How Important Are YouTube Game Videos To Game Companies?

from the really-freaking-important dept

While it hasn’t been a crescendo, there’s been some noise recently about how accepting video game publishers and related industries are in allowing YouTube videos that feature their content. Granted, most publishers seem perfectly fine in allowing such videos, but there have been reports of take down notices going out as well. Of course, there was also a recent dust up between let’s-play-ers and Nintendo, which opted into YouTube’s ContentID platform. With all of the resulting hand-wringing over who is greedy, who is a thief, and whether all of this is heavy handed, the question that hasn’t really been asked is: are YouTube videos of this nature good for gaming companies?

To answer that question, Google recently did a study dissecting how gamers use YouTube. The results, summarized by Kotaku, indicate that game publishers might not want to slaughter this cash cow. Some of the results are mildly impressive, such as the revelation that 95% of gamers watch YouTube videos about games. More interesting findings are that a full 47% of game videos were let’s-play videos, while 50% of views were of videos released directly by the publishers. However, the most important bits are these two:

  • The most popular clips on YouTube aren’t announcement trailers; they’re reviews.
  • A staggering 1 in 3 views for gaming clips took place on a mobile device, Google hypothesizing that much of these were “second screen” views, done while gaming on a TV or PC for things like FAQs.

In other words, YouTube videos play two key roles for gamers. First, they are used to help potential customers decide whether to buy or not. Intuitive, yes, but consider what would happen if publishers insisted on the removal of these reviews and let’s-plays. No videos and lost customers, because gamers would flock instead to those games that did have those videos available. Second, gamers use YouTube videos as tools once they’ve bought the game. This is the classic case of someone else making use of your content in a way that makes your content instantly more valuable. Were I to present the average gamer with two choices, first being a game in which you could find help on YouTube if you get stuck, and second, a game in which you could not find such help, I think it’s pretty clear which route most gamers would go, everything else being equal.

The lesson here is less that YouTube game videos are awesome (though they are) and more about how important it is for content creators to just let go. Not only are these gaming videos not doing you any harm, they’re helping you in ways you may not have considered.

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Comments on “How Important Are YouTube Game Videos To Game Companies?”

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Akari Mizunashi (profile) says:

I find most videos are taken down because reviews will often times have music unassociated with the game and the ContentID flags it as a violation.

For the rest, I don’t doubt some publishers send TD notices, but even they have to acknowledge how futile this is.

And there are game previews on the site? Huh. Since I’m on XBL, I generally don’t have a choice to bypass the “We paid to be in this large center box” ad.

Not that I’m complaining but it sure does explain why previews get less views on the site.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I find most videos are taken down because reviews will often times have music unassociated with the game and the ContentID flags it as a violation.

Just lost my account on Youtube for 10 to 14 days during my appeal (while they post ads making money off something they say is infringing). Evergreen Media Associates say my Battlefield 2 AIX Mod video of me flying an A10 Warthog while the Goo Goo Dolls cover of Give A Little Bit by Supertramp played in the background was infringing. It was a cover song and it wasn’t the whole song. Other vids they let slide saying it was infringing, but they were going to play ads on the video. GooTube is hypocritical in my opinion.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: I find most videos are taken down because reviews will often times have music unassociated with the game and the ContentID flags it as a violation.

My best advice to anyone who uploads these kinds of videos: Leave the music off

It’s because content ID is so inaccurate so much of the time that if it doesn’t flag your music as being infringing on one thing, it will for another.

And furthermore, video game videos with music dubbed over them are shit. You’re ruining otherwise perfectly good game audio to dub music over it. So many videos that may have been good have been ruined by some jerk deciding that “Let the bodies hit the floor” playing in a loop through the whole video was somehow appropriate to digging a hole in Minecraft.

You’re only robbing yourself by dubbing music over video game footage.

Rekrul says:

Re: Re: I find most videos are taken down because reviews will often times have music unassociated with the game and the ContentID flags it as a violation.

If I’m watching a video of gameplay, I want to hear what the game sounds like.

Do you mute the game audio while you’re playing it and just listen to music? Then why would you do it for a video?

Tim Griffiths (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I watch a lot of stuff on youtube, it my main source of video based viewing. A lot of that is game related, news, reviews, let’s plays/look ats and over the last few years there are very few games that I’ve brought were my decision to buy hasn’t been influenced in some way by these shows. It’s like I spend more on products I may not have otherwise bought as a result.

The only reason publishers might want to kill this is if they are putting out bad games because there is now such a breadth of access to larges amounts of game play with large amounts of commentary that bad games have nowhere to hide. In a way it’s a lot like how in the music industry it’s really hard to get away with filler tracks these days.

It just comes down to one simple thing… produce quality content. But that actually takes effort and aptitude.

