Day of Dragons: Harry Potter and the Algorithm of Searching

Rarely does a story come along so perfectly suited to demonstrating the importance of SEO in promoting your business. Enter Day of Dragons, an Online Dragon Survival Sandbox game in development by Beawesome Games.

After working quietly in the background for two years, this small team of indie developers began a Kickstarter campaign on September 2nd to secure funding for a professional 3D artist. Their goal? A relatively modest sum of $12,000. Over the next four days they secured $6,000 of funding, roughly $1,500 per day. Everything seemed to be going according to plan, and they were on track to meet their goal by the end of the month.

Then, seemingly out of nowhere, on September 7th the amount raised nearly doubled, with a total of $10,000 towards their goal secured by the end of the day. The following day saw a further $13,000 donated, enough money to meet their target in a single day. Skip forward to October 1st, the date their campaign was scheduled to end and the project had secured a grand total of $533,938 with over 12,000 backers.

 

So what happened? How did an obscure indie game explode onto the scene from out of the shadows to raise half a million dollars in the space of a month? What happened on September 7th?

Whether by accident or design, the Day of Dragons Kickstarter campaign fell neatly into place alongside the Day of the Dragons event in Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, an augmented reality mobile game developed by Niantic (Pokemon GO). This timed event began on September 7th, exactly the same time Beawesome Games saw a large spike in their donations.

According to the Day of Dragons developers and their fans, the two events are completely unrelated and the surge in interest is the result of coverage by a number of popular youtubers and word of mouth by the fans. Everyone else is pointing out the coincidental spike in traffic having such a popular franchise as Harry Potter associated with your name can generate. And then there are those who claim the whole thing is a massive scam (just like everything else). So which is it?

A quick search of youtube videos seems to put an end to the claims that this was the source of their newfound fame. The Day of Dragons First Flight Trailer was uploaded on August 28th and has 100,000 views, many of which came long after the Kickstarter campaign had started, with their youtube channel reaching the 100k views mark on October 12th. Larger gaming channels began to pick up the story after this point.

Youtube, dragons, Harry Potter. What does any of this have to do with Search Engine Optimisation?

Well, when you examine the search results for Day of Dragons and Day of the Dragons, things start to become a little clearer.

As you can see, Day of Dragons dominates the first page of google, with only two results for the Wizards Unite event. Next, we take a look at the popularity of Day of Dragons as a search phrase.

Once again we see a large spike in interest on September 7th, with the search term peaking in popularity as the story spread across Youtube and gaming websites. Their domination of first page search results meant that Beawesome games were receiving a huge portion of search traffic looking for information about the HP:WU event, many of whom would naturally have an interest in other dragon-related video games. The end result? Half a million in the bank to see their project through to the end.

 

What can we learn from this?

 

It’s rare to see such a visible demonstration of the power that holding top spot on a Google search result can have on a company’s success. Controversy aside (and there’s a lot of that out there at the moment), it perfectly highlights how SEO can make all the difference in how visible your company is to the types of people most likely to have an interest in your business, project, or service. 

In this scenario, all of the elements aligned perfectly to the benefit of Beawesome Games. The right keywords, at the right time, with the inadvertent association to a huge franchise, games developer, and development studio skyrocketed interest in what many had assumed to be a niche title.

It hasn’t all been sunshine and rainbows however, as all that attention has put a spotlight on this handful of developers and their actions leading up to and following the success of their Kickstarter campaign. Is it a scam? I guess we’ll find out soon enough, Day of Dragons is due to hit Steam Early Access on November 21st.

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