The Impact of One Streamer on a Game After Release

Useful data from Kitfox's Victoria Tran.

[We occasionally run guest posts on Game Discoverability Now!, and here’s an excellent one from Victoria Tran, Communications Director at Kitfox Games, an indie studio in Montreal. She’s currently working on Boyfriend DungeonLucifer Within Us and publishing Six AgesMondo Museum and Dwarf Fortress. This was originally posted on Kitfox’s Medium page.]

Getting hard stats from streams has always been a bit messy — sure, your game is likely getting visibility, but is that doing anything? Are there sales? How many people check out the page? And even then… what if the game has already been out for awhile?

Recently, Bikeman streamed [storybook strategy game] Six Ages on Twitch (thanks!). We thought it’d be nice to share information we gathered, as there aren’t a lot of publically available stats we could find.

About the stream:

  • Bikeman has about 250k+ followers and regularly plays a variety of indie games

  • The stream hit ~1200 concurrent viewers

  • The stream was on April 8, and ran for 3 hours in the evening

  • The stream was not sponsored

Read on to see some numbers we got, with permission from David Dunham and Bikeman!

Pre-Stream Factors

Several things may have fudged with the sales/visibility numbers before the stream even happened. Keep these things in mind before you read further:

  • Six Ages had already been out on Steam for 5 months, meaning the hype of it being a new release had passed already

  • Six Ages is the spiritual successor to the cult hit King of Dragon Pass, which gives it some previous fans

  • We had a weeklong sale happening during this time (starting Apr 6), which may have driven up sales

  • We did a COVID-19 Relief Fundraiser on April 10, so you’ll see a jump in sales there that aren’t linked to the stream… or maybe they were helped by it once they saw it was also going to charity?

Stats

Before this, traffic from Twitch was pretty consistently at zero. This makes sense since Six Ages had been out for 5–6 months, so all the launch hype had died down.

Bikeman’s stream did create a noticeable difference in terms of traffic from Twitch. This counts the times people clicked links to Six Ages directly from Twitch, but doesn’t account for any people who may have independently looked up the game on their own during/after the stream (e.g. via Google).

There was also a custom bit.ly link that went directly to the Six Ages Steam page. It was occassionally thrown into chat via a bot, though there were occassions where mods/other people would link the game in chat without the custom link.

  • We got 117 clicks on the bit.ly link

  • Bit.ly click through rate (CTR): 9.7%

The 9.7% CTR from a stream is quite good! If we compare it with normal social media CTRs, a good rate is 2–5%. Kitfox’s own social media channels usually hit the 4–7% mark.

In terms of sales, there was a small boost in wishlist activations and units sold thanks to the stream! Compared to the previous two days (Apr 7 & 8), the next two days (Apr 9 & 10) saw about a 60% increase in sales.

I doubt this increase was PURELY from the stream, but it likely helped!

Remaining Question?

Some of you may have noticed that the highest rise in visibility from Twitch didn’t actually come on the 8th, which was when the stream took place. It came on the 9th.

There were no other big streams that day… so I’m not entirely sure why the stats report it to be more pronounced the day after. Timezones? Reporting differences between Steam and Twitch? Delays? Hmmm.

Lessons

Of course, there are so many different factors that can affect how well received a game is from a streamer.

Streamer dependent factors

  • How large is their following, but more importantly, how active and engaged is their audience?

  • Do they normally play games that are of a similar genre to yours?

  • Does their audience enjoy watching games of your genre?

  • Does the audience watch the streamer purely for personality reasons, or are they watching the streamer ALSO because they trust the streamer’s taste in games and are looking for recommendations?

Game dependent factors

  • Is your game replayable, with varied outcomes? (Not every game has to be this of course, but it definitely is a factor in whether someone decides to buy it after watching a significant chunk of gameplay)

  • Is your game fun to watch?

  • Is your game’s quality up to snuff?

Not every game has to be “streamable” in order to be successful, just like how having a large streamer play your game doesn’t guarantee it’ll even do anything.

I’ve heard multiple instances from fellow community managers that big streamers have played their games (think around the 600k — 800k follower mark) which translated to….. basically 0 game units sold. This isn’t to say it’s the streamer’s fault, of course! Or that having streamers playing your game isn’t valuable! It’s just to be aware that the numbers you get in return won’t always be as you expect it to be, so make sure you track it.

Conclusion

I wish I had some nice conclusion to give you about the effects a streamer has on an already released game. A neat little formula I can give you to use for your future endeavours. But I don’t! Sorry! Bye!

Okay, I won’t end like that, but I really don’t have a final conclusion other than a general shrug. Bikeman’s stream certainly did do something positive for the game, but it’s impossible to guarantee every game and streamer will have the same level of impact.

But the best knowledge is the one we share with each other so… hope this helped, somehow! :)

<3

[Simon here to end things out - great stuff from Victoria. My personal view is that there are some Twitch streamers & YouTubers that ‘core’ gamers watch, & who you will get game purchases from. Then there’s other ‘novelty’ or personality-led streamers where the upside can be a trickle, even if they have a lot of followers. The mapping is not remotely linear to the # of followers/subs. And Bikeman looks to be the former, hurray! More examples wanted, though - I have a YouTube-related one from Yes, Your Grace that I’ll try to share soon.]