Influencer Update’s Viral Visionaries Panel this week’s topic was the sudden popularity of Fortnite among influencers in both YouTube and Twitch. Influencer Update asked the expert panel, including Traplight’s Marketing Manager Veera Rouvinen, why is Fortnite so popular and how does this phenomenon affect YouTube Gaming in the future?
“One reason, a very obvious one, is that Fortnite is free to play, unlike the biggest competitor PUBG. A colleague of mine pointed this out very well: “If I were 13 right now of course I would go nuts over a free-to-play battle royale game.” The graphics and play style also support a less serious, fun-filled gaming liked by younger audience in contrast to PUBG’s realistic graphics and guns etc.
The graphics style and easier mechanics also make Fortnite’s gameplay easier to follow on stream (eg. easier to see where the bullets fly, who is winning the gun fight etc.) The building aspects of Fortnite bare resemblance to Minecraft, which we know has already defined a whole generation of gamers.
And the pvp mods of Minecraft were already popular with kids before the launch of Fortnite, so moving on to Fortnite has been an easy choice for them.
It just seems that Fortnite is everything that the “Minecraft generation” has been waiting for. These players are also YouTube and Twitch native, and consume influencer content at much higher rate than older players.
The sheer amount of young, influencer-friendly players makes the game obviously interesting for both Twitch streamers and YouTubers, on top of the fact that battle royale is a very streamable/YouTubable genre in general.
It’s hard to say how the popularity of Fortnite will affect YouTube Gaming, but my guess is that we will see a lot more battle royale games, both mobile and PC/console, on the gaming channels of YouTube in the future.”
All games are born differently, and all game companies have different approaches to creating games. At Traplight the process of getting new, exciting games out there relies on the creativity of the whole Traplight community, constant evaluation of the current market trends and our key development guidelines.
At Traplight everyone designs games. This means that anyone can develop a game idea, present it to the Traplight team in our Friday Open Mic meeting and get feedback from their colleagues. We ask the presented idea several questions:
Does the idea innovate something? Does it innovate too many things?
Which aspects of the idea are already proven by current, successful F2P games?
How much time would it take to test the new, innovative part of the concept?
What is the size of the core and meta game at their simplest?
What kind of social validation, community, creation or enhanced player autonomy features does the game have?
Traplight people presenting their ideas at Friday Open Mic
If the idea feels coherent and tightly packed with both proven and innovative aspects, and it has a solid take on our product vision, it might be green-lit to the next step: pre-production. During the 1 or 2 week process the pre-production team turns the idea into a game concept. The team answers questions about the core game, player progression, fantasy, target audience and other things that will help them achieve coherent game design. The design document has to also provide a plan for first playable, Alpha and Soft Launch versions. After the preproduction process the newly born concept is presented again to everyone. There is another round of feedback and if the plan seems solid and there are resources to start production, the game concept has a chance to be green-lit into production.
The production team, which has usually changed a bit from the original pre-production team, sets their own targets based on the amount of work ahead and the deliverables for each production checkpoint. The checkpoints are:
First Playable. This is the first version of the game that works and is meant for internal testing only. Big key features can still be missing, but the fun factor should already be there.
Alpha builds. The first Alpha version is the first time the game is tested with external people. First alpha tests D1 and interest, and the later alpha versions focus on D1-D7 retention.
Soft Launch. Where as Alpha versions focus on retention, the Soft Launch version already has monetisation in, and during Soft Launch the team focuses on optimising long-term retention and player LTV.
During production the project needs to meet certain goals and targets that we have set for our games. If it fails to do so, it might be killed at any point. We have noticed that killing projects as soon as warning signs arise is a much better option than keeping teams honing something that doesn’t meet our expectations.
During 2017 and the beginning of 2018 we’ve presented and evaluated 20-30 game ideas, and of those 7 moved to pre-production, and 3 have moved to production. The funnel is improving all the time as we learn more about what kind of ideas have a seed for greatness and how to make each step of the funnel more efficient.
We already have had a couple of first playables in internal testing, and one game currently in Alpha launch. As of now, Big Bang Racing is our only global live game, but we are looking forward to seeing our new projects reach Soft and Global Launch soon in the future.
