E3 2017 Media Coverage Analysis – aka “Who won the E3 media battle?”

[EDIT – the dataset initially used didn’t properly cover the articles published on the 10th of June, making the EA coverage much lower than it should be. I have replaced the following graphs: Top 15 Games; Publishers Conferences Compared; Publishers in the Media]

It’s that time of year again: the week after E3, and time for me to go over the numbers and media coverage from the show, as per tradition. If this the first time for you, please fee free to have a look at the methodology used, and read the blog posts for 2015 and 2016.

Platforms

First, looking at the biggest players at E3, the console manufacturers, in many ways this was an interesting year in light of their performance at previous E3’s.

For the first time since we started measuring media coverage at E3 in 2014, Sony is not leading. It has to be said that the gap between them and Microsoft is very small, but this comes on the back of Microsoft growing for the 4th year in a row, and where Sony had its 3rd best performance out of 4 companies (on the back of its best performance last year).

Nintendo, on the other hand, has had its best E3, doubling the coverage they got last year. The Switch is clearly a commercial success and is also popular with the media. With a smaller lineup than its competitors, it is quite the performance for them. The wider 3rd party program, with Ubisoft’s partnership at the forefront, is likely a significant contribution.

Like last year, I created a Google Spreadsheet to list all the announcements done at E3’s press events – feel free to have a look for your own analysis of the lineup announced for each company:

https://twitter.com/icotom/status/874684542220722176

Personally, here are my thoughts on the 3 manufacturer press events:

  • Microsoft. It was their best E3 conference to date, as far as I am concerned. They finally hit the right tone in their announcements. However, nothing they have announced is really pushing the Xbox consoles over their competitors. Not many exclusives that would drive someone to pick an Xbox over anything else. The Xbox One X, if anything, is a console for the convinced customer, the one already in the ecosystem.
  • Sony. The conference wasn’t mind-blowing, and the media coverage reflects this, but I think Sony was just playing it safe. There have been enough PlayStation exclusives to come out ahead of the show to allow them to message the console as the better alternative in terms of catalogue. The numerous VR games shown was a great reminder of the PlayStation VR, a strong differentiator when compared to other consoles. My biggest issue with the event was the format. It was hard to understand if the pre-show was meant to be considered as part of the main event – and many of the more interesting projects were revealed there. I will also note that during the show, the dates of this year’s PlayStation Experience were announced. This is a strong message that PSX is becoming the main press event for Sony, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve held back a number of high-profile announcements.
  • Nintendo. The numbers are quite telling – this was the best E3 for Nintendo in years. They were coming off of the back of an excellent launch for the Switch, and announced a number of high-profile games that are coming out very soon for the console. In terms of short-term hype, this was brilliantly executed. I am still somewhat confused by the Pokemon and Metroid Prime 4 announcements – they are likely to hype a core fanbase, and have the risk of setting expectations beyond what is being developed. I find announcements of this type are better done with something to show in order to frame what is being put together. But who knows with Nintendo? They may well knock these titles straight out of the ballpark.

Looking at specific platforms, a few things are interesting to highlight:

The Switch got more coverage than the Xbox One X last week – which is impressive considering the higher profile of the Xbox brand. Also impressive: the 3DS is still getting a decent amount of coverage.

 

The main point to consider, looking at the reach of each console, is the fact that the Xbox brand seems to be very good at getting covered by higher profile media. The short lead the Xbox One has over the PS4 is translated to a more significant lead in reach. And the Xbox One X, being slightly behind in terms of the number of articles compared to the Switch, sees a significant lead when considering the corresponding reach.

Finally, I wanted to check the VR device coverage, to compare it with last years.

Again, PSVR is leading. But, there were about half as many articles as at last E3. That’s a steep decline, most likely due to the fact that the speculation on VR is now in a different phase, with all the devices on the market and being known quantities.

Games

Like the previous year, I looked at the top games based on the volume of media coverage.

 

Here are a few thoughts coming to me immediately after looking at this list of games:

  • [This was what was initially written in the article] EA didn’t do as well as last year. At that time, they had two games that had more than 2,000 articles. This year, Anthem, their best performing game, doesn’t reach that threshold. It’s interesting to note that Anthem is the only newly announced IP on the list.
  • [EDIT –  Anthem and Star Wars Battlefront 2 show up as two very strong titles in the EA line-up, bringing the total number of games passing the 2,000 articles during E3 week to 3 this year, compared to 5 in 2016. EA keeps 2 titles in that threshold though, a solid, constant performance.]
  • Assassin’s Creed Origins is leading for a number of reasons: the game was featured significantly at 2 press events (Microsoft and Ubisoft) on top of being playable at E3.
  • Skyrim is marked with an asterisk because it featured in a few different capacities: the Switch Port during the Nintendo conference, the PSVR port during the Sony conference, as well as the fact that the next expansion for Elder Scrolls Legends is featuring Skyrim. This means it’s more difficult than usual to point to this as a game singularly featured.
  • With only one game in the 2,000+ articles category for coverage, 2017 is a year with weaker big game announcements than 2016 (which had 5 games in the 2,000+). It says nothing about the quality of the games of course – it is purely a statement of their media coverage.

There were 3 publisher-powered press conferences this year, with Square Enix skipping it again this year. Ubisoft, after three years of growth, is finally coming on top, in large part thanks to the Assassin’s Creed Origins coverage.

[This was what was initially written in the article] EA didn’t seem to manage to secure the right attention. It might be the EA Play formula that didn’t work as well as last year (a single location this time), it might mean the lineup didn’t catch the attention in the same way that last year did. It has to be said that FIFA 18 being a top game for EA this year isn’t actually a good sign, as FIFA 18 didn’t get as much coverage as FIFA 17 had last year. The most disappointing of all is the coverage for Battlefront 2, considering the power of the Star Wars brand and the release this winter of Episode 8.

[EDIT – With the proper dataset, EA’s performance is much more in line with the profile of the company over the past few years, with Star Wars Battlefront II as a top game, and Anthem’s performing very well, in great part due to the double featuring at the EA conference and the Microsoft event]

Bethesda did OK – the two new games obviously getting most of the coverage. But the really strong IPs of the publisher, Elder Scrolls and Fallout, had no revolutionary announcements around them, and in that respect, Bethesda still performed quite well considering.

Finally, Ubisoft’s conference was praised by many attendees and analysts as the best of the show. It had a wide range or projects showcased, an unexpected number of new projects revealed. The lineup was very strong, and then Ubisoft also managed to throw a few curve balls. The fact that they’re going after the declining toys-to-life market with Starlink was totally unexpected, for instance.

Looking into the publishers’ names and how often they were mentioned in the media reinforces the apparent success of Ubisoft:

All 3 companies with a press event did far better than all the others which didn’t. Bethesda and EA both had significantly less coverage than last year though (-25% for EA; -15% for Bethesda). And to nail down Ubisoft’s stellar performance this year, you can look at the progression over the past two years:

Case studies

No short selection of games for this year’s case studies. Instead, I looked at how 2 games’ coverage evolved year-on-year, and how two games from Klei compared to each other a year apart.

