Boosting game success with user-generated content

Explore the use of user-generated content (UGC) in game promotion, with the game “Among Us” as a key example.
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The gaming landscape is a thriving ecosystem where success is not only predicated on the quality of a game but also on its promotion. An increasingly popular tool in the arsenal of game developers is user-generated content (UGC). UGC refers to any content – text, images, videos, reviews – created by players. However, leveraging UGC for game promotion requires encouraging its creation, understanding how to use it effectively, and navigating inherent challenges, all of which will be explored in this article through the lens of the breakout hit mobile game, “Among Us.”

To encourage UGC, the game must be inherently conducive to content creation. Developers can enable this by including compelling gameplay mechanics, unique visuals, or shared multiplayer experiences. These elements invite players to share their gaming moments, create gameplay tutorials, or engage in online discussions about the game, all of which contribute to a robust UGC environment.

The next step is to facilitate channels where UGC can flourish. Social media platforms, gaming forums, and community platforms serve as excellent avenues for players to share their content, fostering a sense of community and engagement. Developers can then curate the best content from these channels for their promotional campaigns.

Engaging with influencers is another strategy that can generate high-quality UGC. Offering early access or exclusive features can motivate influencers to create content about the game, exposing it to a wider audience and stimulating additional UGC from their followers.

However, leveraging UGC is not without challenges. One key challenge is securing the necessary permissions to use player content for promotional purposes. This requires a combination of clear terms of service and direct requests for permission. Neglecting this step can lead to legal complications and potential backlash from the community.

Another challenge is the moderation and curation of UGC. Ensuring that the content aligns with the game’s branding, appeals to a broad player base, and maintains a respectful and positive tone is critical. Inappropriate or low-quality UGC can adversely affect the game’s reputation.

The case of “Among Us,” a multiplayer mobile game developed by InnerSloth in 2018, provides a concrete example of these principles in action. The game, which involves players working together to identify impostors among their crew, became wildly popular in mid-2020. This was largely due to the viral spread of UGC.

The suspenseful and engaging gameplay naturally led players to create and share gameplay clips, strategy discussions, and memes across platforms like YouTube, Twitch, Reddit, and Twitter. This organic spread of UGC, further amplified by popular influencers streaming their games, served as a potent promotional tool for “Among Us.” These streams often involved humorous or dramatic gameplay, which viewers found highly engaging. As these videos were shared widely, they effectively served as viral marketing for the game, attracting many new players.

The developers harnessed this momentum by actively engaging with the community, featuring UGC on their official channels, and responding to player feedback. However, they also faced challenges. As the game’s popularity surged, issues such as cheating and inappropriate player behavior surfaced. The developers had to swiftly address these problems to maintain the positive community environment and the game’s reputation.

Through their effective leveraging of UGC and diligent management of the challenges that arose, the “Among Us” team managed to sustain the game’s popularity long after its initial breakout.
Using user-generated content and transforming everyday players into a gang of organic marketers can be a powerful way to promote a game. By creating an environment suitable for UGC, facilitating its sharing, engaging with influencers, and responsibly handling the associated challenges, developers can support their promotional efforts, build a vibrant community, and ultimately drive the game’s success. The story of “Among Us” serves as a testament to the power of UGC and provides valuable insights for developers navigating the exciting realm of game promotion.

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