Traplight Creative Director Sami Kalliokoski took part in an interesting panel in Casual Connect USA on 17th of January. The panel dived into how to make safe, easy and fun games that both kids and their parents can enjoy.
It has become clear to us at Traplight through our own experiences and by looking at current industry trends that User-Generated Content games are super interesting for kids. Because of the high interest towards creating, monetising UGC games comes naturally through the creation elements. Big Bang Racing became popular with kids a bit by accident, but if we were to focus more on making games for kids, we would also put a lot of effort into creating interesting and fun collection mechanics that have been proven to work great in games targeted towards younger audience.
The nature of User-Generated Content games means that players are able to basically create whatever they like. This makes it a challenge to control the content players create and to keep underage players safe. In Big Bang Racing players can give thumbs up or thumbs down on the created content, much like in social media, and the community is able to quickly hide offensive or not-kid-friendly content. There are also basic bad word filters in place to make sure that the names of levels, players or teams are not offensive. We would also like to highlight the importance of parents playing with their kids: a UGC game can be a kid’s first touch to social media like social interaction, and having a parent there will help them learn how to behave when interacting with other players and the content created by them.
Virality: When it comes to virality, our games rely heavily on the inherent social aspects of User-Generated Content: When you create something you also want to share it with others. In addition Traplight focuses on influencers to make our games visible in social media and YouTube. We put effort into making streaming and video creation easy inside our games. This will help influencers to create content for their fans, and also the players who just want to share their experiences with friends. We also add features that will help influencers create fun and engaging content utilising the User-Generated Content in our games.
User-generated content in games gives a lot of value to developers and players alike: virtually endless content created by the community keeps the game ever changing and interesting.
However, user-generated content also benefits gaming YouTubers in many ways. User-generated content games work in a very similar way as social media platforms: all content is created by the users, and all social interaction revolves around the content.
People like, share, comment on and create content inside the game, as well as set trends and try out new things. YouTubers can use these inherently social aspects of UGC to create engaging content that helps them stand out. Below are some of the things that UGC games offer influencers.
Social and engaged fans
Influencers aren’t just looking for a steadily growing number on their subscriber counter. To make their channels feel alive influencers prefer fans that are active to comment, like and share, and are eager to engage in activities set up by the influencer. Without sociality, the channel can soon feel dead, and not tempting for new fans to join in.
Through UGC the YouTuber can engage their fans on a different level than with traditional games. The YouTuber becomes part of the UGC social network and gets access to fans that are eager to share their creations and participate.
Incorporating player-created things intotheir videos, playing with their fans in content that they have created, or merely creating something for their fans are great ways to increase engagement.
One of the significant problems for any influencer is to find new, exciting things to do and talk about on their channel. For gaming YouTubers it takes a lot of time and effort to scout for new games, or discover new, compelling angles to the game that their channel revolves around.
With UGC there is no problem with new content. The player community is routinely producing new things in the game. Trends and fads are forming at a fast pace. The YouTuber just needs to dig in and pick the cherries for their channel.
A UGC game doesn’t necessarily need any updates from the developer, but the game is organically transforming through players’ actions and preferences.
A way to stand out
With 300 hours of video content uploaded to YouTube every single minute, it is sometimes tricky for YouTubers to stand out from the competition – especially when over 30 per cent of the content is gaming-related.
Gaming YouTubers have many solutions to get ahead – personality, different game genres, humour, skills – but it’s still a constant fight to find something that not every other channel is showing as well.
UGC can offer solutions to this problem. In a UGC game each gaming session for each player is unique for two reasons. Thanks to the sheer amount of content and the ever-changing nature of the game, you will always experience the game differently from others.
It is also easier to distinguish from the competition when highlighting these creative aspects of the game, and involving fan-created things in the videos. While many channels are showing exactly the same gaming experience with small variances in tactics and compositions, a channel with UGC games can either create entirely new content or show unique things made by others.
Influencers and UGC just work together. This is why we are focusing most of our marketing efforts on influencers. We are excited to dig deeper into this relationship and offer influencers better ways to utilise UGC for creating great content for their fans.