After its 4th year being featured at E3, Cuphead is finally going to be released. This illustrates quite nicely how much having a release date helps you coverage-wise. At this point, the game has been covered a lot over the years. The fatigue shows through the numbers at E3 2016, so the 2017 numbers overall indicate a very good performance for a game of that profile.

In its third year at E3, the Dontnod title coverage illustrates a few interesting points:

  • Its first year at E3, the game wasn’t featured at any conference, and it had a very decent coverage considering.
  • Last year, it was featured during the PC Gaming Show, showing the significant visibility this smaller press conference can still bring you.
  • This year is the last one before the game releases. The date has been announced, a feature video was released the previous week (and thus mostly absent in the numbers above), gameplay was at the center of the communication at this E3’s beats. A strong coverage overall, even if not in the range of blockbusters.

These projects by Klei are very interesting to compare: they were both revealed at the PC Gaming Show. It is very difficult to get comparable data over time, but this is quite interesting – two games by the same developer, announced at the same conference at E3.

I haven’t shared data over the PC Gaming Show in the past, and it is mostly because the branding is not as strong and many announcements get relayed without mentioning the event. The fact that a games media outlet is attached to the event as the organizer might play a significant part too. Anyhow, there is evidence of growth in coverage for games featured at this event, and Klei’s games illustrate this quite nicely.

Closing words

I have always felt a bit conflicted about titling these articles “Who won E3?” as there is much more to the data than that. However, this year’s E3 is a bit of an exception. The announcements made, the reaction of the media to them, the progress of the media coverage over the past few years; all of this make me want to declare two, very complementary “winners”.

Nintendo – as they come back into the spotlight and significantly increase their media presence, this has certainly been the best E3 in years for them.

Ubisoft – with their numerous announcements, the way they were orchestrated, and the stellar execution of the Beyond Good and Evil 2 trailer release, all explain how they ended up as the leading publisher of this E3 in terms of coverage.

And I want to think that the two companies’ partnership also played a big role, and is probably not a coincidence considering the position they both have at present in the industry, and their respective challenges.

A few technical notes

Why Nintendo and not the Wii?

In the graphs on consoles over the past 3 years, I am comparing the PlayStation and Xbox brands to Nintendo. The fact is that the other consoles have consistent brands whereas Nintendo machines are using multiple brands. Moreover, Sony and Microsoft are two companies with activities spread across multiple industries and cannot fairly be compared to Nintendo, when we look at articles on games. Nintendo is also a strong publisher, and its brand is more established than one of its consoles, compared to Sony and Microsoft. Comparing platforms to brands is the best way to have comparable results to look at the Nintendo brand, rather than the Wii for instance (or even a combination of the Nintendo consoles).

What is the reach value?

* Like last year, I am referring a few times to the notion of reach. Here is a reminder about it:

The following graph requires some pre-explanation. In order to measure the magnitude of an article, with have created a formula based on the websites’ Alexa ranking to give their articles different “weight”. The more popular the website, the more weight we give to their article. This value is called Reach in our tools and range from 0.1 to 10. For example, currently, Eurogamer.net has a reach of 10, Gamasutra.com has a reach of 8, Road to VR has a reach of 6. So what you see below, is a chart of the total reach of all the articles showed above. We refresh the reach values constantly.

Six Tips to Get a (Better) Metacritic Score

For almost seven years, part of my job in the video games industry has been to look at, analyze and predict review scores of games. I’ve done this for a variety of different clients, from my previous employer EA to a host of smaller and bigger indie developers. At ICO, we have quite a bit of experience and knowledge in supporting game launches. Whenever a release of a game comes close, one of the things that always pops up, without fail, is Metacritic and review scores.

Quite a lot of times, we are answering the same questions and dispelling the same myths. That’s why I thought it would be nice to have all those answers in a handy, online guide. If you use or are interested in Metacritic, the following Six Tips to Get a (Better) Metacritic Score might be for you.

Before we start, a little disclaimer. We won’t be talking about the ramifications of a review score, or if they are really necessary, or if we should just use user or Steam reviews instead. We also won’t be talking about that other excellent aggregated score platform, Opencritic.  With that out of the way, let’s begin.

Why Care About a Metacritic Score?

Well, why should you care about Metacritic? First off, regardless of whether you think Metacritic is relevant or not, it shows up in some interesting places: for instance, on the Steam store page of a game, as well as in Google results if you search for a specific title. And, of course, it is still relevant if your client, employer or publisher cares about it for internal accountability or development milestones.  

Depending on the genre, platform, type of outlet and popularity of a game, an AAA title can see over 100 critic reviews on Metacritic, but the vast majority of the games will only be reviewed by a handful of outlets. In most cases, indie games won’t get a Metascore at all.

That’s a shame because there are some relatively easy tricks to get listed and to boost the number of review scores.

 

Tip 1: Understand how Metacritic works

Information on how Metacritic works is readily available and can be found on for instance on the official website.To lift their own description from the site itself:

To put it simply, a METASCORE is a weighted average of reviews from top critics and publications for a given movie, TV show, video game, or album.”

If you delve a bit deeper, a couple of important details, easily overlooked due to their simplicity but important nonetheless, start appearing:

  • A game needs 4 reviews to receive a Metascore.
  • If your game is multiplatform, each individual platform will need a further four scores before a Metascore for that platform is listed.
  • Reviews are never counted twice across the platforms.
  • Metascores change their colour from acclaimed green to yellow at 75, and from yellow to that fearful red at 50.  
  • A Metascore stabilizes around 20 reviews. Before this happens, every new score added can change the aggregated Metascore pretty significantly.

 

Tip 2: Find out what Metacritic listed sites are out there

Actually, Metacritic provides an official list, which you can find here. It is easily overlooked but tells us which outlets are in the system. It gives the developer, publisher, or PR agency quite a bit of agency because it’s from this list of accredited media the aggregated scores are pulled from. Take a closer look and you’ll find the following:

The official media list is divided in general interest media (left) and game media, both print and online websites (right). The outlets on the right are the ones to watch out for.

  • The total list contains roughly 170 different game websites, from the well-known IGN to Spanish big hitter Meristation and renowned general interest news site, The Guardian. There are also some other general interest media such as the Washington Post or the New York Times listed, but these only are relevant for the biggest of titles.  
  • There is no country listing, but at a glance, it’s easy to see that the vast majority of the media listed are English speaking. There are currently around 70 European media listed, not accounting for English outlets which publish both in the UK and USA.
  • Some websites don’t provide scores but are still listed, such as the venerable Rock, Paper, Shotgun, Kotaku or Eurogamer. They are shown on a game’s page, but unprocessed and don’t add up to the final score.

This line-up doesn’t change often but it’s worthwhile to check the list on a regular basis.

