The ever-growing prominence of gameplay videos on YouTube has led to a new and hugely successful method for big and small developers alike to sell more games and connect with their users.
And that’s not through gameplay trailers, which play their part of course. It’s the user generated content such as the Let’s Play videos and player reviews that are attracting the biggest audiences.
Unity is now aiming to capitalise on the space with the acquisition of Applifier, bringing in its GameAds network and video sharing Everyplay service, which automatically records gameplay on mobile titles it is integrated with. These videos can then be shared on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and the Everyplay site itself.
The game engine firm wants Unity developers to start integrating the tool into their games, and is working on cutting down integration times from two minutes and 15 seconds to just one second.
Despite Unity’s acquisition, Unity CEO David Helgason Helgason and Applifier CEO Jussi Laakkonen were keen to stress that Everyplay will still be available for all SDKs, and not just Unity, but the goal now is to be fully integrated with Unity’s game engine, increase ease-of-use for developers and offer another avenue to promote their game.
"There’s really two questions and challenges that developers live and die by, the first is being successful and the economical production of games, and the second is being connected with audiences," Unity’s Helgason tells Develop.
"The second part has many approaches to it, and the worst one is hoping to be featured or being in the top ten on the store, which works for very few people. There’s also buying ads and traffic, which can be good but over expensive sometimes.
"The most exciting of these ways of connecting with an audience I think is Everyplay. When Jussi launched Everyplay a year ago I was really excited by it, and it has worked out really well, they’ve been going gangbusters with it."
He adds: "We believe that getting Everyplay and GameAds to the Unity audience globally can make the services much better and make the developers using them more successful by extension."
Applifier CEO Jussi Laakkonen says video sharing is the most authentic way for players to discover a game. He explains that recommendations from friends, or even from a stranger such as with YouTube videos, creates a strong resonance that could lead to someone becoming a paying player.
"Seeing the game in action, and seeing the excitement from a friend or even a random person if they genuinely like the game and want to tell you about it, there’s something magical about that," he says.
"What we’ve been trying to do with Everyplay is try and capture that magic and make it available online. What Everyplay does is it automatically records the game to video while you play. You can even include yourself on the camera or audio if you want to comment on that video, and it does it all the time without you thinking about it."
Laakkonen goes on to say that enabling automatic video recording and making games easier to share also makes up for the lack of innovation in the user acquisition space, which can often be expensive and is generally the realm of the large mobile companies like Zynga and King.
He says bringing the word of mouth of friends away from just face to face discussions and bringing it online is a key benefit of video sharing, and will help promote a developer’s title.
"I have this really cheesy tagline, you share if you care. People don’t share videos if the game isn’t speaking to them," he says.
"Those games that really deserve to be shared get shared and get more visibility. And that’s exciting because those games that are really good connect with that audience and are going to get that bigger audience which they deserve."
Helgason compares promotion on mobile and the web to that of advertisements on primetime television, but now companies can arguably reach their audience amongst the billions of people connected to these devices, rather than the tens of millions on TV.
"Of course if you do just advertise blank broadly, it’s going to be insanely expensive. But inside these two, four or five billion people, there will be micro-audiences, which are not necessarily small, but millions of people, that you can reach and connect with with your games," explains Helgason.
"It’s going to be about finding them and the best way to find them is this viral, authentic distribution of something people feel is cool, and Everyplay is that. And GameAds reaches the audience in a different way, but to a high quality audience.
"We think this is really going to have a big impact, that’s why we’re doing this. We haven’t been an acquisition-focused company, in fact we’ve almost never acquired anything before, except when we acquired Mecanim, the animation technology which has also really changed what Unity is. So this is a big deal for us."