These things include building special features for them inside our games, giving them unique content that no one else has, or bringing them in on the game’s development process early on to provide feedback. Our goal is to not only make our products highly ‘YouTubable’, but also give value to influencers, their channels, and their fans through our games.
We asked our staff what makes Traplight a great place to work. The answers varied from breakfast perks to having great people around, but one thing stood out very clearly: We love working at Traplight because of our strong user-generated content vision.
According to the poll, it gives us ‘an exciting design challenge with extra difficulty’. We really enjoy creating games with the players, taking gaming to another level and seeing the things our players create.
A clear, unifying vision is essential for a great work environment. However, a clear vision on its own won’t make a company appealing, if all basic stuff is not in order. Based on our experience we’ve gathered a list of things we feel a game company should have to be a truly great workplace for all it’s employees.
This has already become sort of an inside joke: games companies need to have a great office, and there’s almost a competition on who has the coolest and most unique space.
It’s no wonder though: we spend at least a third of our day in the workplace so we should feel comfortable there. We have invested in a central location and a creative, cozy and spacious office that fills all our daily needs from teamwork, design and big meetings to napping, gaming and relaxing.
One of the things we gathered from our poll was that Traplight’s people love our office because ‘it feels like being at home’. In the morning we leave home, only to enter another. How cool is that! We included the whole company in the design process of our office and talked about what kind of an atmosphere we want to set. The end result is a place that everyone feels connected with and want to hang out in even after hours.
On top of having a great physical space it’s also important to invest in perks. We have masseuse and other fun benefits, but according to the poll, our most liked perks are actually our Monday breakfast and our parties.
Why? Because in these occasions we hang with each other and have great discussions. We start our week with a breakfast delivery every Monday, get everyone around the same table and have a relaxed meeting where we share our week’s goals.
The perfect fit
When asked what makes Traplight a great place to work, one of the most common answers relates to us as a group: ‘people’, ‘great colleagues’, ‘my co-workers’, ‘friendships’, ‘passionate peeps’ etcetera.
Hiring the right people is really important, as we all know. Being a perfect fit for our culture and having social skills and the right personality are the most important things we look for in a candidate. You can always learn new skills needed for a specific position, but learning an open mind, communication and trust in yourself and your team are way harder.
Growth and learning
In a workplace where trust is at the centre of all interaction, people can be themselves and they trust others to accept each other as they are. Being yourself takes a load off your back and releases resources for more important things, like making awesome games!
In a workplace like this you can also make mistakes. Through mistakes you learn, and learning makes you better at, guess what, making awesome games! We think that growing and learning are a part of work life as well, and they make coming to work every day more meaningful.
People hanging out after work is not necessary, but it is a great sign. It means that the work community is knit together and it’s not just a group of people who work together.
Based on the poll, we here at Traplight put high value in having real friends and friendships at the workplace. We have lots of hobbies and free time activities we enjoy with each other: doing sports, hanging out at the office after hours, having parties and get-togethers as well as playing online or tabletop games.
Independent and autonomous teams
Having the right environment and people are the basis of a good workplace, but the working habits are the thing that separate a well functioning company from a ragtag group of friends.
At Traplight the cornerstone of our work are our small and autonomous teams that design their own schedules and roadmaps. Having a lot of freedom doesn’t mean no responsibility; the teams answer to the whole company and show their progress every week in our Friday Open Mic meetings.
Through feedback, questions and help from others they make sure the project stays on target.
Mutual respect and trust
Trust and respect were things that came up as one of the key factors why people like working at Traplight. We trust everyone to be an expert at what they do, and that they are always doing their best.
In practice this means that ‘no one is watching over your shoulder as you deliver’. It also means ‘freedom’, ‘flexible rules’ and ‘mutual respect and appreciation of each others’ effort’. People taking leadership over their own and their team’s work is a result of building the company culture around trust.
Common vision and challenge
Out of all things that you need to build a great workplace, this is the hardest. It’s also the most important: A unifying vision that each and every person in the company can stand behind.
The vision of a company should excite, give promise of an amazing future, and most importantly give a challenge. If there is no challenge, it means whatever the company is aiming to do has been done a million times before.