 

Tip 3: Choose your Metacritic targets accordingly

It’s pretty obvious that if you want to have a Metacritic score, you’ll only have to deal with those 130+ outlets which are listed on the site itself. Not only that, a fair number of these might not even be relevant to you for instance if they only cover mobile games (148Apps) or only cover Xbox titles (SomosXbox).

The main issue with not getting reviews has everything to with the limited amount of time and manpower most of these media have to cover new games. They are overworked, and at certain times of the year (E3, Christmas period) have all their time booked up by triple AAA titles weeks and weeks in advance. Finding a spot to check out a new game is a difficult undertaking for a critic, especially with the vast amount of games being released. For instance, Steam sees on average between 70 to 120 titles launching every week.

You want to know the best way to make your game grab attention AND get those elusive journalists to talk about your game? Do check out this excellent GDC talk from my esteemed colleague Thomas Reisenegger.

By the way: did you know that at ICO, we have a free weekly newsletter which will show you all the weekly Steam releases? If you are interested, don’t hesitate to follow this link and subscribe.

 

Tip 4: Focus on the right Metacritic-friendly countries

Research the list and concentrate your effort. Certain countries are under-represented while others have a greater proportion of their outlets featured. Case in point: France versus Italy, with the former only having 2 smaller, Metacritic-listed websites (Gameblog.fr and JeuxActu) while the latter has 7 (Eurogamer.it, Everyeye, The Games Machine, Spaziogames, etc.)  

Smaller media in smaller countries are way easier to reach out to. They have a much a higher chance of being able to spend some time reviewing a game flying under the radar.

 

Tip 5:  Remind the media

One of the reasons that there is a discrepancy in the number of high-profile critics for each country on Metacritic is that most of the traffic on the platform is English. Accredited media outlets must submit their own score, plus a written summary in English, to be included on the site. This clearly decreases the incentive for other-language based media to receive the fruits of Metacritic (more traffic, more clicks).

What this also means is that media outlets sometimes review a game but forget to submit their score. If they’ve reviewed your game but the review is not yet on Metacritic: give them a gentle nudge and a friendly reminder, and more likely than not, they will update their review on Metacritic.  

 

Tip 6:  Don’t try to change a score

It will happen that reviews will come in with a score that feels unfair. What also happens is that a review can read positively, but the score doesn’t correspond. Also, when you have a multiplatform release, you don’t know under which platform certain scores will appear. All these things can have an effect on the Metascore and one thing we notice with the above concern is that developers or publishers always want to do something about this.

 rick and morty show me what you got GIFInstead of just saying it, better to use the power of the GIF in combination with one of the greatest animated series to underscore this tip. 

Truth be told, there is little to be done. For instance, most critics specifically list which platform a game was reviewed upon (and this will be duly reflected on which platform the score will appear).

The following is a bit bleak but deserves to be mentioned. Asking a media outlet to change a score is a big no-no. The same goes for asking Metacritic to switch scores around. If you update a game after it’s release, expecting an update on a score, it won’t happen. Once an outlet submits a score, it will remain.

Who can forget Polygon’s glowing review of 2013’s Simcity, a resounding 9.5 which was duly posted to Metacritic? One of the first out of the gate, the review got published before the game had launched, but after server problems snowballed out of control and the game saw some very harsh criticism, Polygon changed their review score not once, not twice, but three times before settling on a final score of 6.5. The original review on Metacritic never changed, as the site’s policy is to only accept a publication’s first score. When a score hits Metacritic, it sticks.

 

Final thoughts

Boiling it down to a tl;dr section, we would finish off by condensing the above into a few supertips:

  • Supertip 1: Do your homework on which Metacritic-approved media outlets you’d like to target.
  • Supertip 2: Try to get at least 4 scores in order to get listed.
  • Supertip 3: Reach out to smaller media in non-English-speaking countries.
  • Supertip 4: Focus on websites that take an interest in the genre or specific platform of the game.
  • Supertip 5: Don’t forget to remind media outlets to post their reviews on Metacritic.
  • Supertip 6: Don’t try to change a score.

 

New report available: Mobile in games media

Following up on the two reports that we released last year, we are releasing today another report looking at how video games media cover a specific topic. With the mobile game industry steadily growing year after year, we looked into how this segment of the industry was covered by specialist gaming media specifically.

Using a similar format to the one for the report written on VR in games media, we used the data we collect across more than 900 specialist websites in EFIGS to look at the volume of coverage dedicated to mobile topics during 2016. We also chose 6 mobile games and their coverage to analyse in more depth. Here are some of the findings.

French games media showing the least interest in mobile

Looking at the lowest criteria, this shows the percentage of games media that made at least a passing mention of mobile platforms during the year 2016. Like with VR, English media are the most likely to cover mobile topics, just ahead of Spanish media.

What is interesting to see is that in French, German and Italian games media, VR is covered by a larger portion the websites.

We were quite surprised to find out that, across all languages, both iOS and Android were fairly balanced in the number of sites mentioning them. There was no strong bias for either of the two platforms.

This was also true for the total number of articles mentioning the platforms, with only 3% more articles mentioning the iOS ecosystem.

Pokemon Go is too big

2016 was marked by the Pokemon Go phenomenon, and we had to account for it in the way we presented our findings. For each language that we analyse, we present the “top games” with two graphs. One with all the games, and one without Pokemon Go.

Interestingly, the other Nintendo mobile games got top spots as well, showing the stronger interest media have in mobile projects as soon as a major video game actor is part of it. In the graph above, out of 10 games, only 3 (Clash Royale; Clash of Clans; Candy Crush) are native to the mobile ecosystem. The fact that they are financially far more successful than these other games is irrelevant when it comes to the comparative volume of coverage they received.

Case studies

Following video games news day-to-day tends to warp your perception of what represents a major announcement. Building case studies of specific mobile games was enlightening. The single most successful PR beat for Candy Crush Saga had nothing to do with the game, but was due to the announced acquisition of the game’s studio by video game giant Activision. The second most important event was the launch of Pokemon Go, where collateral mentions of Candy Crush were numerous enough to make it a major PR moment for the franchise.

The report includes case studies of:

  • Pokemon Go
  • Clash Royale
  • Candy Crush Saga
  • Game of War
  • Deus Ex Go
  • Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius (compared to 3DS game Final Fantasy Explorers)

 

You can find further insights in the report – we tried to price it low enough for as many people as possible to be able to get access to it.

Media coverage analysis – Launch of the Nintendo Switch

This is the third article of media coverage analysis for the Nintendo Switch, but it’s the most important one as the console has now been released. While I will discuss previous announcements, you can read again the posts about the console’s first announcement and the January event that revealed most of the details about it.

The console has now been widely available for 3 weeks, and we can look at both the announcement, and some level of data over time, to see how it looks for this new console.

Hardware Coverage Comparison

With our data only going back to early 2014, there are no comparable launches to compare the Nintendo Switch with. For lack of better comparisons, I had a look at the coverage of the first announcements for the PS4 Pro, the PS VR and the Xbox Scorpio, and the coverage of the launches of the PS4 Pro and PSVR.

