Can You Pet The Dog: The cute account turned marketing tool

Can You Pet The Dog: The cute account turned marketing tool
If it is easy to admit that the dog is man's best friend, well it is in the real world as in the virtual world. For about two years, the Twitter account “Can You Pet The Dog?” make a list of games where you can make canine papouilles. More than a showcase of cute interactions, it is now an important relay for the visibility of independent developers, but not only. Even the biggest clubs are interested.

“The day Can You Pet The Dog spoke about us, I noticed a big increase in traffic on our Steam” says Kyle Banks, head of team at Glofox studio, which is developing the dog adventure game Farewell North. "Today was the sixth highest traffic in our page history." Like many independent developers, the creator did not hesitate to identify the Twitter account "Can You Pet The Dog?" (Literally, "Can you pet the dog?") When discussing his project on the famous network social. A corner of the web which currently has nearly 500,000 subscribers in almost two years of existence.

A tale that has a dog

The dogs of The Division 2 For Tristan Cooper, young American based in New York today behind the Can You Pet The Dog page, it all started with The Division 2, Ubisoft's multiplayer TPS where players can have fun roaming the city of Washington online. But where it is impossible to stroke the dogs. "The game deliberately puts these animals in a bad situation, with the aim of arousing the empathy of the player" explains the owner of the account to the British media The Guardian. “But there is no way to comfort or care for these starving, frightened creatures.” Worse, the only way to interact with the canines in the title is by shooting them.

So this is where it all started for Can You Pet The Dog, and success quickly began. In one month, Tristan Cooper's page is followed by more than 160,000 people according to The Next Web. A phenomenon that can be explained by the interest of a whole section of the players for cute experiences and interactions, as shown by the recent popularity of "wholesome games" ("healthy games") which have the right to their own account Twitter and even their live conference. But also by the Internet's unwavering love for dogs, as illustrated by the famous Doge meme featuring a shiba.

I think the The popularity of the page is testament to the desire of players to engage in meaningless and feel-good interactions that don't necessarily advance the plot or grant experience points. Modern games demand a lot from the player, c so it's good to relieve that pressure with something pure and frivolous - Tristan Cooper, creator of Can You Pet The Dog, in The Next Web columns

Melting bowl

Cover of Can You Pet The Dog At the rate of two publications per day in average, Tristan Cooper makes a list of all the games where it is possible to pet dogs, whether they are big productions (Watch Dogs 2), double-A (Until Dawn) or indie projects from home. indies, unknown to the general public (Street Cleaner, The Outbound Ghost, etc.). During his “casual friday”, the man also allows himself to wander outside the canine gente, where other animals cuddled by the players are honored, as in the recent Immortal Fenyx Rising and Haven. br>
Whatever the animal, the creator of Can You Pet The Dog admits to having a preference for the most modest projects: “I hope that my account contributes to the visibility of games, and in particular of independents "He explains by email. With this in mind, Tristan Cooper sometimes posts two messages about the same game, one after the other, to highlight the project's sales platform.

There are just more indie games than big budget games, so I end up emphasizing the indie side of things. In almost all cases, if there is a dog out there. 'it is possible to stroke in a game, big or small, I would like to make a post about it - Tristan Cooper, creator of Can You Pet The Dog, that we have interviewed

Humble Bundle Can You Pet The Dog The man claims to have no partnership or advertising contract, even if he happens to receive titles in advance to be able to talk about it: if all the games do not have the right to a second post, Tristan Cooper puts it on the back of forgetfulness or lack of time. The question arises in all cases, because even if there is no measurable effect of the impact of Can You Pet The Dog on the visibility of games, several developers have told us about a boost in this regard. meaning. Or rather a paw.

Can You Pet The Dog VR - A game to pet dogs in virtual reality

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Paw indies

Among these developers, it is not only Kyle Banks and his game Farewell North, mentioned at the beginning of this article. There's also Brazilian studio Bravarda, at work on Terra Pulse, a metroidvania seen from above in the ruins of Rio de Janeiro. The team’s Twitter account has just over 480 followers. On Tristan Cooper's page, there are a thousand times more, so as much to say that it helped:

The tweet (relayed by Can You Pet The Dog, editor's note) is our most successful publication. We have won over 50 wishlists on our page and dozens of subscribers. For small teams, this can give a boost and generate a lot of goodwill on the part of those new to the game - Bravarda Studio, which we interviewed

A teaser in Monster Reapers Dumativa, a another Brazilian team who responded to us, noted how Can You Pet The Dog can help promote themselves abroad: "We can reach a lot of people in Brazil, but none outside. It was great to see people all over the world know our game ". However, the media power of the page must be qualified. Virtual Uppercut, the creator of Monster Reapers VR, claims that after many reactions to Tristan Cooper's post, only 20 people added the title to their wishlist, and only two bought it.

Virtual Uppercut is not disappointed with such a result, but the opposite would not have been surprising. Because the studio has been working on the mechanics of petting a dog with the Can You Pet The Dog page in mind: “Setting this option up was on our to-do list, regardless of the possibility of being released. on Tristan Cooper's account, but the chance to be there encouraged us to put this step earlier on our priority list, "says the team. Several developers have told us that the efforts required by this kind of interaction are well worth the visibility offered by Can You Pet The Dog. The Bravarda studio has also had a story similar to that of Virtual Uppercut:

We had already planned to have capybaras (a species of rodent, note) as a form of interaction in the game (.. .) Due to Can You Pet The Dog however, we decided that this interaction would be via a hug. In the end, our choice is explained by a combination of two elements: on the one hand, the page was there, and on the other, we were in the process of prototyping a mechanism that could fit into all of this - Le studio Bravarda, that we interviewed

Can You Pet The Internet

Enter The Gungeon On a case-by-case basis, it would be very unwise to say that all the games relayed by Can You Pet The Dog have integrated a dedicated mechanism with this account in mind. This is not the case with Kyle Banks on Farewell North, for example. But what is certain is that Tristan Cooper's page has entered the web culture and the minds of developers. Dan Marshall, author of the recent The Lair of the Clockwork God, for example, deliberately added a scene where his character puts several lines of dialogue before deigning to cuddle a dog. “The absurd difficulty in stroking the animal has been fully put into the game to troll Can You Pet The Dog,” he explains on Twitter. Already in September 2019, the creators of Enter The Gungeon were quick to add the option, when the account pointed out its absence.

And even the big studios are doing it. In August 2020, a video posted by Bethesda promoting Ghostwire Tokyo left little room for doubt. In it, the famous Shinji Mikami explains having a very important announcement for the game: the possibility of pet dogs. Publisher Bethesda's post is also pretty clear. The latter takes the fetish formula Tristan Cooper as a title: "Yes, you can pet the dog in Ghostwire Tokyo". A video of course shared on the account dedicated to dogs. What is certain is that yes, Can You Pet The Dog has left its mark on the video game world.

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