On YouTube, six of the top 10 broadcasters are game broadcasters. And YouTube Gaming was out in full force this week to cover the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), the big game trade show in Los Angeles this week.
The live broadcasts included nine hours of live programming by game media star Geoff Keighley, who had 75 people helping him pull his show together. YouTube also aired a lot of live programming from GameSpot, IGN, Giant Bomb, and Rooster Teeth. One of the people who made it all happen was Ryan Wyatt, the head of gaming content at YouTube, as part of an effort to make YouTube the destination for all things gaming.
YouTube has to compete with rivals such as Amazon’s Twitch and Facebook. And a big way to do that is to connect with all of the major influencers who are followed by gamers. We talked to Wyatt about this new age of influence at E3.
Here’s an edited transcript of our conversation. (We’re also holding our own events on mobile game influencers in New York and Seattle next week.)
GamesBeat: It’s been an interesting show. Hideo Kojima had an awesome demo that I think nobody understood.
Ryan Wyatt: It was a very Hideo-like demo. It left you thinking.
GamesBeat: But I’m sure it’s good to have people talking about it on YouTube.
Wyatt: Oh, it’s great. I was really happy. We had GameSpot and IGN and Giant Bomb and Rooster Teeth and Geoff Keighley all doing well-produced streams, which is unique for us. It set us apart from anybody else, that we were able to do that. They all did well. They all seem happy. And they’re not done yet. That was just day one. IGN is still streaming all through Thursday, and so is GameSpot.
It’s funny how E3 has shifted in this direction. You can watch and get a lot of different viewpoints from all these different people. Looking back five or six years, it was just Geoff’s viewpoint. Now a lot of different creators are going out there and talking about the show.
GamesBeat: What do you think of going to press conferences versus watching them?
Wyatt: Working in the game industry for a while, I’ve become a little jaded about going to the press conferences. When I got home and was able to catch Bethesda live on Sunday when I flew in, that was awesome. We have the DVR feature, so I could scrub back to the beginning of the stream and watch it. It’s charming to be here. I’m fortunate and grateful to be able to come here. But it’s different when you work it compared to when you’re at home kicking back and watching. Working in the industry, I’d rather be at home watching it in peace, to be honest.
At PlayStation last night, though, I was like a little kid. I was in the very front row. It’s probably the most enjoyable conference for me in years. Last year’s Nintendo conference, too, with the championships and the Splatoon tournament. But Sony was a unique experience, just being able to sit back and enjoy it.
GamesBeat: How do you pull something quantitative out of all this? Can you tell who had the best showing on social media?
Wyatt: We’ll do a data analysis at the end of the week and look it over. I’m interested to see how our big partners and creators did with E3 collectively. The quantitative part that will interest me—you take Gamespot, IGN, Rooster Teeth, Giant Bomb, and Geoff’s shows, look at how they did with live watch time and VOD watch time, and take a snapshot of how we did out of E3 consumption.
But really, to be honest, I don’t think about it like that. You want to empower your creators and have them be happy. They all did well on our platform. They were simulcasting on different platforms. They did substantially better on YouTube. That’s our biggest win. They’re happy and we’re happy. As a platform, it’s the only way you can look at it.
The trailer battle is going to be awesome as well. Trailer battles is a decisive judgment. That’ll run through this week. That’s a pretty conclusive way to see who “won.”
GamesBeat: Geoff Keighley told me that he had something like 75 people helping him out with making that happen.
Wyatt: Yeah, it takes a village. That’s a highly produced—you think about all the special guests and exclusives, running a nine-hour show, running that production. He’s a seasoned vet. He’s been doing this 20-some years now. It takes a village behind the scenes to get it all done. They did an excellent job in their second year. Last year was the first time we brought it to YouTube.
We couldn’t be happier with that partnership. Great sponsorships like Samsung came in. E3 needed a highly produced hub for content, right? Something to make sure that the show lives on and the viewers at home get the best experience.
GamesBeat: What do you think about all the other influencers out there these days and how powerful they’re becoming? There’s this whole layer of people underneath the big influencers.
Wyatt: YouTube stars have a lot of pull now. Geoff is kind of out of the old school. I grew up and saw him on G4. Now we have the new school of influencers, stars in their own right. Six out of the top 10 YouTubers are gamers.
We incorporated them into the show this year. That’s different from last year. One thing we wanted to do, reflecting on last year—we felt we weren’t getting enough representation from our top creators that make the gaming ecosystem. We partnered them with Geoff, all kinds of great creators and influencers that came on to the show. We were able to marry the two. I feel like we had the right beat there, bringing the wave of YouTube digital creators together with traditional media veterans.
GamesBeat: People are making a real living this way now. It’s paying off as a career.
Wyatt: Absolutely. And more than just a career. Gamers are out there buying houses and cars, paying college tuition. Anybody can go on and start making game content today and earn money without a contract. That’s an important part of our culture, that we continue to empower people to do that.
They’re celebrities now. I wouldn’t even call it making a career out of gaming. They’re superstars. They’re commanding paychecks for everything they do and drawing huge audiences. It’s been incredible to watch that evolve over the years.
GamesBeat: Do you have any recommendation for how small game developers can come to realize who these influencers are for their kinds of games? How do they find the right people?
Wyatt: Because gaming is such a big vertical on YouTube—there’s a wide variety of gaming creators. We want to work with more indie studios in general. We want to sculpt their content strategy on YouTube and help them partner up. You want these developers to find people who authentically and genuinely enjoy their games. Then they become influencers and ambassadors for those games.
You look at when Minecraft was an indie. Creators loved the game and that’s why they made content. Other people saw that and started creating themselves. You need to find a couple of people who genuinely like it and want an opportunity to work closely with a developer, the chance to play a game and post content early. There’s a huge opportunity to get free marketing through a content strategy on YouTube. Making sure they realize that and see that opportunity is something we want to work on, helping to bridge the gap with creators.
You look at the top 10 games on YouTube, a couple of them are indies — Five Nights at Freddy’s, Minecraft. There are great opportunities for indie studios to blow up through a YouTube strategy.
GamesBeat: Are you seeing more people become influential in the mobile space?
Wyatt: We are. The rise of mobile gameplay creators—since our last conversation, the thing that’s really starting to take off is Clash Royale. Clash of Clans and Clash Royale are the two mobile games in the top 10 games on YouTube. Now we’re starting to see mobile gameplay creators making a living, six figures, based solely on mobile gameplay content. We have a big focus on expanding mobile gameplay, because we think there’s a big opportunity there.
With gaming being so big on YouTube, you have to cover a broad audience. You have console, hardcore PC, live streaming, esports, original content. Mobile is part of that. 360 video is going to scale with the growth of VR. 360 video and mobile gameplay are our areas of biggest opportunity right now. We’re focused on that.