Deus Ex Interactive Twitch Campaign
A groundbreaking live action interactive Twitch broadcast seen by millions of users over 72 hours, announced Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.
Eidos-Montréal, Goldtooth and Work at Play partnered to conceive, design, and build the interactive Twitch announcement campaign for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. The campaign, titled Can’t Kill Progress, took the form of a three-day live stream where fans interacted with and affected a live action drama unfolding right before their eyes on Twitch.
Short timeline: big impact Break through the monotony of traditional game reveals and create a worldwide buzz for the games announcement trailer, logo and title reveal.
Timeline: < 3 months
Fans have been told to join Square Enix on Twitch for a three day long interactive event from one of their western studios. Which of their western studios? We have no idea. The only clue we have been given is that the game carries the working title "Project CKP".
What we did
Choice and consequence is a key thematic element of Deus Ex. Eidos-Montréal wanted that ethos reflected in the campaign. Twitch’s interactive platform and avid gamer audience made it the ideal choice to deliver that experience to fans.
We chose to stream over the Square Enix channel rather than Eidos to obscure which game title the stream could be referencing in order to keep fans guessing and exploring clues.
Two days before the stream commenced, we contacted a small group of game bloggers and media outlets that Square Enix will be streaming an “Interactive Reveal” on its Twich channel on April 6, 2015. Along with our Twitter and Facebook posts word quickly spread across the Internet and Can't Kill Progress Twitch Project #ProjectCKP was trending.
Rather than just sharing a trailer or a photo of the title, like other studios might, the folks at Square Enix will unveil their game via a three-day long "interactive experience" that starts Monday, April 6th on Twitch. Based on the hints provided, we predict that the game will belong to one of three series: Sleeping Dogs, Hitman, or Deus Ex.
Threads on Reddit, NeoGAF and 4chan have gone into much greater detail digging into the minutiae of the ARG.
As the drama unfolded viewers debated what game this could be referencing, calling out clues they found in the video stream. Was it a new Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy, Hitman, Sleeping Dogs, or DeusEx?
The stream included a heads up display (HUD) with what appeared to be random graphics and codes referencing cameras. Eager fans quickly began trying to figure out how these cameras could be controlled with codes inside the Twitch channel. Once controlled fans could change camera views on the stream to get a different visual perspective and discover additional clues.
Twice a day the story was punctuated by big key moments where viewers had to vote on a choice. From the apparent mundane, but in reality consequential choice like, “do you (Ivan) like classical or country music” to the pivotal Resist or Collaborate. The fan debates on the choices were heated, as the voting window was only 5 minutes. The HUD would indicate which choice was winning and fans would frantically plead the case for their choice. These choices branched the story in whatever direction the fans chose.
Between the key votes, the HUD would display cryptic codes without explanation. Knowing the behaviors and motivation of our fans, we knew they would leave no stone unturned to decipher these codes. Fans quickly created public Google docs to collaborate on solving these ciphers, which got progressively harder as the drama progressed. Solving the cipher would provide links to videos hidden on Instagram that gave further hints and color to the world they were witnessing.
"Project CKP" doesn’t ring any bells, but a cursory search online provides a couple of possible results. There’s a banking company called "CKP Project Services Limited" found via LinkedIn, a Campus Kitchens Project at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and something called The Community Knowledge Project that appears to be based in southern California.
Interactive Story Arc
For the Can't Kill Progress Twitch Project, Eidos-Montréal asked us to introduce the world of their new game in an impactful and original way. While the previous game, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, was set in a hopeful future going through a "cyber renaissance," the new installment, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, takes place in a dark, dystopian world where augmented people are being persecuted in a "mechanical apartheid." The narrative was built to reveal the culture of fear in the Mankind Divided universe as well as the rift between “pure humans” and augmented humans.
We set all the scenes in a single location, where we could install security and surveillance cameras for the three-day experience. This location was an interrogation holding area deep in the bowels of the futuristic Prague police department. The main subject, Ivan, is a suspected augmented terrorist. Over the three days, our goal was to create factions in the viewership who would be arguing over key plot points: Ivan's innocence vs his guilt, freedom fighter vs. terrorist, police state vs. free society, progress vs. status quo. This binary structure in the narrative helped support the interactive element of the Twitch experience: the key moments that allowed the viewers to vote on the outcome of important scenes.
Square Enix has a new game it wants to tell everyone about, but it's not willing to settle for just sending out a press release or trailer. Instead, the publisher is running a bizarre, multi-day Twitch event that's unlike anything we've ever seen before.
Within the first 30 minutes of launch: 20,000 simultaneous viewers. Within 48 hours the #CantKillProgress channel acquired more Twitch followers than any other “AAA competitors” had managed in the lifetime of their channels.
Within 72 hours the #CantKillProgress channel garnered more than 1.7 million views from more than 1 million unique users.