“Far Cry, God of War, Monster Hunter, Super Smash Bros – all of them while seeing a good share of interaction from Facebook users, aren’t even close to what Beat Saber was able to produce.”
Compiling the data needed for the latest issue of TACTICS magazine (the March 2018 issue can be read here), shone a light on a number of interesting stories. Whether it’s the fact arcade racer Burnout Paradise still holds up according to critics currently standing at an 85% average review score. Or the wild popularity Far Cry 5 has seen with key influencers despite the game only being out for the last few days of March, there’s stores to tell at every turn. Perhaps the most surprising of all however was related to Facebook.
Fortnite is killing it at the moment in every way imaginable, there’s no denying that. We’ve seen it overtake the once thought to be invincible PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and even celebrities like Drake and Roseanne Barr singing its praises over Twitter and Twitch. To put it simply, it’s everywhere and there’s no avoiding it. As we reflect over the month of March it’s the clear king of PR whilst also absolutely dominating both Twitter and YouTube when talking new and future releases. However there’s one source where Fortnite wasn’t top dog – Facebook. That honour went to VR game Beat Saber.
I must admit, when I saw the name pop up, I had to check online what it actually was. Was it a beat ’em up? A shooter maybe? One quick gameplay clip and a few enthusiastic hands-on reports later though and I couldn’t be more excited to get my hands (and head) on this VR experience. For those unaware, Beat Saber is a rhythm based combat-like game played in VR. In it cubes (representing beats) fly toward the player each with a direction on them. With motion controls in hand you’ll need to slash each cube in the correct direction using virtual lightsabers. The developer describes it as “mashup of Guitar Hero and Fruit Ninja in VR” and judging by the footage I’ve seen that seems pretty accurate. Check out the footage below to judge for yourself.
So how did an independent VR title manage to rise up our Facebook chart and see the highest number of Facebook shares for any new or future release over the month of March?
It appears of the 239,000 shares the game received, website Gamespot play a large role in this figure. In fact nearly 200,000 of those shares were accumulated from a single post of theirs, the content of which includes a well produced video showcasing the game being played on its hardest difficulty and the caption “Beat Saber is basically Musical Lightsabers”. Along with shares, the post has seen nearly 100,000 reactions (barely any of which are negative emojis) and just under 30,000 comments. So why this game and why this post? While our data has shown that Facebook posts featuring videos are more likely to see engagement with users than those with comments or images, there must be more to it than that? Perhaps its the reference to popular franchise Star Wars and the constant pursuit of fans to find that one experience that allows you to feel like a Jedi? The video also does a fantastic job of illustrating how the game will deliver on this idea, something that is likely to appeal to a wide audience especially with the use of motion controls. Bottom line, the video looks cool and therefore the game looks cool.
Only three games received over 200,000 shares during March – Beat Saber, the newly announced Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII and of course Fortnite. It’s a truly impressive feat to see any new IP compete with the bigger more well established brands but when its one from a small independent team that even goes on to best its competition, that’s shocking, in the best kind of way. Far Cry, God of War, Monster Hunter, Super Smash Bros – all of them while seeing a good share of interaction from Facebook users, aren’t even close to what Beat Saber was able to produce.
More than anything though, Beat Saber’s strong performance is encouraging for a number of reasons. It’s encouraging for traditional media, showing that they still have a firm hold on the gamers out there. While key influencers might be leaving their mark on YouTube, it appears press are carrying the weight when it comes to social media like Facebook. This story is encouraging for virtual reality, a technology that may not be the big revolutionary next step many expected it to be, but one that’s certainly gaining momentum with every fresh new experience including Beat Saber. Most importantly though, this is encouraging for indie developers out there. Beat Saber’s success with Facebook in March shows there’s room on social media for games of all scope and size and whether you’re a massive AAA title or a small-budget release you’re voice can be heard in a big way.