The lights are on
YouTube has issued its first white paper (a document designed to help constituents understand a particular issue), titled
"Gamers on Youtube: Evolving Video Consumption," and the subject is near and dear to our hearts. Google's ubiquitous video branch has quantified the impact of video games, and the statistics evidence significant growth in comparison to other content hosted by the service.
The thesis of Google's study is that video continues to grow as the meeting place between publishers and consumers. In 2012, views of game-related content doubled year-over-year, which was a faster expansion rate than YouTube's overall growth percentage in the United States.
Another key statistic reveals that as time goes on in a product life cycle, views transition from desktop before launch (teasers, trailers, developer walkthroughs) to mobile and tablet post-release (tips, "let's plays", achievement guides). More importantly for publishers, once the community gets its hands on a game, it generates almost as much traffic post-launch as the publisher drummed up pre-release.
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You can view the entire white paper on Think with Google. If you want to see some of our contributions to the YouTube gaming conversation, be sure to visit our channel.
Our TakeIt shouldn't come as a surprise that video is increasingly important to video game enthusiasts. In addition to YouTube's own growth in the sector, Twitch.tv has become an enormous success. Competitive gaming has taken off, attracting huge viewership across video outlets.
There are some elements of the white paper that can be dismissed as unsurprising. For instance, pre-launch views correlate to post-release sales. Awareness is often a leading indicator of sales performance, and high viewership clearly indicates consumer interest.
As I read the white paper, one statistic stood out. The community is responsible for nearly half of the views, clearly extending awareness and word-of-mouth long after a publisher's own PR and marketing plan has run its course. This correlates directly to Nintendo's decision this year to prevent "LPers" (those that make Let's Play videos) from monetizing their content and Ubisoft's declaration last week that it wouldn't intercede. My hope is that Nintendo will see this and change its mind, returning an incentive to those that wish to help promote its products.
The document also answers a question I've been getting frequently about the emphasis of second-screen experiences at E3 this year. Given the growing number of mobile and tablet views (one-third of all gaming views on YouTube and double in 2012 what it was in 2011), publishers are trying to capitalize on the trend.
One interpretation of the data is that people are using the closest device (a phone or tablet) to access tip videos while playing. Either that, or more of us are watching gaming while in the bathroom than ever before. Publishers are banking on the former.
Find out more about "Our Take" here.
Email the author Mike Futter, or follow on Google+, Twitter, and Game Informer.