own game to a wide audience.

Indie game developers do have the problem that they need to do everything on their own. This also includes drawing attention of possible players who will buy their product. They can’t rely on the marketing campaigns of their publishers. Additionally, they even don’t have the money for huge marketing campaigns to introduce their games.

Successful youtubers on the other hand easily do have the attention of more than 100.000 followers[4]. In most cases, these followers like the same kind of games as the youtubers themselves. If a let’s play series covers interesting and fun gameplay, viewers might get interested and start playing the game, too.

Considering this, getting the attention of youtubers can lead to a successful introduction of the game to a broad audience. However, this is a time consuming activity, but it’s an ideal way of presenting the own game to the target audience. Additionally, youtubers are interested in making LP’s of new games and trying to advice interested indie game designers how they can approach youtubers[5].
Naturally sending e-mails to every possible youtuber won’t work at all. Indie game developers should do some research about the youtubers and be sure that the player might be interested in playing the own game[6]. If a developer pitches an adventure game to a player who mostly prefers to play simulations, the player would probably never play the game. Furthermore, the followers of this youtuber do have almost the same preferences as the youtuber and thus won’t be interested in a game that doesn’t match their interests.

If an indie game developer approaches a matching youtuber and the player starts playing and liking the game, both sides can greatly benefit from this. Youtubers need interesting content to keep their audience active. By getting new content by playing a freshly developed indie game, the youtuber can entertain his audience and get even more followers.
The indie game developer on the other hand suddenly reaches thousands of people who might get interested in the game and finally buy it. It’s consuming some time to find the appropriate youtube channel, but it can pay off by having somebody who presents the game to a wide audience for free.

Youtubers make revenue by being in the youtube partner program. The more views a user gets, the more revenue he can make. By getting access to interesting and new content, the youtuber can draw the attention of his viewers and thus make more money.
The indie game developer makes revenue by selling his game, but players can’t buy a game they’re not aware of. By getting in contact with a youtuber, the youtuber gets new content and the indie game gets the attention of the viewers. This symbiosis is successful for both sides: it’s a win-win situation.

Finding of the week #27

Gamification archaeology

During my ongoing literature review I often discover interesting facts about things I’ve never thought about. Sometimes I can connect these facts with my own observations: The result is mostly a completely new idea why things are as they are. Maybe these ideas are new to you, too. Therefore I’ll share my new science based knowledge with you!

This week: This time, I’m really excited since I found out, that I was taking advantage of gamification before the term has even existed. It’s fascinating becoming aware of being an „innovator“ in a technology life cycle.

I moved some files to my NAS as I discovered some old files from my work for a computer game community site over a decade ago. One of the key features of this website were the forums. Players were able to discuss everything related to the game and a huge community was evolving around the forum. Additionally, it had some reward features to keep users active over a long period of time.

The system was realized in a relative simple way: the forum had the features of displaying the posting count and the avatar of the users enabled. Users weren’t allowed to upload an own avatar picture. Instead, the avatar was linked to the amount of postings the user had made. Frequent, good or helpful posters on the forums should be rewarded with more rare avatars that also help to build up a higher reputation and indicate the contributions of this user to others.

Naturally, the hunt for special avatars also caused one main issues: the users tried to exploit the process of accumulating a high count of postings by „spamming“. To reduce the spam, moderaters sometimes had to delete the postings made by the user in question or even reduce the posting count by a noticeable amount.

Apart from the spam issue, the reward system worked perfectly and motivated a lot of users to be active on the forums over a long period of time. The system used some core features of recent gamification concepts.
The posting counter was immediately giving feedback to the contributions of the user: everytime a new posting was made, the counter increased by one. Users could instantly follow their progress by looking at their short profile information. Additionally, the avatars rewarded for frequent posting created some long term goals for the users, keeping them active over a long period of time.

Nowadays, gamification systems are rewarding users with badges, experience points and achievements. These reward mechanisms are almost the same as over a decade ago in the forums. The whole concept has remained the same. Users get instant feedback to their actions and are rewarded with special awards for long term goals.

The term „gamification“ can be traced back to 2004, but it wasn’t popular used until 2010[1]. However, even without being aware of the term, the main concept was already used in 2000 and before. It’s fascinating to become aware of the fact that I was taking advantage of gamification before the term even existed. It’s even more exciting that I was using it from the very beginning and nowadays trying to research the benefits of it.

My very first paper

It was during the first half of April as my professor gave me a link to a call for papers for a workshop at the 43rd annual German conference on informatics[1]. At this time, the deadline was already very short. If I remember correctly, only one or two weeks were left. Altough it seemed very unlikely to finish until the end of the deadline, I started to write a paper just for training purposes. I finished the first version about a week later and mailed it to my professor to get some feedback.

It turned out that it was already more than just a training and it could have enough potential to be submitted to the conference. Fortunately, the deadline for the submission was postponed and we had enough time to improve my paper. Finally, it was good enough to give it a try and I submitted it. Unfortunately, I’ve done a terrible mistake in the process.

Several weeks later, the reviews were finished and I recieved the news that my paper was accepted. However, it needed a huge overhaul until the final print version could be submitted.

Writing my very first paper was an interesting experience and I’ve learnt a lot during this time. The majority of the gained experience however came from the mistakes I’ve done. Most of them were caused by the small amount of time (for me as a paper-writing-beginner) to write the paper. The other ones were caused by the fact that this was my very first paper and I haven’t done anything like this before. On the other side, I’m now prepared for future papers and have an idea how I’ll approach them.

