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.