Case study: Crytek

How this AAA publisher uses Prezly to keep up with influencers

crytek cover

From launching AAA titles like Far Cry to experimenting with VR gameplay and operating game development platform CRYENGINE, Crytek has become an industry household name since their birth back in 1999.

But even industry heroes have their hurdles.

For Crytek, these were two-fold. Firstly, how do you maintain an up-to-date global database of contacts and influencers when the parameters are always shifting? And secondly, how do you continue to land coverage for your title more than a year after launch?

The answer: a hell of a lot of organisation.

We spoke with Jens Schäfer, Crytek's Head of Communications, to find out how he uses Prezly to keep up with influencers and rein in some of that chaos.

Triple-A

Crytek is one of the most well-known independent gaming companies in the world, functioning as both developer and publisher to a whole host of popular FPSs, such as the AAA Far Cry franchise and Crysis series, as well as Ryse: Son of Rome and many more.

Not only that, but Crytek is the mastermind behind the hugely successful CRYENGINE – a cutting-edge 3D game dev engine first launched alongside the initial Far Cry instalment and used to power every Crytek game since. CRYENGINE is ranked among the very top game dev engines alongside Epic's Unreal Engine and Unity, and is available free to anyone wanting to create games for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Oculus Rift and more.

Crytek featured its gameplay trailer for Hunt: Showdown as well as extensive galleries in the lead up to the title's release in Q3 2019

Now continuing to build hugely entertaining games for PC, consoles and VR, Crytek is concentrating on growing its reach in the games-as-a-service market. Crytek's latest project is survival horror multiplayer shooter Hunt: Showdown; check out their Prezly newsroom for the latest updates.

The challenge

Jens is a Crytek veteran, having been with the company since 2008. As Jens will tell you himself, if you're going to run a successful global operation, you need to have a database that works.

"We have our headquarters here in Frankfurt, Germany, and we serve in the international market so we work on a global scale. Sometimes we have agency support in key territories, but in the rest of the world, we serve ourselves. And so it's important to stay up-to-date and have a database that works, that you can update easily."

“It's very important to spend as little time as needed to get all these tasks done in order to focus on other more important things.”

Normally, keeping a database of more than 50 people anywhere near current requires constant checking and the manual updating of various spreadsheets, and that takes a significant amount time that could be better spent on storytelling and engagement.

Crytek's database numbers more than 2,500 and keeps on growing.

And for a global customer-facing company championing games-as-a-service, the challenge is particularly tricky.

“We go to events, we use social media a lot. Press, of course, broadcasters like Twitch streamers and influencers of all shapes and sizes on YouTube. That's our core audience that we talk to every day.”

"In the gaming industry specifically, it's very fast-lived. So there's always the next thing," explains Jens. "There was the rise of Twitch, for example, where everybody said, 'Okay. Maybe PR is not the most effective anymore and maybe we have to talk to broadcasters or people that are on YouTube.'

crytek the climb screenshot

The Climb is a first person VR game, Crytek developed in partnership with Oculus VR

"And then suddenly we have a new platform emerge, like Mixer – that's the Microsoft live-streaming platform – and suddenly you need to have your database react to that. And then maybe in half a year, there's another huge platform or ten popping up in Asia."

“There's almost always something completely new emerging and you have to be able to filter for that. That's where it helps a lot have a tool like Prezly.”

This isn't something that would have been relevant in the pre-internet era, when information and coverage was curated by big, official entities: magazines, television broadcaster, newspapers. Online, there are no gatekeepers: anyone can publish content.

"In the last few years, we have seen influencers become the dominating force in content creation and media relations, and we needed to define new processes to successfully navigate this new media landscape," says Jens. "Prezly helps us to categorise and track these contact details and to streamline our processes."

Games-as-a-Service

At the same time, Crytek faced another challenge: keeping outlets interested in a continual rollout of in-game updates.

"Right now, we're working on Hunt: Showdown. That is an online multiplayer game that operates on a game-as-a-service business model. So that means we release the game and then update it frequently. We have to get new content in. We have to tell our community about it. We also have to tell the press about it and broadcasters alike."

These updates can range from new items, new features, maps to explore or completely new game modes, and they are fundamental to the players' experience.

“We use the usual Office Suite or, at times, even Google. But when it comes to database, it's only Prezly.”

"The challenging part is that everybody likes to report on a new game, but not so much on a game that is already two years on the market – or, in our case, over one year – and then just has bigger and smaller patches and updates launching. So we really have to find a way to get that information across as easily as possible in order to still get some fresh eyeballs on our updates."

Crytek Ryse Son of Rome

Crytek's Ryse: Son of Rome was released as a launch title for the Xbox One

So while the most popular online multiplayer games get coverage, unless your title is the flavour of the month, it's hard to get your patch notes in the limelight.

"We know everybody's talking about them, because we have a lot of traffic on articles like these, verified click rates – everybody likes it. But when you're not in the top five, the challenge is to still get that coverage for a game that's already been live for a longer time."

Enter Prezly

"Before Prezly, our workflow used to be very time consuming, because we had a lot of data that mostly lived in Excel documents and a rudimentary database that wasn’t flexible enough to react on any changes of the media landscape. We had a lot of contact data and emails, and then maybe lists from trade shows and more. Now, those don't stay up to date when nobody is really updating them. Also it’s not much fun to update data that isn’t in just one spot."

This is one of the biggest problems with using spreadsheets to manage contacts: they quickly become unwieldy and grow out of date. On top of this, it's easy to get stuck with incorrect or duplicate entries, particularly when there's more than one contact list floating about within your team or when trying to keep up with rapidly shifting areas, like YouTube influencer marketing. It's also something we were determined to solve when building Prezly.

