No Cheat Codes Needed: Six Insider Tips on Game Influencer Marketing

Navigating the world of game influencer marketing can sometimes feel like playing Elden Ring – wander too far in the wrong direction, and you’ll end up in an area way out of your depth up against unstoppable odds. Thankfully, unlike the rest of FromSoftware’s Soulsborne portfolio, we have an option to turn down the difficulty. 

In this blog, we’ll touch on some common misconceptions surrounding influencer marketing, the value micro-influencers can bring to your campaigns, the best ways to identify influencers you should be working with, and strategies to help send your game sales soaring higher than Lugia. 

Of course, that would be a tough challenge on our own, which is why we brought in Lynn Marie from the influencer marketing platform Lurkit (who is also a special guest in the latest episode of the Games PR Podcast) as our player two. 

LOOK FOR INFLUENCERS WHO ARE WILLING TO TRY SOMETHING NEW

Whether it’s reaching out to the media or influencers, one of the places that a lot of us like to start is by trying to find common ground, whether that’s drawing comparisons to popular titles everyone is talking about (like Palworld or Helldivers 2), or targeting those who have a vested interest in your genre.

Often, this can be a great way to drum up interest in your game, but it’s far trickier than it might seem at first glance – let’s look at why.

For example, an influencer might have a massive following on Destiny 2. So, you’d think that if you were to show them another first-person shooter similar to Destiny 2, they would potentially be interested in it, right?

Not necessarily. That influencer might only be playing Destiny 2 because it brings in the views and might alienate their existing audience if they swap to playing something else, regardless of how similar it may or may not be.

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It can be hard to pull streamers away from really well-known titles like Destiny 2

But it’s not hopeless; many influencers are willing to try out new games and take that risk. 

In other words, success depends on carefully striking a balance between identifying people who play things similar to what you have and those who have the door open to try out new things.

Thankfully, there are tools out there that can help you with this. Lurkit, for example, will show you which games an influencer is playing and how much time they’ve spent on each of them so you can gauge whether or not it’s worth reaching out.

Lynn Marie added: “Years ago, when I had just joined the industry, I was working close to a studio hiring one influencer to play their game, and it was a total mess. That particular creator played just one title, and when he took a break to play the studio’s new game, his audience went wild. 

“They were like, ‘No, what are you doing? Why are you playing this?’ Like, the game wasn’t an indie, but it wasn’t big enough compared to their usual offering.”

YOUTUBE VS TWITCH: CHOOSING THE RIGHT PLATFORM

We spend a lot of time pondering over which influencer would be the best fit for our games, but one of the things that can often get overlooked is the importance of the destination platform. 

Let’s say you have a heavily story-driven game. You might worry that if someone watches a full playthrough on Twitch, they’ll have no reason to buy the game themselves.  

YouTube might be a better choice in this scenario. You can partner with creators for pre-release trailers, spoiler-free reviews, or even in-depth analysis videos after the game is out. This builds excitement and lets viewers experience elements of the story without giving the whole thing away.

Twitch, on the other hand, thrives on shared experiences. It’s ideal for multiplayer games and titles with high replayability, where being able to react in real time and interact with the influencer drives the appeal. Here, ‘spoilers’ aren’t a concern – the enjoyment comes from being part of the moment.

Remember, when considering which platform might be best for your game, take a step back and ask yourself these questions before hitting up some influencers:

  • What do I want viewers to get from the content? Seeing someone enjoy your multiplayer battlefield might encourage them to join the fight, but spoiling your narrative adventure likely won’t boost sales. 
  • Where are creators hosting similar games to mine? That will give you a clue about the most appropriate target destination.

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Multiplayer-focused titles like Helldivers 2 are perfect for Twitch

BUILDING A LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIP

If you’re lucky, eventually, you’ll get to the point where you’re on relatively good terms with one (or more) influencers. They’ll have played your game, enjoyed it, and possibly even considered themselves fans.

Which begs the question, what next? Even if your budget isn’t super high as a developer, you should be thinking about some extra creative things you could do to strengthen that relationship even further.

One traditional option is to go for a press kit. If you’re looking for inspiration, we’d recommend checking out the dazzling press kit sent out to the media and influencers for Cyberpunk 2077, including some cool in-game merchandise that read “played before launch.”

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Cyberpunk 2077’s Press Kit [Credit: GamerGen]

Of course, Cyberpunk 2077 had plenty of marketing budget to play with, meaning that many of you reading this might not be able to invest in such prestigious swag for monetary reasons. Thankfully, more minor gestures can also have a significant impact. 

