We caught up with Steve Filby, Marketing Manager at Motion Twin, an indie game studio based in Bordeaux, France, to talk about their wildly popular game Dead Cells and its integration with Twitch.
Dead Cells had one of the most innovative Twitch game integrations in 2018. Leveraging Chat, Dead Cells uses chat commands that let game viewers play an active role in the outcome of the game for the streamer.
TwitchDev: Tell us a little about your company, goals, and experience with Twitch. Filby: Our goals with Twitch have always been about reaching new players and engaging with them. We’re acutely aware of the cult status that Twitch has developed among gamers and the way that’s changed the landscape in terms of how to get noticed. These days, there are literally hundreds of games coming out each week (even if you’re only competing against the five good ones), as well as many, many esports and F2P games that command a huge share of the audience at all times, so you really have to be thinking about how to break in and get some eyeballs on your new title.
Our experience has been that if you pay attention to the most important discoverability platform on the internet and build a strategy around it, as well as make an exceptional — good is no longer enough — game, then you can break through the noise.
TwitchDev: Can you tell us a little about the Dead Cells integration and where the idea came from? Filby: Well, the idea really came from trying to work out how to get streamers to cover our game a second time, given that we launched into early access and a lot of people had already played the game. We needed to offer them something that was built for them and took their needs into account, so we talked to a bunch of them and asked what they needed as streamers.
Overwhelmingly, they told us that new, exciting ways to engage with their audience was really what was missing. They often referenced the few “good” integrations that they had seen (Choice Chamber, etc.) and encouraged us to do something like that. So we did.
TwitchDev: Who did you build this integration for? We built it for streamers, particularly our friends who have followed and pushed the game since early access. They worked with us giving us ideas, beta testing for us, and generally helping us to build something that they could use to engage their audience.
Obviously, to engage the audience, the thing needs to be fun for the viewers too, so we built the platforms as much for the viewers as for the streamer, perhaps a little more so in terms of the gameplay. Chat can really give the streamer hell if they want!
__TwitchDev: What does the integration contribute to the Twitch community? The integration is really meant to create a new type of hybrid gameplay, where a kind of hive mind collective of people (Chat) are all playing with or against the streamer. This really makes the viewers feel like they’re part of the game — because they literally are. Chat will literally replace some of the algorithms of the game, replacing the Random Number Generator (RNG) with ChatNG and allowing for bargaining between the streamer and the game; you can’t beg your game to give you good RNG, but you sure can beg Chat.
We’ve noticed that the integration is seen as a kind of extra value by the streamers in that they use it complimentary with their standard runs of the game. It provides a new way of interaction with the fans and an entirely new way of playing the game, kind of like an NG+.
TwitchDev: Can you talk about any events you’ve done in conjunction with the integration? Our launch (PC 1.0 and console) was built entirely around our Twitch strategy and the integration was a core part of our “second” launch. Basically, we used the integration to build buzz among bigger streamers. About three weeks before launch, we were distributing the integration to hand-picked friends and key people. This piqued the interest of certain bigger guys, so when it was time for our PR team to reach out and hustle for reviews and coverage, we already had a decent amount of inbound requests for access. This allowed us to reach a huge audience during the launch week.
In fact, it was something that really, really surprised us in terms of impact. We pretty much doubled our all-time minutes watched count in a month…
TwitchDev: What results and community response have you seen so far? As I mentioned above, we pretty much doubled our all-time minutes watched count in a month.
Since then, we’ve seen a baseline pickup in the amount of people continuing to stream the game after an initial playthrough and our base audience numbers have gone up. It’s just been across the board a success.
TwitchDev: What are your future plans or considerations? What else would you like to build? We’re actually in the process of building an influence program; the idea being to reward streamers and viewers alike for playing, watching, and generally liking our game. So we’re thinking about ways that we can include some kind of non-abusive incentive program in the integration.
Outside of that, we’ve got a bunch of ideas about how to improve the actual gameplay. We’d like to consider an actual Extension, but right now we’re holding out for an official game SDK. Basically anything that we can do to reduce latency will allow us to include a bunch more real-time stuff, things where the player and the viewer can work together in a much more direct way.
I’d really like to see a more custom version of the game available, too. For example, Chat could choose from all of the known levels in the game and put them in any order they wanted for the streamer to playthrough. Really giving the keys to the community when it comes to creating challenges for the streamer.
For more information on Dead Cells or Motion Twin, visit motion-twin.com.
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