The PS4 Pro initial announcement was during a Sony event, and set out a lot of details for the new machine. The way the communication was structured for it, there was a short cycle between the announcement and the launch (2 months), and the fact the announcement was done outside of other industry events allowed it to garner significant coverage. The initial announcement also served as in-depth reveal for that matter.

The PSVR initial announcement (as project Morpheus at the time) was done during GDC 2014, and was still very vague on any details. That first reveal wasn’t massive with media coverage. Interestingly, 2 years later, at GDC 2016, the reveal of the details of the device and its price point was its biggest beat.

Project Scorpio (next Xbox One iteration) was first announced during E3 2016, and beyond the fact it would have the highest quality pixels that anybody has seen, Microsoft didn’t provide many details during the announcement. We are basically still waiting for the device’s in-depth announcement, which is likely to be at this year’s E3, leading to a launch before the holiday season.

The communication on the Nintendo Switch was very controlled, and beyond the initial announcement and the in-depth reveal, there were no real major beats before the launch. The only other communication was earlier in the week of the launch with a number of indie titles announced (some officially by Nintendo and a good number of others announced by their respective publishers).

So, what does it mean for the Nintendo Switch announcements and launch?

First, launches are not as exciting as the reveals of the details of the console. By the time they hit the market, the story is a bit dull and generally consists of a reminder of what the console is, probably its line up and the fact that “yes, you can buy it now”. The fact they don’t garner as much coverage as the in-depth reveals despite having a line-up of games immediately available that also should drive coverage seem to highlight that media still prioritise hardware news over games. In that respect, the media coverage of the Nintendo Switch, while significantly higher than the other two devices we can compare it to, is nothing incredibly impressive. The fact is, there were fewer articles mentioning the Nintendo Switch than the PlayStation 4 on the days of the launch, and that’s probably a direct consequence from the small line-up on the Switch, and the impressive head-start Sony has when it comes to media relations.

Second, in-depth events are the ones that matter the most to get coverage. Is it obvious? Absolutely, but I think you should always approach analysis with an open mind and getting evidence of the obvious is still a good take away. What is also very interesting is the relative success of this reveals. The Nintendo Switch being in January, outside of any events, and being quite close to the actual launch, really paid off in my opinion there for Nintendo.

To get a better sense of the Nintendo Switch potential for media coverage, let’s look at coverage over time, rather than at scheduled events.

 

Console coverage patterns

[please note that all the data presented here is as of March 26th – all monthly data labelled as March 2017 are until that date]

 

I have added the Wii U to the mix from the graph over time as  I think it is essential to understand where Nintendo is coming from in terms of their console media coverage.

So what is transpiring here:

  • As we mentioned many times before, the PlayStation 4 is the clear leader when it comes to console media coverage, and this is a constant. Even when looking at the weekly coverage volumes, since January 2015, only once did the Xbox One secure more coverage than the PlayStation 4. It was the week of the gamescom 2015, where Microsoft held a press conference and Sony did not. The gap between the two is actually widening over time.
  • Microsoft doesn’t seem to be learning from Sony when it comes to making big announcements outside of major industry events. Or even outside of E3. That dependence on E3 seems like a very risky strategy. Yes, E3 is still clearly the most important event of the year when it comes to coverage of the video games industry, but at the moment, Microsoft is not learning how to also do announcements at other times. Sony’s September event drove coverage to the level of their E3 weekly coverage, and when it comes to monthly coverage, it was their best month since we started tracking the articles mentioning the PlayStation 4. The Xbox One’s best month was June and E3.
  • The Wii U has been lagging behind the other consoles for a long time now. The decline is clearly visible, and even a major release like Zelda Breath of the Wild doesn’t seem to have much of an effect – it is clear the console is a very low priority for the media. Again, this is not an unexpected result, but we can now see the scale of it.
  • The Nintendo Switch is having an excellent start. Of course, a lot of that coverage is thanks to the January in-depth reveal that got really good coverage, and the momentum of the launch, but for a console with such a limited line-up, it seems that there is significant interest for the console, outside of just the launch. If the average weekly coverage stays around 4,000 articles/week, that puts it a bit above half of the Xbox One weekly average and at 40% of the PlayStation 4 weekly average, which would be an excellent foundation for Nintendo to build on.

 

Conclusion

Nintendo is getting a new console cycle, and the media seem to be keen on supporting it for now. It has a long way to go still, but they didn’t make any significant mistakes so far, and despite a very small launch line-up they secured a decent amount of coverage, and the poor interest for the Wii U doesn’t seem to have damaged the interest for the Switch. They also seem to have learned to make their announcements on their own time and not let major events dictate their calendar. Interestingly, they have just announced that they are planning a “big E3”, which is probably the next important series of announcements for them to get right to stay relevant and present in the media.

 

 

Games in the media in 2016 – Overwatch comes out on top

To complete the usual series of blog posts reviewing the past year, I present to you 2016 and video games in the media.

Like last year, bear in mind that we are using our internal tool to collect these numbers, and understanding the methodology is important. It is particularly worth mentioning this year Pokemon Go is definitely making things crazy. Or crazier than usual I should say. In order to account for that, a lot of the numbers presented here are limited to video games media. We do have General Interest and Tech media in our tools, but they are not as exhaustively collected on our end.

Games

 

Let’s address Pokemon Go now. I wrote about the game shortly after the launch, and while things have calmed down since July, the game is still receiving an impressive amount of coverage daily, even at times where there is no new update to discuss.

This being said, it wasn’t the number one game mentioned in the games media (important to be specific here), that was Overwatch.

Pokemon Go, while announced in September 2015, received very little coverage until it launched in early July 2016. The amount of coverage collected here is basically only 6 months worth, where Overwatch was already well covered prior to its launch in May.

If we compare these numbers to the ones from last year (which take into account a wider range of types of media), Pokemon Go’s performance is striking as it is a Nintendo game (only Splatoon managed to barely get in the top 15) and a mobile game (there were none in that ranking in 2015).

Overwatch is also impressive as it had 50% more coverage than any game in 2015. The online nature of the game, with its constant updates, coupled with the power of the Blizzard brand, pushed the game to the top here, making it by far the game with the most media presence in 2016.

Overwatch is also striking in the sense that it is one of the only two new IPs in this ranking (The Division being part of the Tom Clancy’s franchise), alongside No Man’s Sky. Many industry commenters pointed to No Man’s Sky’s hype as being the main reason for its fall from grace, and you have to give them credit here, when you see the game is in the top 15 most covered by media game of the year, while coming from a small independent studio. Even the Sony PR machine can’t be the only thing at play here, as many very large productions didn’t manage to make it in these rankings. The game’s hype took on a life of its own, and got big.

For the fans of the respective series, it will interesting to note that Battlefield 1 secured about +40% more coverage than this year’s Call of Duty game. Year-on-year, Call of Duty’s media coverage dropped about -12%.

