When it comes to gaming content on YouTube, brands certainly do have their place amongst the many Let’s Players that populate the platform. The former’s time to shine comes during the pre-launch period, when game marketers put out video announcements and trailers to get potential players amped. According to the Octoly YouTube and Video Games Report, 90% of the views surrounding a game’s pre-launch hype come from videos released by brands. After launch, however, this ratio begins to skew further in the opposite direction.
With this as the case, it’s important for gaming brands to realize the potential YouTube video has for popularizing their products — whether they create the videos themselves or partner with content creators who already showcase gaming on the digital platform. Videos from both creators and brands hold sway at different times in a game’s lifespan, and noting this means developing a truly comprehensive sense of popularizing a game on YouTube. As a gaming brand, here are some tips to getting started when it comes to the digital video platform:
1. Acknowledge the power of video.
As Activision’s Jonathan Anastas, the company’s VP of digital marketing, notes, “Digital video is central to our marketing strategy.” Activision popularized Call of Duty on YouTube by leaving tuned-in gamers with no shortage of video on the digital platform. More video content means more possibility for accumulating an audience.
2. Aim for (relevant) maximum exposure.
In spite of the previous lesson, blindly posting as many videos as possible about a game won’t necessarily gain traction with its target demographic. Aim matters, so try to expose a game through large audience networks that are already in place (and who are known to have a gaming bent). There’s one surefire way to do this:
3. Work with major YouTube influencers.
For example, Ubisoft did this by partnering with comedy duo Smosh so as to “tap into” their large network of fans who also “might have an affinity with [Ubisoft’s] brand,” according to Tony Key, the company’s vice president of sales and marketing. Of Smosh as a major influencer, he said, “They’ll integrate Assassin’s Creed into a music video that gets 50 million views.”
4. Get creative with branded content.
In 2012, Halo 4 released the live-action web series “Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn” through Machinima’s Prime YouTube channel, breaking sales records that year. As Phil Spencer, the head of Microsoft studio put it, “Forward Unto Dawn” was “just a thing that people liked to watch.” Now, the popular show has made its way onto Netflix, reaching potentially even greater audiences.
5. Officially integrate with YouTube.
Nintendo lets gamers upload their play straight to YouTube without the worry of copyright infringement. Though this means that Nintendo automatically owns all that content, it’s still a way to encourage publicity of their games on the widely watched video platform.
6. Don’t stop creating.
As the Octoly report suggests, “Building an audience…is a year-round effort.” In order to drive viewers to a channel, there’s got to be more content on there than only the trailers surrounding a new game’s release. Filling in down-time between major gaming moments with behind-the-scenes talks with game developers and featuring fan-generated content will keep gamers engaged throughout the year…meaning they’ll more likely be attuned when a big gaming announcement does hit.
7. Lastly, one can always look to Minecraft.
How it happened remains a bit of a mystery, but Minecraft has become a YouTube phenomenon. Minecraft-related videos on YouTube soared from about 4,000 in august 2010 to 309,000 fan-made videos today, according to Octoly’s study. One reason for this is that YouTube allowed fans of the game to upload footage of walkthroughs and to share tips, which caught like wildfire. Using that knowledge to incite a YouTube frenzy for future games might not measure up to the one generated by Minecraft, but it certainly can’t hurt to take inspiration from it.