Twitter’s Waning Relevance: A Gathering Storm for Game Developers
It’s a tough time in the world of social media, right? like Twitter Working directly on a range of technical and policy problems, a new wave of potential users is spreading and taking root elsewhere. Some of these new platforms are dedicated spaces, while others are powered by some of the biggest names – both individual and corporate – in the tech world.
The video game industry has long used Twitter to communicate with its players. As a community-building tool and a direct way to provide critical updates and technical assistance, publishers and developers alike have harnessed the chaotic power of Twitter for more than a decade. So what do video game developers think of the current state of Twitter with Elon Musk in charge? We sat down and talked to some at Develop 2023 to find out.
“We don’t really use Twitter anymore,” says Connor Clark, director of marketing and communications for Gang Beasts developer Boneloaf. The multiplayer PvP game has been out for nearly a decade and has greeted countless viewers online with its wacky fighting style.
“This is a conscious decision because, at the end of last year, we saw a lot of platform changes thanks to a significant change in leadership that I personally don’t like (…) I tried to avoid all that dark stuff, all those algorithms that drive Andrew Tate forward. So I don’t like it at all.”
While developers like Bone Loaf have moved away from Twitter in this period of turmoil, other platforms have welcomed it with open arms. TikTok in particular (as a short-form video platform) seems to have made a big hit to the game, despite its aging state.
“What we found is Gang Beasts is very popular on TikTok! We didn’t really have a presence there, but we had over a billion views there, and we were like ‘Wow that’s unbelievable!'” TikTok is clearly a younger audience, and we’ve been talking to some of the folks at TikTok to build our presence there. It’s all taken off, and the discovery there is amazing.
“You know, all social media companies are evil, and they take all your data. So somehow there is no way to be ethically okay on these platforms in a sustainable way. But the best bad group is TikTok, where we have a lot of fun creating content for our community” .
Mike Rose, CEO of indie publisher No More Robots, shared no matter what Twitter’s current state is. Rose was quick to point out the stark differences between Twitter of the past and the online version of today, thanks in large part to business decisions made by current owner Elon Musk.
Rose says, “He’s just an idiot, right?” “The thing is, I stupidly created part of my business on Twitter. The main reason we did so well, especially in the early days of No More Robots, was because I played the Twitter game so well. I could see in the days we sold a thousand copies of a game Because of a series of tweets. He was very powerful to me. And then, of course, he came and took advantage of everything. And now it’s a little useless to me.”
Since the No More Robots Twitter account doesn’t have Twitter Blue, or an official company tag, the company’s social media strategy for the platform has taken something of a hands-off approach. Focused on informal and non-commercial businesses. “Honestly, I told amazing social media guy Zayaan a while ago, ‘Don’t worry about it anymore, post if you want to,'” says a frustrated Rose. “So he’s been posting cats every single day.”
But what about the biggest developers out there? While smaller developers have a longer legacy of direct community interaction on platforms like Twitter, is there still a sense of value lost in the minds of those at big-budget companies? Yes, as it turns out. As a creative industry, even those who don’t have a great deal of direct contact with their community still use it as a source of encouragement.
Emberlab COO Josh Greer spoke with me about the release period of Kena: Bridge of Spirits, and how social media provided the studio a window into the game’s reception. We jumped on Twitter because of the game’s release. We had an amazing community manager, and the personal contact with the players and the positive feedback we got was very helpful to the team leading the release and publishing the release. It was like; well, wow, we made something that touched people and we can see That point of contact, and it’s a shame to lose it.”
However, for Arctic7’s COO John Burns (a studio with its own projects yet to be released in these turbulent times) there’s nothing to worry about: With decades of industry experience, innovation and adaptability are the foundation of its methodology.
“It’s the marketing, the public relations and the communication with the players,” Burns says. “You always need to innovate. 20 years ago it was all about advertising in movies, or outdoor advertising, or in print magazine ads. Nowadays, it’s all about digital and using different channels. See, digital channels are always changing in terms of what They offer it, you know, the market moves.
“Just in the last couple of weeks we’ve seen a new social media platform with the right leads? So I’m sure that’s going to be a thing.”
It seems, then, that feeling around Twitter is mixed; As some developers and publishers mourn the loss of Twitter’s text-friendly micro-blogging setup, others are excited about what the future holds when it comes to other social media platforms. Twitter may not have the same oomph as it used to, but plenty of industry veterans are happy to go down with the ship. So to speak.
If you’re looking for more developer features from Develop 2023, we’ve got this feature on how developers feel about Game Pass and PS+ for you to read!