mindGAME: Content drops ruled The Game Awards, not celebrities

mindGAME: Content drops ruled The Game Awards, not celebrities

Last week, The Game Awards honored 2023’s best titles and previewed upcoming titles. In addition to record setting viewership, the show flooded gamers with trailers and announcements. Amidst the outpouring of news, mindGAME’s data measures what resonated with players and the announcements that were lost in the deluge.

“The Game Awards continues to be the biggest night in gaming (and in entertainment, really), but as we’ve seen in the past, the sheer number of announcements, advertisements, awards and performances makes it difficult for many games to stick out during the night,” said Brian Rodgers, founder and product lead of mindGAME. “To compare the performance and breakthrough of all the night’s nominees, announcements and ads, mindGAME uses a metric called mindSHARE — top-of-mind awareness and interest in a game relative to all other games. MindSHARE is a composite measure of online search, video search, social media activity, and players, providing a more holistic view than any one channel provides.”

Baldur’s Gate 3 toped mindGAME’s charts

Baldur’s Gate III was the clear winner at 2023’s edition of The Game Awards. Larian Studios’ epic outing based on Dungeons and Dragons took home six awards. These included both Game of the Year and the fan-voted Players’ Voice award. Excluding widely played favorites like League of Legends and Genshin Impact, Baldur’s Gate III had the highest peak mindSHARE at nearly 18% of conversations.

Alan Wake 2’s musical performance was buzz-worthy.

The only other Game of the Year nominee that made a significant splash was Alan Wake 2. However, interest peaked at 3.7% before Game of the Year was announced. This was likely a result of the musical number performed during the show due to the peak occurring before the GOTY award.

MindGAME’s next standout of the night was the show closer: Monster Hunter Wilds. Capcom’s surprise announcement peaked at 5.0% of the conversation. Not to be outdone, the surprise launch of Nexon’s The Finals commanded 4.1% of mindSHARE during the show. The other reveals that had strong showings were Dragon Ball Sparking Zero (2.5%), God of War: Ragnarök’s Valhalla DLC (2.3%), Jurassic Park: Survival (1.6%), Light No Fire (1.6%) and Black Myth Wukong (1.3%).

As for indies, Cocoon and Tchia were the clear standouts. Cocoon peaked at 1.9% of mindSHARE while Tchia followed with 1.7%.

Content is king

While piquing players’ interest is valuable, the biggest winners from The Game Awards are the titles that retained attention after the show.

Games with content drops sustained attention long after The Game Awards.

While The Finals caught players’ eyes during the show, the game built on that attention and sustained it. In the days following its release, the free-to-play title peaked at over 240,000 concurrent players on Steam. According to SteamDB, this beats Baldur’s Gate III and Call of Duty’s all-time peak concurrent players on the platform.

MindGAME’s data reflects The Finals success, with the game earning 4.7% of mindSHARE in the days following release. After launching, The Finals completely eclipsed Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora which released the day before.

Unlike it’s fellow Game of the Year nominees, Baldur’s Gate III also held fans’ attention long after the show ended. Part of this is likely due to the game’s launch on Xbox, which was announced at the end of the show.

Similarly, the God of War: Ragnarök – Valhalla and Final Fantasy XVI: Echoes of the Fallen kept their momentum. MindGAME’s data shows that new DLCs helped capitalize on players attention after the show.

“With more than 125 games represented at The Game Awards this year, a few games found a winning strategy with ‘instant gratification’ announcements like The Finals’ full release, Baldur’s Gate 3’s Xbox announcement and God of War’s free Valhalla DLC. Games taking the standard reveal route found themselves lost in a sea of trailers,” said Rodgers.

While Lego Fortnite dropped shortly before the show, the game capitalized on the attention to reignite interest. Moreover, the Rocket League spin-off, Rocket Racing, built on that attention in the days that followed.

Celebrities didn’t move the needle

This year’s Game Awards was a star-studded affair. In addition to big names like Anthony Mackie and Timothée Chalamet presenting awards, celebrities like Jordan Peele, Matthew McConaughey and Simu Liu promoted upcoming games.

The Game Awards’ celebrity endorsements had minimal long-term impact.

While these appearances certainly made headlines, mindAME’s data shows that these endorsements did not create sustained interest. Hideo Kojima’s OD saw the biggest bump from The Game Awards, peaking at 0.9% of mindSHARE. However, it did not sustain this visibility. Similarly, the newly announced Exodus made a moderate splash with 0.5% of mindSHARE. Stormgate from Frost Giant Studios received the smallest bump from a celebrity endorsement, reaching 0.4% of mindSHARE.

None of these celebrity endorsed titles launched new content during the show. While it can be valuable to promote titles far ahead of their release, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle at The Game Awards. MindGAME’s data indicates that immediate content releases maximize impact.

“Overall, The Game Awards is still one of the year’s best opportunities for a memorable marketing beat but that’s the key,” said Rodgers. “Marketers must find a way to make your game one of the 10% of games to be talked about (or played!) for the rest of the week, otherwise your game will get lost in the mix.”

MindGAME’s dataset for The Game Awards is available here – full screen is recommended for the best experience.

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