“Video Game High School,” the three-season show from Freddie Wong and his production company Rocket Jump, marks one of the most successful series to grace Google’s video platform. The show generated more than 110 million views during its three-season run on YouTube, and measured a 400% week-over-week increase in viewership from one season to the next.
In honor of the show’s high view count, Google took the time to analyze its tactics and ultimately measure its achievements.
It’s important to know that Rocket Jump earned its success with “Video Game High School.” Wong and Rocket Jump colleague Matt Arnold worked hard to crowdfund, collaborate with brands, and get some bigger studios involved in the production, in addition to using their YouTube knowledge to leverage the platform’s tools and tricks. Here’s a breakdown of how they gathered the hype and the money to propel a popular series through three seasons on YouTube:
1. Rocket Jump already knew that mixing live action and video game-style effects was a proven way to get views.
Rocket Jump posted “Real Life Portal Gun” on YouTube in 2010. The short featured Wong using a Nerf gun that actually turns out to have portal-making abilities. The spike in views of the short coincided with a spike in Google searches for “portal gun,” suggesting that the video picked up traction and spread via good, old-fashioned word of mouth.
2. The creators were already on Hollywood’s radar.
In 2011, Wong and company worked on a “behind the scenes” video about the feature film, “Cowboys & Aliens,” with the movie’s director, Jon Favreau. Favreau said of their YouTube work, “You got a really devoted audience, you do really innovative stuff, and…you guys are looking like you’re having so much fun doing what you’re doing.” These devoted audiences mean a lot in entertainment, and Rocket Jump’s wasn’t going unnoticed.
3. Wong knows how to annotate a YouTube video.
With so much experience on the platform, Wong knew the ins and outs of making content easily discoverable on YouTube and maximizing the use of its tools. He started using annotations in a truly creative way before that became the norm. In Rocket Jump’s “Real Life Mario Kart,” he used annotations to make clicking to other videos look like a game in and of itself.
4. Rocket Jump paid attention to fan requests.
Many fans of the YouTube creators’ videos actually requested a full-length movie from Rocket Jump. “VGHS” more or less answered their call. In fact, the series’ episode lengths grew to those of hour-long series on TV.
5. A prepared fan base made for eager crowdfunders.
Rocket Jump of course had its YouTube fan base in place (you know, from being a popular channel with a target demographic that loves internet videos — gamers), so people were waiting eagerly to watch the show…and to watch the best show possible. Hence, fans became funders, and that’s a big part of how “VGHS” was able to achieve all of its many high quality special effects and run for a full, three seasons. Sponsors also understood the power of Rocket Jump’s fans and contributed understanding that the show would be watched. Collective Digital Studio and Monster Beverage Corporation count as a couple of the series’ financial contributors.