Monthly Data

For a very long time, we wanted to run these numbers. As ICO is also a PR agency, a lot of the discussions with the studios and the publishers come around to the best timing to do a particular communication. The above is a great way to understand when certain periods are swamped, while some are on the contrary very light.

You’ll see that I removed Pokemon Go from the data. The game was so dominant at its launch that it was skewing the data (more than 7% of the  articles in the games media in July 2016 mentioned Pokemon Go). Removing it is not a perfect solution either, but it draws a slightly better picture.

There are different ways to understand these numbers, but here are my takeaways:

  • You probably want to communicate when the ratio of articles for AAA is lower. It means the coverage is more varied and more likely to be covering your game. From that perspective, November is often deemed a tough month for communications, and both graphs illustrate this well.
  • When there is a lot of coverage, you also have more chances to be covered, however, the communication will also stand out less as higher volume of articles means more noise overall. In that sense, communicating during the E3 period (June) can be a blessing and a curse at the same time.
  • While media coverage does drop during the Christmas period, it is the only time in the year where there is a visible drop in the volume of coverage across all media. It means that any other time, there will always be a minimum number of articles that need to be written, and it can pay off to aim for the periods outside of the AAA games releases, like January or July.

While making these graphs, the question came up about the number of games beyond those top 20 games. The truth is, we don’t know how many games communicate in any given month. We do know how many games are released on Steam on average, and this is where the 500+ number comes from. In reality, you can expect all the games releasing to have some form of communication that month, but you would also need to add all the games that are announced, the games that are communicating about their upcoming release, the released games having some newsworthy announcement, like an expansion, or a DLC release, not to mention the live games with significant updates.

That 500+ figure for games is quite conservative in truth.

Platforms

2016 was interesting as far as platforms are concerned. While there were no new console coming out, there were upgrades, iterations and major accessories announced and released. The Playstation 4 and the Xbox One are hitting their stride while the Wii U is in its last year being the main console for the Nintendo line up, with the Switch being around the corner.

What is interesting in the media coverage is the fact that it was yet again a strong year for the Playstation 4, with even more media coverage than in 2015 (+14%). The console has established its lead, the media follow the trend. The PlayStation VR and the Playstation 4 Pro both helped bring the device in front of the media as well.

For Xbox One, it was also a good year compared to 2015 (+18%), a growth in coverage not necessarily being a given considering the most important announcement, Project Scorpio, related to a new version of the console to be released in 2017.

The Wii U year-on-year numbers see a steep decline overall (-24%). Comparing it to the Oculus Rift, which is a niche platform that had its first release in the year both shows how much Oculus has accomplished, and how much the Wii U has dropped.


Sony’s communication strategy is well established by now, with most of its coverage originating from E3 and a combination of their own events and industry conferences.

gamescom, despite the absence of a press conference, is still an important source of coverage overall, but it does come after the press event ahead of the Tokyo Game Show.

And like last year, the Playstation Experience event in early December was a tremendous success for Sony as far as media coverage is concerned.

The Microsoft coverage over the year has fewer events sparking spikes in coverage. The two most notable ones are the E3 in June, and gamescom in August, even though, like Sony, they didn’t put a press conference together in 2016.

Microsoft seemed to be on the defensive in its communication strategy the whole of 2016 and the fact it still managed to grow the coverage is a good sign. Hopefully they will be more aggressive this year, with the Project Scorpio device coming, to shake things up a bit.

A guide to easy and pretty gaming gifs

In preparation for my upcoming GDC talk “Get Journalists to Cover Your Game: Lessons from Online Dating, Praying and ‘No Man’s Sky‘“ I talked to plenty of high profile journalists to find out what makes them cover games.

One thing that kept coming up was that animated gifs – in pitch emails or spotted on twitter – often easily convince editors to check out a game.

Also from professional experience of doing games PR for years I can’t think of a better tool to show off your game. Our current approach at ICO Partners when pitching games in emails to media and influencers is to have a snappy headline, two short sentences that explain why they should care about a certain game followed by a nice animated gif and links to the press page and a blog post / full press release. That’s about it. Sounds easy but actually boiling the essence of your game down in two sentences and a 5 second gif is quite a lot of work (but it’s work that pays off).

For this reason, I decided to put together a guide for creating easy and pretty gaming gifs, that should give you all the tools you need to let your game shine in a nice animated image.

Source trailer

 

I separated this article into 3 steps

1) Decide what you want to show in the gif

2) Get video material for the gif (we discuss three options here)

3) Compress the gif  

 

Disclaimer

  • Please note that there are probably more ways to make gifs then there are Final Fantasy games (even including spin offs). The following methods are my favourite ways to make animated gifs from the different ways I’ve tried, but if you have alternative suggestions please let me know in the comments or on Twitter.
  • Working in an PR agency we usually don’t capture gameplay footage for the gifs ourselves. This is why this blog post focuses mostly on how you make gifs if you already have video material in the form of a trailer or a video and want to transform it into a short animated gif. This proved to be a good method to get, with some practice, nice gifs out there within a couple of minutes of work.
  • We are still not sure how to pronounce gif correctly.

Source trailer

1) Decide what you want to show in the gif

First, think about what the highlight of your game is, or what you want to show. Maybe it’s a special gameplay feature, maybe you want to explain the concept of your game, maybe the atmosphere, or maybe you just want to show off some nice animations. Depending on that the size, resolution and length will vary greatly, and because gifs are so small in file size you really have to focus your attention on your most outstanding feature.

I usually try to think of gifs like little film trailers – you probably won’t have the time to explain all the details your game but your aim is to bring the mood and main selling point across in a way that should make people care and want to find out more.

Source trailer

2) Get video material for the gif

Depending on what you want to show in your gif there are different paths you can take on the recording front. I always decide first I want to a) show short looping gameplay snipped in the gif or b) have a gif that is sort of a mini trailer for the game (perfect for the game announcement or launch).

At this point don’t worry too much about file sizes or resolutions, we will compress the gif in the next step. Do however keep your gif length in mind. I usually make them 3 to 10 seconds long for Twitter and email usage. Although this sounds pretty short you can actually fit some good material in there.

Source trailer

Option a) Record your gif footage in-game
As mentioned in the intro, working in a PR agency we usually don’t capture footage ourselves but get videos on trailers and transform them into gifs which proves to be a time-saving way with good results (more on that in Option C.). If you instead want to capture footage yourself that is a good option too. In this case I would recommend listening to people that know more about video capturing than me in one of the many online threads and tutorials about capturing footage and moving on to point 3 about gif compression. (Also if you have tips and tools on capturing please let me know Twitter).

Option b) Record a short gameplay snippet from a video
If I already have a video that I wish to record some gameplay footage from for a gif, I use free software called gifcam (download link). It opens a little frame on your PC screen and captures whatever appears within that frame.

Once the software is open, simply have your game or a video of your game (often easier) running and capture the bit you want.