However, my very first paper procedure isn’t fully completed yet. It was a paper for a workshop at the conference on informatics and thus the results have to be presented. That’s it, what I’m going to do tomorrow! I’ll head off to Koblenz today and finally have a short presentation tomorrow morning. When I’m finished with it, I’ll have survived my very first paper procedure from the beginning until the very end.

Veröffentlicht unter Ph.D

Finding of the week #26

And then I needed a rescue mission

During my ongoing literature review I often discover interesting facts about things I’ve never thought about. Sometimes I can connect these facts with my own observations: The result is mostly a completely new idea why things are as they are. Maybe these ideas are new to you, too. Therefore I’ll share my new science based knowledge with you!

This week: This time, I’ll discuss the attractiveness of open world games. Players of such games experience a personal and unique story. Every moment is different and players can behave as they like without any constraints.

I’ve already discussed a lot the topic of real emotions evoked by virtual environments[1][2]. Most emotional experiences are coming from the story the players are experiencing during their journey through the game. Typically, the story is predetermined and every player will experience the same story arch. Some games, like the Mass Effect[3] series, do have a non lineary story, allowing the players to experience different endings based on their decisions during their playthrough. This allows the players to experience different things in the same game so that every playthrough seems to be unique. However, even the different endings are predetermined to a certain degree. At some point, the story will be the same, if players have done the same decisions.

In contrast to these story based games, sandbox games like Kerbal Space Program (KSP)[4] or open world survival games like DayZ[5] don’t have any predetermined story. The players are left alone with a gigantic world they can explore and use to create their own unique story. Experiencing an unique story can be very intense for the player, because it’s a spontaneous development no one has expected.

Without a clearly defined goal, but with almost endless possibilities of interacting with the world, players start to explore the environment on their own and automatically write their own story in this process. Obviously, key situations like running out of gas in the middle of ghost town full of deadly zombies in DayZ or stranding on the Mün in KSP happens to almost every player. However, the reasons for these situations are in most cases different and the actions the players take to solve the situations are different, too.

This openess allows every player to experience an unique situation every time they play the game. Players are even more proud of their achievements or results. The broad variety of different approaches and different outcomes distinguishes every achievement from each other. Players can tell their stories to other players who will listen with a great interest[6]. Players are aware of the boundaries of the virtual environment and have made their own experiences. These experiences allow each player to understand the stories and to appreciate the achievements of others. Additionally, players don’t know in advance how the story will end, becauso nothing is predetermined. (Well, based on my own observations, some rocket designs in KSP are predetermined to crash …) Hearing from the experiences of other can also evoke new ideas that need to be tried out in that particular game–a new story begins.

Pin point landing

Landed on the roof of the vehicle assembly building

To wrap things up, surprise is another great emotion caused by computer games, that keeps gamers playing. Open world games have always the potential of surprising their players with different outcomes. The different results finally lead to different stories the players are experiencing. Hearing the story of others can evoke own ideas of new personal in-game goals.
In the end, open world games without a story might be more colorful than games with a predetermined story. The success of these open world games might be caused by this special feature of allowing players to experience their own stories.

Finding of the week #25

Early access

During my ongoing literature review I often discover interesting facts about things I’ve never thought about. Sometimes I can connect these facts with my own observations: The result is mostly a completely new idea why things are as they are. Maybe these ideas are new to you, too. Therefore I’ll share my new science based knowledge with you!

This week: This time, I’ll present the concept of selling an early access to alpha version of video games that are currently under development. This concept allows indie game developers to finance their development process and gather useful feedback for their future developments.

Independent video games (indie games) are becoming more and more a well known and successful part in the whole area of video games. Indie games are created by only a few developers that aren’t supported by computer game publishers. Indie games are distributed over the internet and often focus on innovation.

Although indie game developers are very flexible, they do have a major issue: they lack of the financial support from publishers. Releasing the game when it’s finished doesn’t work all the time. To compensate the lack of a publisher, indie game developers came up with an interesting idea. They’re selling access to alpha versions of their games[1].

Computer game players who are interested in the concept of the game or who believe in the developers can buy an access to the game and experience it right away. For that pupose, indie game developers do have different options they can choose from to sell the early access versions of their product.
On the one hand, they can ramp up the price over time. The very first version of the game can be very cheap. After a bunch of new developments, the developers begin to increase the price. This reflects a bit the completeness of the game. The first playable version might have only a few features whereas a later version might be almost a fully functional game.
On the other hand, developers can sell different early access packets[2]. The cheapest packet only grants access to the game. The next package also includes some special benefits. Users now can choose between the packages and decide how much they’re likely to pay for that particular game.

The early access concept is a great deal for both, delevopers and gamers. Developers can already make revenue during the delevopement of their game. Additionally, they get a lot of feedback from their players. This, in return, allows the developers to increase the quality and functionality of their game.
The players on the other side get access to the game and can play it right away without a long waiting period until the game is finally released. Additionally, they’ll recieve all upcoming updates (and the release version of the game) for free. They’ve bought the game already during the development of it and are thus supporting the developers.

From the point of view of a gamer, this concept also increases the playtime of the game. Every new version of the game can be different and behave almost like a completely new game. Additionally, they aren’t overwhelmed by the complexity of the game. A release version of a game can offer a lot of different options to play it and players need to decide what they like to do at first. Playing a game over the time of its developement allows players to experience new functions as they’re implemented.