With over 600 million worldwide active console gamers and over 37 billion dollars generated in revenue in 2017 in the United States alone, the video game industry is a retail force that continues to grow each year. Much like the filmmaking industry, video game profits are mostly dependent on long-running franchise titles that drive annual recurring revenue. The similarities in business strategy don’t end there — as development houses all over the world are arming time-tested creators and indie hopefuls with budgets to create the next big tentpole. With the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3 2018) on the horizon and several anticipated launches on the calendar, passionate gamers across forums and social networks have been speculating for months about what to expect from a handful of highly publicized releases. Social listening platforms help to highlight factors critical to video game research, by helping developers and publishers optimize video game marketing campaigns. We used the Synthesio Social Intelligence Suite to capture the video game buzz resonating across social networks and forums about the year’s most anticipated releases. Three titles rose to the surface from a list of hundreds to lead the pack: Death Stranding, Vampyr, and We Happy Few.
Share of Voice
Social listening platforms can help video game marketers quantitatively measure the volume of video game buzz around upcoming titles. Share of Voice is a simple KPI to help compare the volume of conversation around specific topics. When the trailer for Death Stranding premiered at E3 2016, gamers around the world whooped in joy. Hideo Kojima, the creator of Metal Gear, had finally wriggled out of Konami’s grasp and launched Kojima Productions — and was actively in the development of a new immersive experience featuring actors Norman Reedus and Mads Mikkelsen. Here we are, two years later and Death Stranding is still generating massive amounts of buzz, despite no solid release date on the calendar. Vampyr, a platform-agnostic adventure, developed by Dontnod Entertainment, rode a wave of pre-release publicity generated by early access offers to pull in close to 4,000 mentions. The independent of the bunch, We Happy Few, created thanks in part to Kickstarter funding for Compulsion Games, generated a small amount of volume due to VIP sneak-peaks on the eve of the game’s forthcoming release.
Measuring sentiment as a part of video game research is essential, particularly if a title has had problems in the development cycle or delayed release dates. Social listening platforms quantify sentiment and make it simple for video game marketers to drill into the qualitative mentions that are driving both positive and negative conversations. Despite leading in Share of Voice, Death Stranding was the laggard in terms of positive sentiment. Negative sentiment focused on the game’s long development time and history of delayed release dates. Vampyr’s positive sentiment was driven by fans’ growing excitement as the title nears it’s June drop date. Negative sentiment focused on whether the game’s ethics-based non-violent premise will resonate with fans of more traditional action/adventure experiences. We Happy Few managed to generate the highest percentage of positive comments, thanks in part to a fan-focused development and release schedule that’s kept potential buyers engaged since the game’s pre-funding preview. The title, distributed by Gearbox Publishing — and backed by Microsoft Studios — created very little negative buzz, with a handful of outliers protesting the game’s narcotics-inspired storyline.
Segregating conversations by media type is another benefit of social listening platforms, mainly on forums like Reddit. Forums are the arena of choice for video gamers — as most provide an anonymous outlet to share speculation, tips, tricks, and trash-talking. The lion’s share of forum conversations originated on Reddit, with long threads devoted to all three titles. The true dyed-in-the-wool zealots congregate in other forums — with branded communities from Gamespot, Steam, and IGN housing in-depth debates. As can be expected, negativity on forums predominantly stemmed from trolls and bullies in the Gamergate mold. Mentions on social networks were more positive as a result of the amount of sharing/commenting on owned promotional messaging. Blogs, which contributed 10% to overall volume, evenly balanced positivity and negativity with a more objective, journalistic approach to speculation and word-of-mouth surrounding the three new titles.
Overall, it’s clear that Death Stranding has left fans around the world stranded in anticipation of a solid release date, while Vampyr has gamers eager to sink their teeth into the cross-console game. But, keep your eyes on We Happy Few — the bronze medalist might put smiles on the faces of more gamers than you expect. If you want to learn more about social listening platforms and the KPIs we use to analyze massive amounts of social and mainstream data, schedule a demo today with one of our social intelligence experts. We’ll be happy to walk you through our suite of tools and help align our solutions to your business problems.