E3 independent trailer edits can seem overwhelming, but devs say they worked
There were loads of indie games at E3 2021. The Wholesome Games Direct and Guerrilla Collective shows featured over 70 indie games each, and there were indie trailers in Summer Game Fest, Future Games Show, Devolver Direct , Upload VR showcase, and our own PC Gaming Show. It all happened in a haze, but for the creators of these games, was it a haze worth being in?
Chikon Club’s Soup Pot trailer was one that stood out. It’s a game where you follow real recipes to cook food from all over the world, with dedication to 3D modeling real activity while looking stress free that makes it look like PC Building Simulator for the kitchen .
This memorable trailer apparently did the trick. Soup Pot was wishlisted 9,000 times on Steam after airing during Summer Game Fest, according to Gwen Foster, commercial developer at Chikon Club. This was the biggest spike in wishlist numbers since Soup Pot’s Steam page went live.
Adding a game to your Wish List isn’t the same as buying it, of course. Valve’s Aravind Moorthy estimated that 19% of wishlists turn into sales in the first year of a game’s average life, although the exact number can differ significantly. Since it cost $ 2,000 to make the Soup Pout trailer (“normally local creatives get paid between $ 100 and $ 300 and we thought it was unfair,” Foster says), she calculates that 117 of these people have to buy Soup Pot to cover its cost. It’s 1.3%, which seems like an easy target.
Direct sales conversions aren’t the only value of wishlists. The mysterious Steam algorithm takes into account the number of people who put a game on the wishlist to determine what to highlight in places like the Discovery Queue, Featured Boxes, and the Popular section. Upcoming. All of these coveted positions put the games in front of the customers and can result in more wishlists, keeping them there longer. If independent developers seem obsessed with wishlist numbers, that’s why.
Pupperazzi from Sundae Month is a cute dog photo-taking photo safari game that was announced on Wholesome Games Direct in 2020 and followed by a 30-second trailer in the 2021 edition. Tanya X Short, Captain from publisher Kitfox Games of Pupperazzi, said those 30 seconds resulted in thousands of new wishlists, twice as many as the initial announcement.
“You can never really tell what’s going to happen in advance, but Wholesome Games Direct has been great for us,” she says, “although a lot of people don’t consider it to be part of E3” principal “for some reason.” The video was cut from their own footage from the Muttropolis level, “so it was only a few days of effort …
Lakeburg Legacies, a medieval management simulation focused on the love life of the villagers, was not revealed until E3. It was announced on the PC Gaming Show and appears to have done well. “We got 8,000 wishlists in less than 24 hours after the game was revealed, which was great,” said Bruno Laverny, communications and marketing director of Ishtar Games. “And now, a week after the reveal, we already have over 15,000 wishlists, and we’re very happy with that. To give you a comparison, the announcement of our previous game, The Last Spell, only gave us than about 800 wishlists in a day. “
Ishtar Games spent quite a bit on the trailer: $ 10,000, which is just under $ 12,000, or roughly $ 206 per second. “It’s money well spent on our end because it gave us the best visibility we could hope for,” Laverny said.
As valuable as Steam wishlists are, they’re not the only measure of an E3 storefront’s success. Word of mouth is also important, and thanks to social media game developers can see it happening. Laverny says that Lakeburg Legacies “received numerous Twitter mentions from people saying how excited they were about the game,” and Soup Pot developer Chikon Club gained 500 followers, while a teaser for one game called Sally which appeared during the Wholesome Direct stream took developer Lucid Tales from “around 200 subscribers” to almost 1,000.
Sally introduces you as one of the kids aboard a cartoon airship and looks like Animal Crossing from 30,000 feet. Émile Brodeur, president of the Lucid Tales worker co-op, says they have “a pretty unusual and experimental marketing method” for Sally. It’s still in pre-production, so they invite potential players in via behind-the-scenes videos called “Game Dev Tales” as development progresses. “We use devlogs to connect with our audience and our first devlog is 8,000 views on YouTube,” says Brodeur.
YouTube numbers are what matters to Lucid Tales, and the studio has garnered around 700 subscribers after Sally’s reveal. The small team spent months working on the video, which Brodeur finds interesting. “The trailer is fully integrated into the engine and most of what you see in the trailer is intended for play at the moment,” he says. “For us, that was why it made sense to produce a trailer without wasting resources.”
For RoboDunk, which is essentially NBA Jam with bots, solo developer Gabriele Libera aka Jollypunch Games also created an in-house trailer. “I’ve done everything myself except the music, so the only cost is the time and work I put into it.” The music is a track from the soundtrack of Giorgiost’s game, “so it was not an additional expense.”
RoboDunk was one of the few completely new games revealed during the build-up of Guerrilla Collective, so Libera has nothing to compare Steam wishlist numbers with, but says, “I’m pretty happy with the way the lists wishes are unfolding. It’s not an overwhelming amount, but it’s healthy. ” RoboDunk seems like the kind of game that would suit local multiplayer well and demonstrate well at conventions, but Libera hasn’t been able to show it in person due to Covid-19. E3 filled this gap. “I was happy to see that people’s reactions exceeded my expectations.”
For these independent developers, the promotional work doesn’t end with E3. After Steam Next Fest launched, several trailers asked viewers to download a demo at the start of the event. One of them was Wolfstride, a junkyard robot RPG with a striking black-and-white trailer presented by the Guerrilla Collective. Elena Christensen, public relations strategist for indie label Raw Fury, said it had been downloaded “over 10,000 times and the Steam discussion board was getting more and more active.” It’s done well on wishlists as a result of this, doubling in number over the past week.
Another game that received further promotion following its placement in a montage was Paralives. The life management game trailer demonstrated its house building tools, showing off grid-less placement and curving walls to make Sims players salivate. Paralives Studio immediately posted a more in-depth 11-minute home-building video that takes you from buying a property to building a roof.
“As a studio fully funded by crowdfunding, it is essential for us to continuously increase our visibility,” explains Christine Gariépy, communications director of Paralives Studio. While it’s nice that Paralives was added to 9,000 wishlists within 24 hours of the two trailers going live, for a team funded through Patreon, what really matters is paying the subscribers. The week after E3, they collected over 700 of them, “which is an increase of over $ 5,000 in monthly income.” Both trailers were created in-house using assets intended for inclusion in the finished game. “There was a good return on investment! “
The number of games shown at E3 2021 can seem overwhelming at times. How can you remember the details of 70 trailers shown back to back, let alone 140? But it is clear that a number of viewers noticed and remembered the games they were interested in, and the more games shown, the more a variety of niches will likely be covered. A third of the games showcased at E3 2021 were non-violent, and it seemed to be as good a year for games about mail delivery and birds as it was for more mainstream video game ingredients like radiation-soaked wasteland, or rockets and four players. coop with undead or shootable aliens.
At its inception, E3 was by and for the gaming industry. It has changed over the years, opening up to the public, PC games, and smaller developers. It’s always a corporate event at heart, but if there’s going to be a week of focused marketing hype, it’s right that independent developers can be a part of it. Thousands of gamers are reacting to indie games at E3, from cooking soup, meeting medieval villagers to taking pictures of dogs. Like in Junji Ito’s comic, there’s a hole that’s the right shape for everyone.
Indie games can struggle to stand out in the storefronts, but E3 edits are a chance for them to shine, to be presented in front of such a huge audience that chances are they’ll hook up with someone. “I feel like we independents often try every opportunity we can afford,” says Short, “and sometimes they just don’t go anywhere… but this one definitely failed. ‘to have been included and got to enjoy all the excitement that was floating around, even though we weren’t on a giant stage in Los Angeles. “