When we launched Hyper Sentinel back in May, we promoted it as “the world’s first interactive live-stream arcade game” thanks to its unique Mixer integration. Now five months on, we are ready to share conclusions from our Mixer post-mortem, including key data on the impact it had on sales and marketing.
The decision to implement Mixer mode in Hyper Sentinel was partly driven by a natural desire to create a compelling, cutting edge experience for players, but it was also a strategic decision from a marketing point of view. From this perspective it has been effective, but there are lessons to learn.
Mixer itself is platform agnostic, but the API for interactive integration was only available on the Steam and Xbox platforms when we were developing Hyper Sentinel. Of these, the key platform for measuring success is Xbox, where Mixer is deeply woven into the consumer experience and has prime positioning on the dashboard. Indeed, when we have hosted our own streams, we have observed that a solid majority of viewers are logging in on Xbox.
A key metric for measuring the success of our Mixer integration has therefore been our Xbox One sales figures for Hyper Sentinel. It will not surprise you to hear that Nintendo Switch is our best selling platform to date, but it may surprise you to know that Xbox One is in a solid second place. In fact, when we launched in May it was the Xbox One platform which took an early sales lead, and it took a good three weeks for Nintendo Switch sales to overtake it. By comparing to all the other platforms, we estimate that our Xbox One sales are at least double what they would have been without Mixer integration, and that is a conservative estimate.
This boost in Xbox One sales relative to other platforms occurred primarily on launch day, before being overtaken by Nintendo Switch sales. This indicates that it was the activity around this time, rather than subsequent Mixer streaming, which was most effective. This included:
It is difficult to ascertain which of these was most effective, but I suspect the additional visibility of Hyper Sentinel due to the Mixer featuring and the Game Fest promotion were key.
Naturally we did some separate promotion of our own focusing on Mixer, including a press release, video promo and the odd interview, but the impact of these does not appear to be significant looking at the data.
Our conclusion is simple. There are not many games with Mixer interactive integration at present, and as one of the first we benefited from extra launch visibility on the Xbox One platform. This, of course, was the calculation we made when we committed to implementing the Mixer interactive mode in Hyper Sentinel, as we discussed in a PC Games Insider article shortly after launch.
Although the launch marketing clearly had by far the biggest impact, the ongoing statistics for the Mixer effect are worth examining. As a verified channel, and as one of the few Mixer interactive games, we have enjoyed being regularly featured on Mixer when we have hosted our own streams of Hyper Sentinel. Here are some statistics for our streams:
In September, we were able to implement a new feature allowing us to add a Direct Purchase button to our channel. When clicked on, this takes viewers straight to the store page for the Xbox version of Hyper Sentinel.
The Mixer team agreed to boost our featured ranking for this update, which also coincided with a 33% off sale for the Xbox version. Here are the relevant statistics:
Obviously 7 unit sales via Direct Purchase is nothing to write home about, and was a drop in the ocean compared to the total increase in Xbox unit sales during that period, which included the 33% discount. However, as a percentage of followers gained, which you might consider to be engaged viewers, 0.88% is a fairly typical, albeit unspectacular, conversion rate for most marketing activity in our experience. As an aside, we also had several viewers in chat mentioning that they had purchased Hyper Sentinel on a platform other than Xbox as a result of viewing, so PS4, Steam and Nintendo Switch also gained a handful of unit sales as a result of the streaming activity, meaning that 0.88% figure was more like 2% across all platforms.
Naturally the real key to boosting sales through post-launch streaming is getting other people to stream your game in order to increase the total number of hours streamed. Ideally, you need big, partnered streamers with lots of followers. Remember, Hyper Sentinel has regularly been featured on Mixer. If it hadn’t been, our statistics for “views” and subsequently “followers gained” would have been much lower for the same number of hours streamed. In truth, I expect that getting lots of hours and getting partnered streamers engaged go hand in hand, since partner streamers will react to whatever is popular.
In this area, we have not been successful with Hyper Sentinel, other than during the launch day promotion when partners knew that streaming Hyper Sentinel meant guaranteed visibility for their stream.
As much as we would love to claim otherwise, Hyper Sentinel is not a smash hit title. It has always been, and always will be, a niche product funded on Kickstarter by a niche, retro-gaming community. This is not to diminish that community in any way, for what they lack in size, they more than make up for in enthusiasm, maturity and connectedness. Nevertheless, breaking into the rotation of partner streamers who are locked into making their money from Fortnite was never going to happen for this particular game, even if it is the world’s first interactive live-stream arcade game.
However, I do think that Mixer presents indie developers with a tantalizing opportunity. Here is a platform offering something completely novel – interactive live stream gaming – which is yet to find its must-have experience, and which is not currently locked out by AAA blockbusters, except in the non-interactive streaming realm. At some point, a game is going to appear which captures the potential of interactive live streaming, probably from an indie developer, and in the meantime the marketing boost it can provide on the Xbox platform, even if it is only significant on launch day, makes Mixer a compelling consideration for indie teams.