YouTube popularity has brought success to certain games. A gaming-focused YouTube video with more than a million hits will unquestionably have an impact on sales of the featured title.
Take Minecraft, a vastly popular indie offering with an exponentially growing community since the day that its first playthrough was uploaded onto YouTube. Once Internet-famous fans got a hold of the game, creating imaginative storylines and unfathomable structures, sales went through the roof.
At this point, you’re probably wondering about the specifics of a YouTube playthrough. Well, to start, a playthrough is quite literally recorded footage of a game with (usually quite humorous) commentary. The brilliance of this is that anyone can do it. All you need is a microphone and some means of recording your play.
In some ways, such accessibility is a double-edged sword. If you go to YouTube and search for “Minecraft,” about 5.5 million results will pop up. The saturation on YouTube of terrible amateur videos is mind boggling. This creates an environment where many good video makers are not being noticed due to being lost in a search.
Another YouTube success story centers on DayZ, the now immensely popular zombie-survival mod based in the world of ARMA II. The mod took YouTube and Steam by storm. Within a week, ARMA II rocketed to the number-one-top-seller spot on Steam. No advertisement was used to achieve this. Nothing. Its exposure came through YouTube — particularly playthroughs of the game. These videos were getting six-figure hits within days, resulting in the huge sales boost seen on both Steam and Amazon.
Minecraft and DayZ took the spotlight due to YouTube being such a powerful medium. Publicity for these games came in the form of dramatic stories, intricate and beautiful creations, and good old-fashioned laughter. I myself have been exposed to many different releases through YouTube — many that don’t get a great amount of attention — because I subscribe to channels that create great content with them.
This movement is being noticed within the industry. Renowned and popular commentators are given early access to games and betas for the purpose of exposing them to vast subscriber bases. YouTube is, and will be, a new and upcoming medium for game marketing — especially for indie releases that lack funding for excessive ad campaigns. This can only be a positive move for the industry and help video games become a more accessible form of entertainment.