Marching on

Hey everyone,

Not a lot of news, but I thought I’d share something I find interesting since starting a youtube gaming channel. So, my channel is up and running. I’m still having a lot of technical problems, which has been really frustrating. But by doing it, I’ve been learning a lot about the youtube gamer community.

One of the big things I’ve learned is how influential the community is towards driving the market. I’m sure any gamer could tell you if PewDiePie plays a game, chances are, it’s going to have increased sales. But what I’ve noticed is a snowball effect. Case in point, there’s a game out called “Layers of Fear.” Horror games are great for youtube, Let’s Play style videos because viewers like to see extreme reactions from players playing them. Screaming in terror makes for great tv… er, I mean great youtube. I don’t know when the game came out, but the first video on it I saw was from 6 months ago. Possibly still in beta. There was another from 4 months ago. Probably more, but those were the only two I could find. Then PewDiePie made a video of it and suddenly there are hundreds of youtubers doing the same--all uploading their “Layers of Fear” Let’s Play videos a day or so later.

Let’s say you don’t care for PewDiePie, so you watch one of the thousands of others that more suit the style and pace you enjoy. Chances are, they’re going to cover that game because PewDiePie did, meaning he(or other big youtubers like him) still has a huge amount of power in which games are successful and which aren’t.

I want to put this another way. The video game industry is still expanding, yet big game news outlets have been contracting. G4tv didn’t last long. IGN is smaller than it was. Game journalism now is basically a collection of bloggers. That’s fine, but it’s not the big production spectacle it once was, all the more odd considering the continued growth of the market. I’ve talked in the past as to why that is--basically, gamers don’t trust the reviewers so they go to youtube to find regular gamers like them. This big production in game related programming exists and will continue growing in the e-Sports industry, but that’s another story. Otherwise, the money isn’t in game journalism anymore because the gamer crowd left them to follow youtubers.

Youtube gamers can make money uploading videos. They can drive traffic in a few different ways. Yes, they can scream, nerd rage, be funny, etc, but the personalities and character of the youtuber aside, they can review games no one else has heard of or tackle big games people care about. New games give less competition, more chance of someone searching for that game to find their video instead. This might work out for the newtuber. They can also review a big game that far more people are looking for, but obviously face more competition. In either case, every video that gets posted about a game makes discoverability a little harder for everyone else. The key here is to get your video out for a game before everyone else does to maximize your chance for views. If you get a ton of views before youtube gets saturated for that game, then you already made your money for that video and you’re on to the next. This is more important than it sounds. Getting views can lead to subscribers who will then pad your view count for all your future videos. So it’s really important to get out there first if you’re looking to grow (and who isn’t?).

I state this because this turns youtubers into game investigators. How do you know a game will be big? You can’t play every game that hits the market. For one, you can’t even know about every game that’s released. You have to look at what other people are playing, look at reviews on Steam, or possibly watch Kickstarter campaigns or Indie Dev feeds. This also has a snowball effect. If people are doing Let’s Plays of games because they want their videos out there as soon as possible because everyone else is doing it, then a game can go viral. This creates a self fulfilling prophecy. This game is awesome. I predict it will be big. So all the other youtubers start covering it hoping to get their videos in before the game becomes insanely popular, and thus in doing so, are the cause of what makes it popular. I’ve watched this happen. I remember when the developer of “Undertale” posted about the game on a Facebook group. Now tons of youtubers have covered it. Ultimately, I think this is a good thing. It turns game development into a meritocracy where talented small time developers can make an impact where they would otherwise be undiscovered.

Another fascinating aspect of the youtube gamer community is how much the indie developer community has altered how it makes games specifically to cater to youtubers. Physics based games like “Surgeon Simulator” or “Happy Wheels,” can generate tons of reactions--reactions that can be entertaining to watch. Some indie developers are no doubt making games with “how Markiplier might react to them” in mind. In either case, I find it really interesting to think that this challenges everything I thought was true about game industry PR.

In other news, we’re finishing up the last of all art assets for Elemental Lords today. Hopefully. We were hoping to be done 2 weeks ago, but oh well. Should be close to done now. We should be done implementing it all into the engine by the end of this weekend. I still need our sound guy to get back to me. I think launching the game with temp sounds stolen from World of Warcraft would be a bad idea. Otherwise, the Microsoft people have asked me to send them a demo of the game so they can play it and see if they’d like to approve it to be released on X-Box. We should be able to send that next week. I gave them a release date, but I don’t really have any idea what goes into an approval process. This is all a learning experience. While it's being approved, I'll probably go in and polish some of the art assets a little more.

I recently got contacted by Nintendo. I submitted a proposal of Elemental Lords to them too, but months ago and forgot about them. So we started the process with them too. I don’t know, but I’ll be pretty happy when the game is out in the wild and we can focus on the next big project. The Nintendo people need us to register as an LLC first. That’s not a big deal. The Sony people won’t talk to us unless we’re a corporation, so no PlayStation release in the near future. But an LLC? For Nintendo, sure. It’s a couple hundred dollars and a ton of yearly paperwork, but hopefully worth it.

Ah well. Another cool thing about my gaming channel set up, I have a green screen and the game capture gear to make better Stigma Games promotional videos. Maybe I’ll start doing more video updates. k, back to finishing modeling the arena floor for EL.

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