In January 2017 Space Ape Games organised ‘London’s Best 0f 2017 Indie Dev Influencers Junket’, from which it was able to develop a number of influencer relationships.
Its subsequent campaign for racing title Fastlane: Road to Revenge was a direct result of its success. InfluencerUpdate spoke to Space Ape’s Jodi Sahlin about how the developer infused YouTube culture into the core of its game.
Thanks to Space Ape’s Influencer Junket, the developer was able to forge direct, non-agency relationships with a number of big influencers including Kwebbelkop (7.6m subscribers), Jelly (7.3m), Alvaro (3.8m), Slogoman (3.7m), Papa Jake (3.7m), Chief Pat (2.5m), Azzyland (2.4m), Master OV (2.4m), TheRealSmithPlays (1.7m), Coleson Comedy (1.6m), Galadon (1.4m), Jobless Garrett (1.4m), Sanna (958k), Bootramp (516k), Clash on Gan (465k), AndroiMers (445k), Leah Ashe (264k) and TheGameHuntah (100k). It was hoped these shared 30m subscribers would lead to strong installation numbers for the game – which indeed they did.
“We don’t believe in paying influencers for a campaign,” Sahlin tells InfluencerUpdate. “We took a unique approach by incentivising them to upload, with each influencer posting a minimum of four videos aligned with social posts.”
Space Ape partnered with influencers who gravitated toward the early build of Fastlane at the event as opposed to seeking out potential partners itself, the idea being that those who showed interest did so because they felt their audience was already a good fit.
From the off, the goal with Fastlane was to place YouTube personalities right at the heart of the game, reflecting their personalities in both the gameplay and story. After 20 influencer partners were selected, they were each recreated in-game as bosses. Space Ape also went to great lengths to engage with the community as much as possible.
“Each channel has their own unique catchphrase, superstition, or inside joke that only their core audience would understand,” Sahlin explains. “We wanted to capture the essence of whatever that was for the individual influencer and tied that into this event."
“We ran a charity drive contest incentivising the influencers to ask their fan base to choose their character as an avatar in-game. At the end of the month we 'adopted' a monkey from the local sanctuary (Monkey World) and renamed the monkey after the most popular channel.”
Influencers also each got their own weekend-long in-game event, throughout which they encouraged users to install via a specific link that would in turn grant them a free boost.
Space Ape even branded up an open-top bus that cruised around London for six hours with some of the influencers and rapper guest star Harry Shotta, who wrote a tailored song for the event.
YouTuber Kwebbelkop said of the event at the time: “This is such a unique opportunity to interact with my fans; I’ve never encountered something like this before. It will also be super cool to align with some of my YouTuber friends and compete against others as we race through the streets of Fastlane.”
Nailing down the likeness of each YouTuber was a bigger job than Space Ape had anticipated, as was the task of trying to accurately reflect their tone in-game. However, the developer was delighted at how easy it was to work with the influencers and how cooperative they all were.
“We think it’s really important to have that one-on-one relationship with the influencers so they are fully involved with the development of the game and up to speed on the campaign,” Sahlin explains. “Being a team of one and handling the correspondence, negotiations, and everything related to the creative part of the campaign did have its challenges with 20+ YouTubers, but in the end we arrived at our goal and everyone was happy.”
Sahlin adds that, after initial contact, she prefers to communicate with influencers over chat platforms such as Skype as opposed to email as it’s more conversational and tends to come more naturally to the demographic.
The videos created as a result of the campaign generated over 21m views. Installations driven by subscribers of partner influencers showed far higher levels of retention, too.
“The campaign was very successful,” Sahlin states. “The YouTubers were genuinely interested and involved in the campaign from the beginning, that really came across in their videos. The content was unique and super fun for their viewers. There was no negative feedback, loss of subscribers or kickback from their community.
“The integration was a big hit for the YouTubers and their fanbase. The video content was fun and watchable. I would have liked to have seen the campaign go viral, of course, but I think that the longevity of the campaign proves that we really nailed it.”
• Respect the influencer’s community with content that fits.
• Make sure the influencers are fully involved and passionate about your project.
• As much as possible, try to tailor your product around the influencer – this will be much more successful than another sponsored walkthrough.
• Work with an influencer directly and have them involved in the process from day one – this is very important for messaging.