Anonymous Coward says:

Lego Mindstorm

I still don’t know why TD has never really latched onto that what happened between Lego and the first hackers of mindstorm. How it became such a massive success.

When Lego first put out the Mindstorm, a lot of people decided to see what they could do with them, they started to hack them.
This upset Lego greatly, as they wanted to be the ones doing things with Mindstorms and protect their investment.


What they did was really great and I wonder why Masnick and TD do not use it as a shinning example.

First they went after the hackers and tried to shut them down, but Lego eventually worked out these ‘hackers’ were doing some really great things with the mindstorm, and Lego with great wisdom decided instead of fighting them, they would SUPPORT THEM, and get them to invent new and great ways to use the Mindstorm. The result being massive success for Mindstorm and for Lego, and for the people who wanted to push this technology to it’s limits and beyond.

It’s “lets fight them, oh but they are doing some really cool stuff, ok then, lets HELP THEM, and get them to do really cool stuff for us, WITH OUT PRODUCTS”.

As for video’s of games, watching a vid of a game is not the same as playing the game, but it sure does make you want to try them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Lego Mindstorm

I was expecting Mike to do his own investigate reporting, he’s the ‘reporter’ after all, I’m simply the ‘tipster”.

What someone needs to do is download the episode of “Mega Factories” the only on the Lego company. (by numbers, the largest tyre manufacturer in the world).

In that show they have one of their executives talking about the Mindstorm product and how there were first ‘worried’ about them being hacked and ‘unlocked’, until they saw what the people were doing, and then he talks how they embraced the hackers (fans) and all parties profited from it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Lego Mindstorm

“Let’s fight them” shouldn’t be the default action. “Let’s fight them” shouldn’t be what the company reaches for when they decide to deal with their community.

Fighting your community because they’re using your product should be grounds for a boycott, not a worshipping. If their first reaction to learning that people are enjoying their product is to get out the lawyers and truncheons, they should be avoided at all costs.

If they see the dollar signs and realize that there is profit to be exploited later on is irrelevant. At the core they hate you and what you are doing with their product and don’t deserve your time or money.

For other examples of this, see Xbox One.

Ed C. says:

Youtube, and video reviews in general, are invaluable to gamers. Sure, watching a video made from someone else playing the game isn’t the same as actually playing, but all other forms of media simply fail to adequately capture much of the game experience at all. For the game companies, however, video reviews are a double-edged sword. They can catapult a good game to great success, but can bury a bad one as well. And that is what I think scares game companies, especially publishers, publicity they don’t control. They can cherrypick the best parts for their own promos, and exert varying levels of control over other 3rd party promos and reviews, but some independent reviewers like those on youtube are outside of their control. They can, of course, issue a bogus DMCA notice, but editorials and reviews are almost certainly fair use.

Of course, the only real reason to take down videos is if the game sucks and they don’t want people to see just how bad it is. Taking down videos for a good game just makes no sense. Since many gamers come to rely on video reviews, games without them can get passed over. If a game sits on a shelf, virtual or otherwise, and there’s no video reviews, is it any good? Know knows.

OTOH, I find video walkthroughs to be almost useless. Text walkthroughs and FAQs are usually organized fairly well, making it easy to find the part were I’m stuck. I can even search for a specific term to find where it appears in the text. Video walkthroughs, however, usually have no organization whatsoever. Where’s the part with the mystic temple on the 6th level? Video 6/12 or 9/12? Who knows, there’s usually no section or level index. So, just pick one. Oh right, there’s 15 to 30 minutes of video to sludge through, clicking forward on the timeline to skip ahead to the relevant part. Oh damn, that’s not the right video, try again. Nope, that’s not the right one, and it just spoiled the ending of the next level too! Maybe the one before? Nope, still haven’t been there yet, that must be after the mystic temple. OK, one more time… Geez, I would have found it already and been back in the game if this was in text!

Now, in an alternate universe that had a text walkthrough… OK, there’s Level 6…mystic temple. Search for “blue gem”. Oh, it was on the ledge in that room down the hall. :faceplam: Why didn’t I think to jump up there!

If you didn’t know why video walkthroughs suck, now you do.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I find Video Walkthroughs okay, I find Let’s Plays in general to be useless (but I think they are well deserved protection)

If I need help with a game or want to get the gist of the game. Nothing tells me more about it than watching a few minutes of footage. Playthroughs are invaluable in that regard.

What I don’t need is some fat nerd heaving into a microphone telling me about every fucking problem going on in his life and making “funny reactions” every time something happens in the game.

ha. ha. a skeleton popped out, this caused you to scream and throw a fit like a two-year old. then you made a fart joke. Nice job PewDeeShit.

Mike Brown (profile) says:

“As for video’s of games, watching a vid of a game is not the same as playing the game, but it sure does make you want to try them.”