Usually my window capturing size is about as big as as a credit card (don’t make it much bigger, you will need to compress the gif anyway) and be sure you record with the maximum frame rate that GifCam allows. In terms of frames per second it’s always better to get a nice raw file and compress it later.

Source trailer

Usually it takes a few tries to get exactly the bit you wanted but the software also offers a simple editing engine to remove the things you recorded by accident, or if you want to get a gif that loops in a perfect cycle.

That’s it! Skip the next part and go to the section about gif compression


Option c) Transform a trailer into a gif trailer
This is my favourite way to makes gifs, as it’s usually really quick to do and brings great results! All you need beforehand is a trailer or a video of your game. First some tips on how to cut your video into gif length and then some tips how to transform the short video into an actual animated gif.

Source trailer


Option C step one: Cut your video into a small video in gif length

Load your trailer or gameplay video into a video editing programme. The options here are limitless, from pro software like Adobe After Effects, to free software like Movie Maker or iMovie – anything that can cut video works. I usually use Videopad Pro. It’s very straightforward and costs around $30. Next you cut together the nice little video that will end up es your gif but for now save it any common video format (mov. Mp4 and so on).

Some general tips when cutting small video in gif length:

  • If you want to show variety you can show 2-3 different scenes and usually I aim to show each at least 1,5 seconds. Otherwise the gif feels messy.
  • Often it makes sense to show different aspects of your game (gameplay vs cutscenes, different levels, different characters) to paint a broader picture of what your game is about.
  • I usually try to pick something eye catching straight from the start, so the viewer sticks with the gif to the end.
  • I would advise showing an end slate for a couple of seconds at the end of your gif. This is just a screen that usually shows your game title and maybe the platforms and / or release date (look at the Northgard gif above – I mean the last part with the Steam and game logos). This is vital information if your gif gets shared around online (otherwise how are people gonna find you?), and as this is a static image it’s relatively small in file size so won’t add much weight to the overall gif.
  • I usually fade out the ending of the video to a black screen (the last 0.3 seconds or so) to let it loop smoothly. As in the Northgard gif above it’s quite hard to spot if you don’t know about it but it makes the cut to the beginning of the gif smoother.
  • Again, focus on the essentials I would recommend not go beyond 3 to 10 seconds in length if you want to use your gif on Twitter.
  • If your game plays much better than it looks it can help to include a good press quote in the gif if you already have one. Just don’t forget to check back with the editor first to ensure it’s okay to use the quote.

Cool, now that you have the raw video version of your gif footage, we want to transform it into a gif.

Source trailer

Option C step two: Transform your short video into an actual gif file

  • Go to ezgif.com. After uploading your gif in the “video to gif options” there are a couple of important variables you can change next.
  • Set the right length. Be sure to set the right start and end time for your gif. By default this option is always set from 0 to 5 seconds.
  • Set the right dimension. Here you can already pick the dimensions of the gif. Usually I resize it later anyway but it doesn’t hurt to pick something that is close to your final output – for gifs for Twitter and emails I often use 480xAuto here.
  • Set a right framerate. In most cases I aim for the 10 or 20 frame option but it really depends on the game. For a more static point and click adventure for example 10 frames will be fine, but for a game where you want to show off gorgeous animations I would rather go for the maximum of 25 frames per second so it looks super fluent, but save file size by reducing the image size and gif length. The best approach here is to just switch between the different options and see how many frames you need to make it look nice.

3) Compress the gif

Once you have your gif, the final big step is to compress it to fit your needs. Again, there are probably many ways to do this but my favourite quick and easy go-to solution is also on the website ezgif.com.

First, think about where you want to use it before you go to compress your gif.

  • My most common use of gifs for PR purposes is for posting on Twitter, and also for putting straight into emails for media. For these approaches you should aim for a gif under 5MB. That’s the maximum size that Twitter will display animated gifs on mobile (15MB on desktop), and it’s not so big in emails that it will take ages to load – time in which you could lose your audience already.
  • If you use your gif for a website or other platforms, you might want to have a bigger file size

Source trailer

 

Use the gif optimizer on ezgif.com

  • Upload you gif to ezgif.com in the  “gif optimizer”.
  • I ALWAYS use the default “Lossy Gif Level 30” option as in my opinion it cuts down the size file nicely while sacrificing very little of the image quality.
  • If your gif looks nice at this point and is under 5MB (or a bigger file size you prefer if don’t need it for Twitter including mobile or emails) you are DONE!

  • If the gif file size is not right just yet don’t worry. It usually takes me a few tries of hitting the sweet spot between quality and the right file size. What you can do now to bring the file size down is:
    • Make your gif shorter
    • Make the gif image size smaller (this saves quite a lot of file size, but I wouldn’t go under 350x for Twitter and emails)
    • Use the medium and high levels of the “Lossy gif optimisation” option on ezgif.com. Depending on the game (for games with fewer little details and diverse colours for example) this can save you a lot of file size for little quality degradation. I always give this a try to see what it looks like.
    • Use a lower framerate. Either by going back to the “video to gif” option on ezgif.com and saving your video with fewer frames, or by using the “give optimizer” and the “drop frames” option.

After all those steps and some playing around you should have a great looking gif!

Tl;dr gaming gif guidelines

  1. Decide what you want to show in your gif, focus on the essentials
  2. To use the gif for twitter (including mobile) and emails stay under 5MB
  3. A good length is often 3 to 10 seconds
  4. A good size is around 400 to 450 pixels in width (no smaller than 350 pixels minimum)
  5. To capture gameplay snippets from a video for your gif, gifcam is a good option
  6. To make a mini gif trailer out of an existing video simply cut it down in any video editor and use ezgif.com to transform it into a gif
  7. Compress your gifs with ezgif.com

 

Media coverage analysis – Nintendo Switch January event

Back in October, I did an analysis of the announcement of the Nintendo Switch. It was a rather short one, with very few details shared at the time, with the promise of a more in depth presentation following an event in January. That event was last week, and now is a great time to look at how it went for the Nintendo teams.

The Console

There is no question that, of the three console manufacturers, currently Nintendo is lagging behind Sony and Microsoft and that is very apparent when looking at the media coverage of each console.

In the video games media landscape report that we shared last year, Nintendo received less than a third of the articles that PlayStation had. In that respect, the Switch announcement seems to have been fairly well covered. We are lacking data to compare it with other console announcements, though.

Here is another graph to illustrate how significant the event was for Nintendo’s coverage:

While it is not surprising that the main event showcasing a new console is the single biggest media event for Nintendo in the past 3 years, the scale it reached is significant. It is the single biggest announcement in terms of volume of coverage across all 3 main consoles for that period of time. For Nintendo, a company that is struggling to compete with the media attention its two contenders receive, it looks like a massive achievement.

And with the new cycle of consoles being upgrades from the current gen, rather than brand new iterations, this might stay true for a while for all we know.

 

Games

* Minecraft numbers are only for articles explicitly naming the Switch and Minecraft.