At Traplight our goal is to crack the secret code of user-generated content gaming on mobile. It’s a great challenge that makes us all raise the bar for our effort. It is what gives Traplight it’s flavour, and what keeps us with the company through thick and thin.
The intrinsic motivations that a unifying vision bring are the final touch needed to get from a ‘good working place’ to an amazing one.
User-Generated Content is often associated with social media, where all posts, shares, and comments are user created. However, UGC is no stranger to games either – level editors and modding has been a common occurrence in games for decades.
At Traplight, we see UGC as enhanced player autonomy – an increased pool of choices and possibilities the players have in the game. That autonomy starts with how you control the game and create your unique playing style. The playing style as such is rarely cited as UGC. But when you look at, for example, placing points on talent trees to twist game mechanics, customizing characters and all that express our identities as players, it is not so clear where the player choices are UGC.
This is especially true in social F2P games. The same goes for user-created characters, storylines, and tactics that become popular. In Clash Royale, Supercell has named decks after players who started using a particular unit combination in a successful way.
“Jason’s Deck” became popular after his win at Helsinki Tournament in 2016.
While UGC has been a big part of games for a long time (in the form of autonomy), there is one question that divides UGC games into two main categories. This question is about how UGC is used in a game: how does the created content help the content creator achieving their goals in the game? We have identified two-high level approaches to UGC games: Player Centric UGC and Creator Centric UGC.
The first approach – which we call Player Centric UGC – is the more popular one of the two. It is used through enhanced player autonomy to give the players an edge over another, via strategic city layouts, counter-decks, and tactical character synergies. The signature of this approach is direct competition between the players. In other words, players customize their gameplay to win. Thanks to the success of this approach, there is a high population of city builders, RPGs, and MOBAs in the mobile F2P market.
The second approach – which we call Creator Centric UGC – is used to gain social validation. Instead of optimizing player power to win, the creators use their enhanced autonomy to craft enjoyable gameplay experiences by setting flow, pacing, elements of surprise, and unique visuals of their creations. If they succeed in entertaining other players, they receive likes that convert into other rewards. In this approach, players create content for other players’ enjoyment – much as game developers do. Big Bang Racing – with it’s 8 million player-created tracks – was born from this approach.
These two high-level approaches have different end goals. The player-centric is aiming for power through winning and is rewarded by more power and higher social standing (leaderboard, rank) based on your success. The latter aims for social validation and is rewarded by increased social influence and size of an audience. Large audience grants players a possibility to start their own trend in the game – an achievement that is comparable to having a deck named after you in Player Centric UGC.
In Big Bang Racing, the level creators receive likes from other players. Top creators have tens of thousands of in-game followers.
The Creator Centric UGC has lots of similarities with UGC in current social media. They both rely on people delivering interesting content, giving and receiving social validation, and growing a following. They both also allow opportunity for becoming an influencer, much like streamers in YouTube and Twitch, but inside a game, by providing your unique content to your audience of other players. In Big Bang Racing, the highest rated creators have tens of thousands of followers.
But in social media, there is no direct way to monetize you UGC content creation process. This is because the content creation tools – cameras, cell phones or animated gif makers – are external to social media platforms. The camera and the skills used to take great pictures for Instagram or Facebook, attracting thousands of likes, are external to the publishing platform.
In UGC games, the content creation tools are internal to the game, creating a new kind of potential for monetization. Here lies the unique puzzle in UGC gaming – how to monetize player creation process and longing for social acceptance.
Our Community and Marketing Manager Veera Rouvinen was recently interviewed for the influencer marketing focused website InfluencerUpdate.biz about the interesting and successful YouTuber campaign we built for the launch of Big Bang Racing.
In short, we organised a pre-launch party for our game Big Bang Racing on June 27th 2016, and invited a group of YouTubers from USA, Spain, Netherlands, Norway and Croatia over to test the game. We asked them to give us feedback on how to improve the game, and to make it more ‘YouTubable’. We got great results: amazing feedback and valuable info that we wouldn’t have gotten without hanging out with these people face-to-face.
The relationships we built with the influencers and the learnings we got about how they work are super valuable to us. In addition we were able to find new ways to work with the influencers, and to provide them and their channels value for example with custom in-game items.