Exactly. People post their gameplay because they LIKE THE GAME, and they want to show off the cool things they can do. How can anyone see this as anything other than free advertising? I bought Guild Wars 2 based on an Angry Joe video that I bumped into completely by accident. He was so positive about it, I bought it right away.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’ve been burned so many times by poorly made games I will no longer buy one untried.

You can’t trust game reviews as they have all been leaned on by the companies that release early editions for the game review magazines to use for their reviewing purposes. Only if they give anything less than a sterling plus report, they are removed from the early review releases list.

Seeing a game played is not actually playing the game but it does give an idea of graphics and sound and that’s about it.

These gaming houses have already killed the review magazines cause you can’t trust them to give an honest opinion on it. Killing the videos will do them more damage as many are now using this in place of reviews.

Eponymous Coward says:

Let me dumb it down to the simplest expression...

Games are meant to be FUN!!!*

1) By allowing people to post up their Lets-Play videos you allow a culture of FUN to further cultivate around your product! Let’s be honest here, the most successful Lets-Play Youtubers are especially funny in their commentary and reactions to the game. So many people who are watching aren’t there just to see the game’s narrative unfold, but for the broader, or “derivative”, fun of the whole experience

2) The stronger this culture is (in theory) the more FUN it will also be. Therefore you create a culture that attracts people making them want to participate in the FUN. This cycle of FUN only helps to further raise the value of the whole culture, and the products targeting that culture.

3) Control, and the attempts to exert it, on the other hand is not FUN. It isn’t FUN for the company; and it definitely isn’t FUN for your fans who want to support you, but can’t for you make it hard and not FUN. Thus, since your fans become bored and unengaged they move on to something else that’s FUN and they can become passionate about. When it comes to the game of control “the only winning move is not to play.”

*) We come to the unique point in a robust culture where actually not all games have to be FUN. Some can be challenging, or heartbreaking, or a commentary on our culture either gaming culture or the broader society. I feel that you need a stable and robust culture to be established before you get to this point where we can have games like the Last of Us. Games that explore the medium for more than just having FUN, making them into works of art. Again though, the attempt at trying to control the medium and your products in it jeopardizes this emerging culture and ruins the FUN.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

I use YouTube reviews and LPs

I, for one, have purchased games I otherwise wouldn’t have based on an online let’s look at which is more-or-less a review. I avoid non-play-based reviews since they’ve all become public relations in the Orwellian sense.

I’ve also chosen not to purchase games because the company involved has been a real asshat. Sega’s policies regarding infringement enforcement have driven me to avoid their titles altogether. Granted, the fact that Aliens: Colonial Marines turned out to be a total dud certainly eased the blow of having resigned myself to not playing it.

Thank you for the heads up, jupiterkansas

PaulT (profile) says:

“The most popular clips on YouTube aren’t announcement trailers; they’re reviews.”

Maybe that’s one of their problems? Their flashy trailers and often unrepresentative images are undermined when people are able to simply show/tell how crappy the game is (e.g. Aliens: Colonial Marines). They’d rather obfuscate the crappiness of their product than ensure it’s not crappy to begin with…

“done while gaming on a TV or PC for things like FAQs”

Bingo. If you’re stuck in a game, especially one that depends on split-second tactics or three dimensional puzzles that are hard to describe accurately in words, nothing beats seeing someone else get past a sequence you’re stuck on. Sometimes, they mean the difference between beating a game and giving up totally.

Most people are more likely to buy a sequel or DLC for a game they’ve managed to complete rather than one they got hopelessly stuck on, so it’s hard to imagine how removing such content could have anything other than a negative impact on future sales.

Anonymous Coward says:

if this service is doing good for any company, it will be stopped! let’s face it, as it wasn’t thought of by some high flyin’, over paid, senseless idiot, it cant be any good, can it!! it will be the old story, anyone posting a bit of a game for whatever reason, hasn’t gotten permission, so a take down will be issued and Google will do as it’s told, just like it always does, to please any of the entertainment industries, without even questioning the validity of the ‘request’

Rekrul says:

Probably 99% of the game trailers/teasers on the net consist of about 90% cutscenes/FMVs and 10% gameplay. That doesn’t tell you much about what playing the game is like.

Of course, in today’s world, most games are 90% FMVs and 10% gameplay. And even the 10% gameplay is designed for idiots. “Press “X” to open door”, “Press “O” to grab onto ladder”, etc.

GMacGuffin says:

This article alerted me to the fact that I spend undue amounts of time watching gaming vids. Seeing that Google’s study was for the 18-54 US demographic, it seems we’ve reached a point where it’s not embarrassing for, say, a 48-year-old lawyer to learn how to build cool Minecraft stuff from 10-year-old Europeans. Whew.

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