Looking at the games announced at last week’s event, there seems to be 4 categories:

  • Zelda is alone in the lead, with twice as many articles as any other games. Nothing surprising here: it was the crown jewel of the line-up, the game that was playable on-site, and it’s the one key launch title for the console. It is interesting to note though that it is garnering even more coverage than at last E3, where it was one of the leading game in terms of coverage (2,300 articles over a week compared to 2,600 articles since Friday)
  • Nintendo’s first party titles – they benefited from the full support of the firm’s communication effort. It’s also interesting to note that existing licences are performing better than the new brands. This is very normal of course, but interesting to actually see it in numbers.
  • 3rd party titles from key Japanese licences – I put in this bucket Bomberman, Fire Emblem and Xenoblade, that all received 400+ articles from the event.
  • Other 3rd party titles – this is of course more varied and spread out, but I think it’s worth noting Snipperclips and Octopath both securing more than 200 articles – no small feat for projects with their profiles.

That’s it for me (for now).

6 PR lessons learned from launching the episodic indie game The Lion’s Song

At ICO Partners we do PR for a wide range of games (from SMITE to Armello) and recently we started working on our first episodic game: The indie title The Lion’s Song.

To celebrate this week’s launch of Episode 2, we want to share some episodic-specific PR lessons we learned from supporting developer Mipumi Games in launching Episode 1 of the game.

the-lions-song-youtube-previewThe announcement trailer of The Lion’s Song.

1) Announce the whole “series” before talking about single episodes

We decided to announce the whole “series” first with a general trailer, describing the game concept and teasing what the individual episodes would entail. The challenge when promoting a game, and particularly when trying to make a strong first impression, is always to find as many strong talking points and PR angles as you can.

Focusing on just one episode for that first announcement would have severely limited the amount of talking points we had to work with, and wouldn’t have allowed us to sell the overarching vision for what the team are trying to achieve with the season as a whole. This additional outlook on the other episodes could also give further incentive for players to buy a Season Pass.

the-lions-song-1-media-coverage

A downside of announcing the season first is that it means you need to nail down details and commit early. Additionally, having a trailer showing footage of all episodes at such an early stage proved to be a challenge because…well, the studio only had footage of Episode 1 at this point. To make this work Mipumi Games had to create individual sections for the later episodes from scratch just for the video, which of course could have a knock-on effect on the development plan and schedule.

the-lions-song-banner

Looking at the coverage breakdown though (graph above), we would highly recommend this approach for promoting smaller episodic games. For us having a general reveal trailer of The Lion’s Song resulted in 74 online articles and got even more articles than the launch of Episode 1, with announcement coverage from high profile sites such as Killscreen, Pocketgamer, France’s (and looking at Alexa also Europe’s) biggest gaming site Jeuxvideo.com and the major German gaming site PCGames.de

2) Be careful with your wording if your first episode is free

Mipumi Games decided to launch Episode 1 – Silence for free: they saw this as an opportunity to expose the game to the largest number of players possible from the beginning, and that would hopefully convince players to stick around for the upcoming episodes.

the_lions_song_screenshot_02

From a PR point of view however, we were concerned that having a free first episode could result in media thinking The Lion’s Song was a small, almost fan made-like game, which could result in them deciding against covering it. After all, it’s a pixel art title from a relatively unknown studio, and all of our messages and promotional assets would say it’s free.

To avoid this from happening we put a lot of work into finding the best phrasing in the communication around the free episode correctly. Whenever we said Episode 1 is free for instance, we would immediately mention that the whole Season Pass costs €9,99. By doing this, we let people know that this is a premium quality game, but a game that we wanted to bring people into and try for themselves by removing that initial barrier to entry.

3) Press seems to focus and your first episode

At ICO, we have developed a tool we call the Media Monitor that basically tracks thousands of websites and shows us how individual games perform in the press (for more info on how it works look here). For The Lion’s Song, we took advantage of the tool and looked into data from other episodic games like Life is Strange, Hitman, King’s Quest or Tales from the Borderlands to see how their coverage evolved over time.

Looking at the coverage per episode it became clear episode 1 gets most media traction, whereas all episodes after that seem to drop in term of media coverage. You can see King’s Quest, Minecraft: Story Mode and Tales from the Borderlands as an example below.

the-lions-song-2-launch-coverage

Based on the data we would recommend to put most of your PR efforts and resources, especially for assets, into the initial announcement instead of saving your PR fireworks for later to build up hype. Of course it makes sense to try to keep pushing to gather press attention, but the first  episode will be the easiest points of your campaign to get eyes on your game, so take advantage of this.

4) Try to boost the news value of your other episodes

the-lions-song-3-life-is-strnage

Life is Strange proved to be an interesting case study in another regard: we looked at how much coverage each episode got when it’s launch day was announced. As you can see, episode 4 clearly breaks the pattern mentioned above. What happened? They announced a newsworthy sales milestone of 1 million copies sold at the same time as announcing episode 4 to boost their announcement – a clever way of helping the “weaker episodes” gather more traction.

That’s something we are looking into for the upcoming episodes of the Lion’s Song.

5) Youtubers are your friends, especially for episodic games

If you have followed the discussion around That, Dragon Cancer, the developers were not too happy about people streaming and putting together walkthroughs of their narrative game as they felt it hurt sales. Even though The Lion’s Song is a narrative game as well, the whole dynamic changes with episodic games, especially when episode 1 is free.

the-lions-song-youtube-preview-2Youtuber NichBoys playing The Lion’s Song

So while Youtubers might have “spoilered” Episode 1 for some players, we think the benefit of having more exposure and potentially hooking viewers on the upcoming episodes or the Season Pass seemed like a bigger positive for us. In the end, you can never really prevent videos from being released, so why not encourage and assist YouTubers/streamers who are interested in your game and have a direct line into the audience you are trying to reach

6. Consider not announcing the release date of your episodes

Working on many titles in a more traditional release cycle, we are used to announcing release dates before launching a game to get players and press in the right mindset, letting them know the game is coming soon and hopefully getting them excited. Looking at other episodic games, their tactics vary widely: From announcing the release date a week before (Life is Strange) to simply announcing the moment the episode becomes available, like most mobile games.

tls_launchdate

Going through our Media Monitor, we couldn’t make out a clear pattern that generally seems to work best, but we still learned a valuable lesson: a release date announcement for smaller games generally splits your media impact between two news beats (release date and launch shortly after) and can therefore drastically weaken your media impact on launch day – a moment where you usually want most players to hear about your game because they can get their hands on it straight away.

the-lions-song-4-life-is-strange-launch-announcements

For high profile titles like Life is Strange (graph below) this might not matter too much, as media and a large, enthusiastic player base are generally aware of and excited for an episode’s upcoming launch anyway.