Check out the full article in the link below for details about the campaign and how it went down:
We wish Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Amazing Holiday Season for all of our friends in Finland and abroad. Thank you for sharing the year 2017 with us. For us, 2018 will be full of exciting things, and we are ready! Please join us for the ride.
Traplight Xmas Party
We had a traditional Finnish “Little Christmas Party” (pikkujoulut in Finnish) on 15th of December. The program of the day included going to sauna, the Friday Open Mic meeting where the teams shared their current progress, Secret Santa gifts, gingerbread baking competition, Mexican bingo, Stiga Table Ice Hockey tournament, decorating the tree with our own UGC decorations and of course some delicious food and drinks!
Thanks to the whole Traplight team for an awesome party, and for the amazing year 2017. We worked hard to create new teams, new games and new ways of working, and we are excited now to see things move forward. Let’s make awesome things happen in 2018!
Here are some pictures from our party:
The UGC tree and Secret Santa gifts decorating our living room corner.
Finland vs. Sweden, the ultimate ice hockey match!
Checking out the current state of our games.
Getting ready for Secret Santa. Santa’s Little Helper on the right was too eager to stay still for the panorama photo.
The final moments of the first ever ‘Peter’s Peppars’ gingerbread competition. The judge has the difficult task of evaluating the submissions.
After the launch of our first User-Generated Content mobile game Big Bang Racing in the summer of 2016 our team went through massive changes. During 2016 and the beginning of 2017 Traplight grew from 13 to 25 people, and the tight group that once was just a single team working on one game was now separated into 3-4 small teams. This change brought us new challenges.
We noticed that it was harder and harder to maintain great communication between different teams. After moving to a new office in July 2017, the teams got their long-awaited working space and peace, but the downside was that we were quite separated now. In the old, small office we were literally right next to each other all the time. Communication flowed then, but soon after moving to a larger office we realised that our communication was based on physical proximity rather than practices that were scalable. We needed something new to help us in this situation.
We chat a lot with other game companies to share experiences and to learn. The idea of having weekly, casual and open-ended meetings came from our good friends at Space Ape. They have had a tradition of teams telling about their current progress during Friday afternoons. After hearing about this habit, we decided to make our own version of it. And so the Friday Open Mic meetings were born. Every Friday at 15.00 we gather in the living room for an hour of sharing.
The teams took on this habit quickly and started to show their current product progress in the Open Mic. This turned out to be an excellent tool for keeping everyone up to date on what the teams are working on, and how they are doing. It’s also the perfect place for teams to ask feedback for everything from different art style tests to early game play prototypes. The fact that no progress is too small to show to others has encouraged everyone, and each presentation or talk is met with applause as a thank you.
In addition to teams, everyone else can also step up and show things. More and more people have taken this opportunity to tell about their work outside the game teams (like marketing, support and analytics), or share things they have recently learned. All new game ideas are presented in Open Mic as well. The inquisitive and open atmosphere of the meeting has also encouraged us to bring up issues, worries and problems: It is a safe space where those kinds of things can be discussed.
The idea of the Open Mic is to keep everyone on the same page and excited: Hearing, seeing and learning new things every week. It’s an amazing tool that we are constantly developing. Based on a recent round of feedback we, for example, set more defined time slots for each topic to make sure the meeting stays condensed and started to share notes from the meetings on a dedicated channel. We also decided that if interesting discussions start during Open Mic, those would be continued later in another meeting or after Open Mic has ended. Issues, problems and worries that are brought up are also treated the same way: If the problem is not solved in 10-15 minutes, it is acknowledged together and appointed another time for the solving or deeper discussion.
All in all, the Friday Open Mic has been one of the best habits we have taken on recently. As simple as the idea is, it has done wonders for our communication, team spirit and collaborative effort to move towards the same goal. It has already caused other interesting habits to spin out of it and helped us to understand each other’s work and the company’s direction a lot better.
Here’s what they wrote about us: “User generated content isn’t a big thing for mobile games, but Tampere-based Traplight is out to change all that. Its game Big Bang Racing lets players build, share and race their own crazy tracks, and with millions of tracks created, it’s clear people love the opportunity.”