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The Gunk, Thunderful’s story-driven sci-fi exploration game from the team behind the SteamWorld series, was initially announced in July 2020 during the Xbox Series X Games Showcase before going quiet on the PR front to prepare for the next phase of the campaign. Plan of Attack handled communications from the campaign’s relaunch at gamescom 2021, including its release on Xbox and the Microsoft Store in December 2021, post-launch activities and the game’s Steam release in April 2022.

Securing a spot at gamescom 2021 proved to be a highly effective way of reigniting interest in The Gunk and keeping it in the minds of media and the public between the initial reveal and our later push leading up to release. The trailer generated almost 500 pieces of coverage, including top-tier outlets like IGN, Gamespot, GamesRadar+, Game Informer, Rock, Paper, Shotgun, Game Rant, VG247 and TheGamer.

As we moved into the pre-launch phase for The Gunk, we planned a campaign that ensured a steady stream of coverage in the leadup to release, kicking off with a trailer announcing the game’s release date on Xbox Game Pass in Thunderful’s own Thunderful World digital showcase, hosted by Mark Hamill, in November. This generated over 250 pieces of coverage, which again included top-tier outlets like IGN and Game Rant

We knew that the SteamWorld series and Thunderful developer Image & Form had an established reputation and leveraged that to garner interest in the game from the press. This began with securing print previews with leading outlets EDGE, PC Gamer and Game Informer based on access to exclusive video content and interviews with the developers. This coverage was timed to hit in November, following up on the trailer and release date announcement at Thunderful World.

During November and early December, we continued to build momentum for the launch of The Gunk on Xbox platforms via a number of avenues. In early December we put out a press release highlighting a story featurette trailer and successfully pitched online previews to notable online outlets and influencers, primarily focusing on video content. This included IGN posting a “First 15 Minutes” preview video, shared by scores of other outlets, as well as content from the likes of GamingBolt and HCL.

The interest built for The Gunk during the campaign meant we were able to secure a large number of reviews. Over 260 outlets reviewed the game, including IGN, GamesRadar+, Easy Allies, Game Informer, GameSpot and Destructoid. The game received strong reviews from some key outlets, getting positive reviews from Eurogamer, Rock, Paper, Shotgun, GamingBolt, and PC Invasion.

We also undertook extensive outreach with influencers, coordinating video and streaming content to go live on launch day. This included content posted by VEGETTA777 (32.9M subs), alexelcapo (1.8M subs), Ray Navarez Jr (570k followers) G4TV (492k subs) and Alanah Pierce (579k subs). Between the review and influencer content, The Gunk was highly prominent across gaming media, YouTube and Twitch on release day.

The campaign continued post-launch, leading into a Steam release in April 2022. This resulted in Digital Foundry posting a Tech Review for Xbox Series X|S and a “Why I Love” from Image & Form’s game director Ulf Hartelius going live on Press releases announcing the Steam release, the addition of a photo mode, an accolades trailer for the game and a Rock Paper Shotgun developer interview timed to go live with the Steam release helped to generate around 250 pieces of coverage for the game in the lead up to the Steam launch. This was a good way of raising the games profile in a context where it wasn’t possible to secure a significant number of reviews for the Steam release, given that most outlets had already reviewed the game in December.

Thunderful and ourselves were very pleased with the amount of coverage we were able to generate for The Gunk, both from traditional media and influencers. Throughout the course of the campaign, we were able to ensure top-tier online and print outlets were covering the title in a mixture of news and preview content. We sustained this into a strong review and influencer campaign that saw coverage from leading gaming media and high-profile YouTubers and Twitch streamers.