For a smaller game gaining traction for two news beats close to each other seems more difficult. As an example we looked at Dreamfall Chapters (which is a bigger project but didn’t reach the scale of The Life is Strange’s media impact) and their media coverage with announcing the release date beforehand.

the-lions-song-5-dreamfall

For our smaller episodic game, splitting the news value per episode into two seemed like it would overall damage the media impact we can have, particularly for launching the traditionally weaker performing episodes. That’s why we decided that after Episode 1, we will only announce the Lion’s Song episodes once they are available to have the best chance of cutting through the media noise that day.  

That’s it for now. Thanks a lot to developer Mipumi Games for letting us share these insights and data points. We hope you found it helpful. If you have questions, or other tips you can reach me under @Olima on Twitter and in the comments.

Media coverage analysis – How good was the Nintendo Switch announcement?

This month has not only been busy with new game releases, as expected for this time of the year, but also with new announcements. On the back of the analysis of the PlayStation VR release and its media coverage, I went and looked at the media coverage that the recent Nintendo Switch reveal has secured.

A tweet and a video

There are not many console announcements; their life cycle is long enough to make them a rare occurrence. Our media monitoring tool has been running since mid-2013, but getting really in shape from early 2014 onwards, so I don’t have much data to properly compare the Nintendo Switch announcement. I will mostly use this year’s PS4 Pro and Xbox Scorpio announcements, keeping in mind that these are not full-blown new hardware being released, but upgrades of existing consoles.

The way the Nintendo Switch was announced is also unusual. It was outside of any major media event and in the middle of the busiest month for video games media with the release of many AAA titles; a new format for this kind of announcement. Also, Nintendo has been very sparse when it comes to details about the console (no detailed specs, no price point, no confirmed release titles), and stated clearly that they wouldn’t provide any of this until nearly next year.

With all this in mind, how well was the announcement covered by media?

articles_compared

Purely looking at the number of articles, the Nintendo Switch secured fewer than the PlayStation 4 Pro did at its reveal back in September, but way more than the Xbox “Scorpio” did at E3. I would call this a small victory for Nintendo, if only because there is very little to talk about on the Switch at the moment. Of course, there are many speculative articles, but it doesn’t feed the media cycle the way the Sony press conference did, where there was a price point, technical specs, and titles to discuss.

But to call it a win, I have to say I had to double check the number of unique websites that wrote about the consoles first:

websites_compared

The Nintendo Switch managed to secure coverage across more media than the PS4 Pro or the Xbox “Scorpio”, even if not in a massive way. Nintendo is clearly behind the two other console manufacturers, and it shows in the monthly tracking we do on the coverage of each platform, so being able to get this amount of attention is good for them. It is the biggest beat related to the Nintendo brand since we started tracking media coverage (January 2014), but it is still way behind what Sony and Microsoft gained for their biggest announcements in the period (usually around E3, but not exclusively, as the PlayStation Experience managed to build a lot of significant coverage the past couple of years too).

Where is the interest?

websites_compared_lg

Looking at the same metric (unique websites covering the announcement), there is a similar level of increased interest for the Nintendo Switch compared to the PlayStation 4 Pro across most languages. The notable exceptions being French and Spanish media, which covered this announcement in a bigger proportion than the other languages (and which makes sense considering the findings from the report on the different media landscapes) and Italian media where the increase was smaller than the other languages (and contrary to the same findings).

The websites parsed by the monitoring tool are also put in different categories and this is where an interesting pattern appears for this announcement:

websites_compared_mt

Nintendo is often seen as a family-friendly brand, one that has a wide appeal and name recognition outside of the video game industry. The bigger reach the Nintendo Switch announcement had with General Interest media would reflect that, and is quite significant here (note that the tool’s database is very much geared towards video games media and is not as exhaustive when it comes to media from different categories). But the significant reach the news had with websites qualified as Special Interest, is one I didn’t expect. Special Interest media cover a range of very specific topics, generally only tangentially related to video games. For example, it includes websites that focus on board games, “geek culture”, and science-fiction in its broadest expression. The news seems to have found a very strong resonance with those media compared to the “upgraded console” announcements.

All in all, this was a massive announcement for Nintendo, one on a scale that they don’t often have. And while it worked and found a significant reach in the media, it was not spectacular. Pokemon Go, at its highest week, saw a lot more coverage than the announcement of a brand new console. Of course, Pokemon Go was an extraordinary phenomenon, but so should be the reveal of your new device.

Here are the last couple of numbers to give some food for thought: at the time of writing this blog post, 5 days after the reveal, the Nintendo Switch reveal video on Youtube had 17m views; the Battlefield 1 reveal trailer had 22m views over the same time period.

 

Media coverage analysis: PlayStation VR’s launch dominates Oculus and Vive

Last week, Sony launched its VR headset, the last of the 3 major tethered HMDs (head mounted display) to release in 2016. This is a perfect opportunity to have a look at the media coverage around the launch and to see how well it has performed compared to the other two. If you have read our blog post on the VR in media report, the result shouldn’t be very surprising, though.

The Launches

To compare the launches, I looked at the 48h cycle around the official release of each headset and the number of articles gathered for each device.

hmd_launches

Sony is a lot better organized in regards to its PR, especially where games and technology media are concerned, and the results shows, with twice the coverage that Oculus had for its launch, that was itself better covered than the HTC Vive’s launch. But even then, the magnitude of the difference is really impressive. Oculus was first to market, in a highly anticipated technological advancement.

hmd_launches_lg

A first explanation can be found with the languages breakdown. It seems Sony has been way better at engaging with non-English media than both Oculus and HTC were. In English, the PlayStation VR is 37% bigger than Oculus’, where in Italian – the biggest gap – it is 249% bigger.

This said I don’t have any good comparisons with other, different hardware launches. The Xbox One S was launched in the middle of the summer with little fanfare, and it is arguably not a very significant launch (667 articles for its launch if you are curious). I guess the NX launch will be the next similar event that we can compare these numbers to.

it is good to note as well, and that’s true for all three HMDs, that the launch is not the biggest media beat of their lifecycle. For example, for the PlayStation VR, the price point announcement earlier this year at GDC and the E3 coverage were both more significant when it comes to the volume of media coverage.

psvr_announcements

The Games

With the launch of the new headset, a slew of VR games were part of the story. To cover the communications, that were spread across the week, I looked at their coverage for the whole of last week. Most of the articles were on the day of the PlayStation VR release or the following day.

vr_games

The odd one out in this top 10 is Robinson: The Journey. The game is not available yet on PSVR, but they announced they release date right around the PSVR release, getting a lot of attention thanks to that timing.

The Batman VR game has been getting a lot of coverage, the brand power probably helping it a bit. This game still has the best performance, getting more coverage than Sony’s first party titles Until Dawn and Driveclub.

EvE Valkyrie is also very well covered, especially for a game that has already been released on Oculus months ago.

These seem like good numbers for games launches overall – however, when looking at established IP’s going into VR such as Driveclub, the numbers are still lagging behind.

driveclub

These are the early days of VR, and it doesn’t seem like a bad start, but there is a long way to go still to get a proper foothold in the media. We can expect this to grow alongside VR adoption.