“We looked at at least three different platforms and at the end of the day, Prezly had the best deal for us – the best tool and the best conditions.”

"It's a very manual process to keep up a constant dialogue with everyone, and sometimes we try to automate it a little," says Jens. "That's where Prezly comes in handy. To have an up-to-date database, the possibility to send emails, newsletters, then also see who opened them, who reacted to them, all of that – it's very useful."

campaign opens and clicks gif

Prezly shows you straightforward engagement data on a per-contact basis for every campaign sent

By integrating your whole media list into a dedicated contact database, your entire team can make updates, leave notes for one another on each contact's timeline, and create tags to easily organise contacts by beat, geography and more.

“Prezly really helped us to put it altogether, put it in one bucket where you can find it again. That is what really helps, I think, in doing the job.”

"In the last few years, we have seen influencers become the dominating force in content creation and media relations, and we needed to define new processes to successfully navigate this new media landscape. Prezly helps us to categorise and track these contact details and to streamline our processes."

"Actually, there’s something else we like a lot about Prezly: it's very flexible because of tags and all the things you can do with them. We've used other tools before, and sometimes you just hit a wall and then you have to jump through hoops in order to build out your contact data," says Jens.

mass untagging feature

You can tag or untag contacts individually or in bulk with our straightforward CRM

"Prezly makes it easy to tag contacts and segment them into groups. This enables us to deliver news to the right contacts and avoid spamming the rest, which helps us keep our communications relevant."

In addition, you get real-time info on open and click rates for campaigns, and automatic flags for emails that are outdated or don't work. Goodbye manual busywork, hello progress!

What part of Prezly do you use most?

"I guess we use all of it," says Jens. "So we use Contacts, of course. That's the bread and butter, I think, of the tool. And then whenever we have some news, we use Stories and Campaigns to get them out. I would say the segmentation filtering of the contacts and campaigns is probably what we use the most. Also, data security was a concern and Prezly checked all the boxes."

campaign personalise send animated gif 180319

Prezly's campaign builder makes it easy to personalise, schedule and send pitches

Contacts is the contact management area of our software – the part that helps you organise, segment and track your relationship with every single person on your media list. Stories is our inbuilt and fully multimedia-friendly editor where you can easily create beautifully formatted press releases and posts to publish in your fully branded newsroom, or distribute to your audience via Campaigns. For a full overview of these features, check out our tour page.

“Prezly makes it easy to tag contacts and segment them into groups. This enables us to deliver news to the right contacts and avoid spamming the rest, which helps us keep our communications relevant.”

Jens uses a combination of the Stories and Campaigns areas to tease contacts into wanting to know more about Crytek's updates.

"Sometimes we send out campaigns of stories which are not published. So, for example, when we want to tease something so broadcasters know that there's new content coming that's exclusive for them, we might only use campaigns," Jens tells us. "Or even from time to time export all the data we have, try to refine it again a little bit further according to our needs, upload it again."

Building it beautiful

Another feature vital to Crytek's PR strategy is to use multimedia within its comms to get people excited about their news, and to arm journalists and influencers with content they can then use in their coverage, videos and social channels.

"It's essential because the medium of video games is an audio/visual one, so you also have to use videos and screenshots and gifs and whatnot to get the content across over to convey what's cool in your game," explains Jens. "It's not something static like a product that you buy in the supermarket. It's an audio/visual medium and we have to make sure we use everything that's possible."

crytek newsroom gif

Crytek's newsroom is host to the business's latest stories and media

This is something we hear again and again from PR people across all walks of life, but it's particularly poignant in a visual-rich industry like gaming.

"I think colourful press releases are more successful than just plain text, at least for the gaming industry, because games are a predominantly visual medium and because people’s attention spans are getting shorter and we compete with a growing number of other games," says Isabell Cordes, a PR & Communications Manager at gamigo group, one of Europe's leading MMO publishers. You can read gamigo's full case study here.

“The clean and straight-forward contacts interface, the easy contact merging functions, and the ability to add custom tags helps a lot when it comes to keeping everything organised.”

"If you just present them with a 5-pager, they will most likely not read it and not cover the story. But if you include a nice feature video and some appealing inserts, journalists are much more inclined to take a look at your press release and get that information to the reader. We noticed a trend in that."

Tom Weber from Kolibri Games says the same. Given that including images and videos in your press release can land you over 77% more views than using text alone means that in 2019, there's no excuse not to.

Closing notes...

The mobility of influencers and journalists in the gaming industry is a persistent challenge that modern comms has yet to solve, but it is possible to make the process of keeping up with these contacts less painful through the use of technology.

Whether it's our CRM or another relationship manager, by finding a tool that integrates with as many of your day-to-day processes as possible, you can cut down the time you spend hopping between apps and instead find additional niches where you can add value – for instance, tracking how contacts engage with your emails and pitching them only the types of stories in which they're interested.

“The clean and straightforward contacts interface, the easy contact merging functions, and the ability to add custom tags helps a lot when it comes to keeping everything organised.”

By creating content that's relevant to particular contacts and using tags to carefully segment his audience, Jens is able to secure coverage again and again, even for titles operating a game-as-a-service model.

"Prezly makes it easy to tag contacts and segment them into groups. This enables us to deliver news to the right contacts and avoid spamming the rest, which helps us keep our communications relevant."

Big thank you to Jens for taking the time to let us into his workflow, challenges and lessons learned! To keep up with Crytek's latest, hit them up on Twitter, LinkedIn or, of course, their brilliant Prezly newsroom.

To see how Prezly can help your stories gain traction, take the tour or check out our gaming page 👾