For example, hoodies are a great option; they’re popular, relatively inexpensive, and a straightforward way of providing someone with something that can keep your game on-screen even if they’re playing something else. Stickers are also a simple but appreciated touch. 

Alternatively, you could go a completely different route and invite influencers to participate in playtests, give them the opportunity to join a dedicated Discord channel where they can chat with developers, or even invite them to take part in online events. 

No matter your budget, remember to focus on things that would excite you as a consumer, as that’s what your audience will connect with.

Lynn Marie said: “I’m a huge Bioshock fan, and I think that’s one of the best games ever made. One of my best experiences was when the studio behind it hosted a Developer Discussion, where the creators talked about the games and you could ask them questions directly in the chat. 

“That was just so cool for me, and while it may not seem that big for others, I think it demonstrates that the small things create huge value in the end as they build a long-lasting relationship.”

THE UNEXPECTED BENEFITS OF WORKING WITH INFLUENCERS

One of the biggest benefits of working with influencers that often goes unnoticed is the benefit they can have on the quality of your game.

Many indie developers simply don’t have the budget or capacity to playtest their games, meaning that influencers are often some of the first “consumers” to pick up the controller.

Lynn Marie said that, in her experience, many of the developers handing over to influencers are surprised at how differently they play the game compared to what they originally envisioned when designing it. 

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Baldur’s Gate 3 is a perfect example of when influencers play a game in a way the developers never could have anticipated [Image Credit: CosmoTheMagician]

She also noted that developers learn a lot from what the influencer says in their content as they play, whether commenting on certain things in the world or reacting to different in-game events that happen as they progress.

Often, that feedback will result in the developers implementing new features in the game or cutting certain features from the full release.

Lynn Marie added: “Partnering with content creators provides invaluable feedback from both your community and the creators themselves. Creators excel at crafting engaging content and understand how to connect with audiences in ways developers and publishers might not fully grasp.”

THE POWER OF MICRO-INFLUENCERS

We hear this question constantly, and it’s always a hot topic: micro-influencers. 

If an influencer seems genuinely interested in your game and is the right fit but doesn’t have a massive following, what value can they bring? Why invest effort in reaching out to them when they don’t have the audience size you hoped for?

Micro-influencers are helpful as they have very dedicated followings. They often specialise in particular areas or genres – maybe they’re always playing 3D platformers or have a soft spot for unusual horror games.

They will likely give it a go if you present them with something very much in their niche. More importantly, there’s a good chance most of their audience will be interested in having a look, too.

Comparatively, when working with a mainstream influencer, while your game might get exposed to a much wider audience, there is less of a guarantee that all those thousands of viewers will be interested in your area. 

It all comes down to what your overall goal is. 

Smaller creators will be your secret weapon if you want to drive game sales. Their audiences trust them, and that connection is powerful. It’s like getting a tip from a friend – their recommendations hold serious weight. This personal touch can make all the difference in turning interest into an actual purchase.

However, a more prominent influencer may still be the right choice if you’re looking purely to raise awareness across the broader market. 

Another thing to bear in mind is that smaller influencers are also generally easier to reach, as they usually handle all communications themselves. A more prominent influencer will be in much higher demand, meaning they likely have an agency behind them.

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Massive streamers like Ninja might have millions of followers, but how many of them are going to be relevant to your audience? [Image Credit: Red Bull]

LEVEL UP YOUR INFLUENCER STRATEGY WITH THESE TAKEAWAYS

Influencer marketing can level up your game’s launch, but for maximum impact, your strategy needs more than just a high score in audience size. From harnessing micro-influencer power to picking the perfect platform, there’s a lot to consider

The best way to think of it is as a quest with valuable rewards. Here are the key things you need to remember as you make your way towards a victory fanfare: 

  • Refrain from relying on comparisons alone: Targeting influencers based on what’s popular can be tricky. To increase your chances of success, research and focus on creators who are open to trying new things and who will genuinely connect with your game’s genre.
  • Authenticity is key: Whether it’s sponsored content, events, or even cosplay collaborations, all influencer campaigns should feel organic and genuine. Audiences will spot fake enthusiasm a mile away.
  • Platform matters: Twitch thrives on live experiences and multiplayer, while YouTube can be perfect for spoiler-free reviews or teasers of story-heavy titles.
  • Long-term relationships: Invest in creators who love your game. Small gestures, such as playtests, exclusive merchandise, and access to your Discord, build loyalty in the community.
  • Micro-influencers offer focused power: Smaller creators often have dedicated, niche audiences and increased trust, which can drive sales.

If you enjoyed this post and would like to learn more about influencer marketing strategies, listen to the full episode of our Games PR Podcast here.