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If we readily 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 today an important relay for the visibility of independent developers, but not only. Even the biggest boxes 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, team leader at Glofox studio, which develops the canine adventure game Farewell North. “This day was the sixth highest traffic in the history of our page”. Like many independent developers, the creative did not hesitate to identify the Twitter account “Can You Pet The Dog ?”(Literally,“ Can you stroke the dog? ”) When discussing his project on the famous social network. A corner of the web which currently brings together nearly 500,000 subscribers in almost two years of existence.

Story that has a dog

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

The dogs of The Division 2

For Tristan Cooper, a 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 browsing the city of Washington online. . But where it is impossible to stroke the dogs. “The game deliberately puts these animals in a bad situation, in an effort to build empathy in the player” explains the account owner to the British media The Guardian. “But there is no way to comfort or care for these starving and 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. twitter account and even to their conference live. But also by the unwavering love of the Internet for dogs, as illustrated by the famous even of the Doge which features a shiba.

I think the popularity of the page is a testament to players’ desire 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, so it’s good to relieve that pressure with something pure and frivolous – Tristan Cooper, creator of Can You Pet The Dog, in the columns of The Next Web

Melting bowl

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

Couverture de Can You Pet The Dog

At the rate of two publications per day on average, Tristan Cooper draws up a list of all the games where it is possible to pet dogs, whether it be big productions (Watch Dogs 2), double-A (Until Dawn) or indie projects from indie, unknown to the general public (Street Cleaner, The Outbound Ghost, etc). During his “casual friday”, 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.

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 the games, and in particular of the 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 platform sale of the project.

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 that can be petted in a game, big or small, I would like to make a post about it. – Tristan Cooper, creator of Can You Pet The Dog, whom we interviewed

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

Humble Bundle Can You Pet The Dog

The man claims to have no partnership or advertising contract, even if it happens to him to receive titles in advance to be able to speak about it: if all the games do not have the right to a second post, Tristan Cooper puts it on the back of the forgetfulness or the 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 the games, several developers have mentioned a boost in this regard. meaning. Or rather a kick of the paw.

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

Paw kick to indies

Among these developers, it is not only Kyle Banks and his game Farewell North, mentioned at the beginning of this article. There is also the 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 brings together a little over 480 subscribers. 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 post. We have won over 50 wishlists on our page and dozens of subscribers. For small teams, it can give a boost and generate a lot of goodwill on the part of those new to the game. – The Bravarda studio, which we interviewed

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

A papouille in Monster Reapers

Dumativa, another Brazilian team who responded to us, notes 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 from all over the world knowing our game.”. However, the media power of the page must be qualified. Virtual Uppercut, at the origin 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 worked on the mechanics to pet 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 posted to Tristan Cooper’s account. But the luck of being there encouraged us to put this step earlier in 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. Studio Bravarda has also had a story similar to 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 done via a caress. In the end, our choice is explained by a combination of two elements: on one side, the page was there, and on the other, we were in the process of prototyping a mechanism that could fit into all of this. – The Bravarda studio, which we interviewed

Can You Pet The Internet

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

Enter The Gungeon

On a case-by-case basis, however, it would be very unwise to state 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 getting started. In August 2020, a video posted by Bethesda promoting Ghostwire Tokyo left little room for doubt. In this one, the famous Shinji Mikami explains to have a very important announcement for the game: the possibility of petting dogs. The post editor Bethesda is also pretty clear. The latter uses 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 world of video games.

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