HOW PEWDIEPIE CAN MAKE YOU SUCCESS
Learn how to harness the power of influencers in the mobile game ecosystem.
A small, Montreal-based studio called Outerminds decided to enter a Game Jolt-sponsored game jam. The goal was to spark new ideas and passion among the then three-person team. With 800 other entrants, they didn’t expect to win—in fact, they didn’t. But their entry proved a major turning point for the team.
Before all entries were even submitted, one of the judges got in touch: PewDiePie (Felix Kjellberg), of YouTube gaming fame. Outerminds’s entry caught PewDiePie’s eye, perhaps because their game idea—PewDiePie’s Paradise Island—was created, quite literally, with the YouTube influencer in mind. Though the title didn’t win the game jam, PewDiePie asked the team to build a similar mobile game with his input. By January 2015, they started full-time development and released PewDiePie: Legend of the Brofist in September of the same year. Bolstered by PewDiePie’s coverage of his own game, Brofist became the top paid app in over 50 countries.
A random game jam and a Tweet exchange later, Outerminds has grown from three to eight people and is a few months away from releasing a second PewDiePie-led game. Through it all, Outerminds learned how to harness the power of influencers in the mobile game ecosystem.
“At one point PewDiePie said, ‘Is it OK if my friends join in?’ And we said, ‘Hey, you can bring as many 10-million-subscriber people as you want,’” says de Pessemier referencing PewDiePie colleagues who also have huge YouTube subscriber counts. As such, Legend of the Brofist ended up with in-game voice-overs (and YouTube coverage) from five YouTubers besides PewdiePie.
The same fun PewDiePie embraces on YouTube and with other game influencers, is the most important ingredient for Outerminds, which has made a mantra out of the theme of the Game Jolt jam: “fun to watch, fun to play.” But somewhat counter-intuitively, fun doesn’t imply good. Whether a game is great or not so great, the fun of the entire spectacle—either playing or watching—is what gets the attention of YouTube video creators and fans.
“Even a bad game can be fun to play, fun to watch,” says de Pessemier, noting that while Brofist has stellar reviews, bad games covered by YouTubers often generate sales anyway. A game that isn’t particularly eye-catching or remarkable, on the other hand, probably won’t sell or be downloaded much even if a YouTuber happens to feature it.
Similarly, ongoing coverage can keep a game afloat. “Every time we’re releasing an update, PewDiePie’s playing it on his channel, and we get a huge spike in sales,” Pessemier says. “We didn’t invest a penny in advertising. PewDiePie is the advertisement.”
Outerminds quickly found itself having to juggle Herculean community management tasks. For example, PewDiePie asked the community to help name the game. A flood followed. “People were so creative, but there were 30,000 suggestions,” de Pessemier says. “I had to ask one of the coders to do an algorithm to sort all the nouns.”
The studio decided to go all-in, announcing and promoting some big milestones as a marketing strategy. PewDiePie went along with the plan, often mentioning the company by name with each new bit of news or update. Outerminds, in turn, worked to be open, interacting with fans on social media and posting pictures of themselves. As such, Outerminds took a cue from the subject of their game: show players who you are.
“They see us chilling in the studio, doing stupid stuff, being ourselves,” de Pessemier says. “They see the eight faces of our company, not a big corporation hiding behind a logo.” The openness has worked—at least on social media. Outerminds amassed over 20,000 Twitter followers in 2015.
He emphasizes that there’s no way to control the chaos of YouTube. All you can do is show up and be open to whatever arises. “We could have played Super Smash Bros. instead of going to that game jam,” he says of the serendipity of Outerminds’s success. “What were the odds that out of 800 teams PewDiePie would play our game first? We’ve been very lucky. If I could go back in the past, I would not change anything.”