Main Game Deviation and Why it Matters for Your Influencer Selection

Main Game Deviation and Why it Matters for Your Influencer Selection
Photo by Enrique Vidal Flores / Unsplash

For many streamers, establishing a loyal following starts with specializing in a particular video game or type of content. When these streamers switch from their main content to explore new opportunities, they often encounter challenges such as significant viewer drop-offs. This presents a considerable risk for companies looking to work with creators to promote new games - unexpected audience drop-offs during sponsored content can turn a great collaboration into a bad deal for both the sponsor and creator.

In this article, we will delve into the reasons behind viewer drop-offs when streamers switch titles and explore trends that can assist in predicting the magnitude of these drop-offs or avoid them altogether! By identifying the key predictors of audience drop-off, we can select creators with audiences more likely to be engaged or excited to see new content. Doing so allows you to run the best-performing campaigns while building strong relationships with creators and their communities.

Should you Market Candyland to Chess Players?

To begin, we will look into the impact of genre on audience drop-off. When an influencer marketing team searches for the most suitable creators for their titles, they often focus on fanbases of various related genres. This strategy makes sense at first glance as it ensures the selection of creators with a proven track record of success in those target audiences. These teams run into trouble when they assume that a creator's audience will automatically transition to a new game simply because it's similar. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.

So, which genres tend to possess the most stubborn audiences? Which genres contain viewers who are more open to new content?  To understand how audience drop-off varies between game genres, we looked at focused creators (those who create 50% or more of their content from one game) and analyzed their audience drop-off when they switched to any other game.

It turns out that chess might have an adamant audience.

Upon review, one theme sticks out immediately: barrier to entry. Genres with high drop-off, such as real-time strategy (RTS), are often perceived as challenging to engage with, requiring a significant time commitment compared to others. As such, these are usually difficult games for building a loyal fanbase.

By comparison, the low drop-off genres have games that are fairly easy to understand or require little time to learn the fundamental gameplay mechanics. They are also typically marketed towards a more casual player who doesn’t have hours of time to play a session. Another noticeable trait is length of play. Many higher drop-off games involve long, arduous sessions by necessity, but the lower drop-off games are either more relaxed or extremely quick, round-to-round.

Surprisingly, genre popularity doesn’t seem to have much impact on audience drop-off. Games from niche genres like puzzle, gacha, RTS, and auto-battlers were found in both the best- and worst-performing segments. Similarly, popular genres like FPS, Battle Royale, and MMOs were also found in both the top- and bottom-performing groups.

When judging a game’s “stickiness” what truly matters is the investment required to understand. Individuals who engage with content related to RTS or MMORPGS are typically deeply knowledgeable and dedicated to these games. They likely go to a creator primarily for their expertise in the game rather than their personality. After all, if you’re in a seminar with a famous biologist, you likely don’t want to hear the expert talk about the French Revolution. This is not intended to dissuade you from promoting one of these games on Twitch. It's simply highlighting the increased importance of choosing creators with engaged audiences rather than solely informed audiences.

What About Marketing Checkers to Chess Players?

Above, we looked at generalized cases but have yet to get specific. Of course, conventional wisdom would tell us that a World of Warcraft audience would likely not care to see Fortnite, but what about…another MMO? One seemingly intuitive approach to promoting a new game involves selecting an individual who heavily engages with a game in the same genre as theirs. Is this always a good strategy?

Here are some examples of focused creators’ main titles and subsequent viewership drop-offs when creators switch to games within the same genre:

Well, you’re definitely not using Hearthstone to promote Checkers.

While these are just a few examples, these are some titles that are often used as the “go-to” of their genres. On average, the results of using creators who mainly play these games are disastrous! Choosing creators who excel in similar games is essential, but it's just as important to choose creators who can excel in multiple games within that genre rather than just one in which they may be seen as a paragon.

How Much is Too Much?

You can see that exclusively targeting the pillar of a specific genre isn’t the best approach. Next, you should consider whether the creator’s share of content on a game becomes more of a burden than a benefit. The graph below shows how viewership reacts to a creator switching off their primary title. We grouped creators by how much of their content is dedicated to their primary game. For example, on average, a creator with 60% of their content dedicated to their primary title would see a 10% drop-off when switching off their primary game.

It looks like 80% is a bit too much.

You can see a negative trend between primary content share and viewership change when switching games. Variety creators don't experience the same drop-off as the focused creators- they actually see an increase in viewership. This is likely because viewers want to see new content rather than revisited content when watching variety creators. When most of your content is dedicated to one game, viewers become increasingly demanding of that consistency. This could be because viewers begin to see focused creators as subject matter experts and come to them specifically for their opinions on their title of choice.

Notably, creator size doesn’t significantly impact these numbers, meaning influencer program managers can leverage this principle whether their campaign budget is $10,000 or $1,000,000.

Suppose the goal of your influencer marketing campaign is to minimize viewer drop-off and reach as many viable targets for your title as possible. In that case, we recommend selecting creators whose content is not heavily concentrated on one particular game. Viewers who are receptive to trying out new games tend to follow influencers for their personal preferences rather than their expert knowledge of a specific franchise. Hiring a franchise expert to promote your new game is a lot like asking a surgeon to treat your sore throat. People rely on them for their expertise in their field rather than for their comprehensive knowledge.

It's important for creators you work with to effectively communicate and differentiate the unique aspects of the game compared to all of your competitors. By ensuring that creators have less than half of their content dedicated to one game, you can minimize risks and focus on targeting the most suitable influencer audiences for your campaign. As the concentration on a single game exceeds 50%, the level of risk escalates rapidly. We advise putting your marketing in the hands of the general practitioners of gaming out there.

In conclusion, when selecting creators for your influencer campaign, it's crucial to consider the content choice and the diversity of content they can offer. Striking a balance between targeted game content and broad appeal can be challenging. Still, it’s essential to recognize the value of an audience receptive to a wide range of content a creator promotes. It’s entirely okay to market Candyland to Chess players; just make sure those Chess players also have a bit of Guess Who, Shoots and Ladders, and so on in their content!