Youtube has become the video hub of the Internet. It is no longer just a place for music videos and funny clips. Some of the world’s best entertainers provide their content through Youtube. Vloggers, journalists, and beauty gurus are just some examples of people that share their news and experiences, through Youtube, to millions of people. It gives creators and entertainers the tools to provide their content to millions of viewers.
Gaming channels are a huge part of Youtube. Some of the biggest channels on Youtube revolve around video games. The content varies from let’s plays, tutorials, commentaries, etc. Millions of viewers are drawn in by either the video game itself or the personality of the person playing the game. These gaming channels have changed the video game industry in a vast number of ways.
The biggest name in Youtube, PewDiePie, provides commentaries and let’s plays of video games. He has become one of the biggest entertainers in the world thanks to Youtube and video games. He plays games and has a unique personality that draws viewers from across the world. He has over 37 million subscribers and over 9 billion views on his videos.
Companies from across various genres are realizing the potential Youtube can have with their businesses. It is their way to market their products and tailor their marketing to the exact audience they want. Unlike TV commercials where companies must pay for these advertisements, companies that advertise their products on Youtube allows them to not have to pay for advertisement.
PewDiePie averages over 2 million views on each one of his videos. That means over 2 million different people from across the globe watch him play video games. For the most part, big Youtube channels like PewDiePie are not paid by the video game developers to play their games. They usually do it because they want to.
I myself have a Youtube channel, albeit a much smaller channel, and I do not receive any income from EA to feature their game, Fifa 15. That said, I enjoy their game and want to expose the game to the public; and it’s not just myself but many other channels, big and small, that feature Fifa 15. These video game companies are receiving free advertisement unlike anything ever seen before.
Some companies have realized the benefits that popular Youtube channels could provide for their games. CD Projekt Red, creator of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and Treyarch, creator of Call of Duty Black Ops 3, have flown out and shown pre-released games to some of the biggest Youtubers. These Youtubers benefit because they get exclusive and sought-after content to show their viewers. In turn they advertise the game to their viewers, even if it is not their intention.
The free marketing comes at a cost, though, for the video game companies. Since it is free advertisement there is no contract between the two parties. This allows the Youtuber to say whatever he wants about the title; whether they are positively or negatively received.
EA Sports, Rockstar, and Nintendo are some of the companies that are not too pleased with the way Youtube channels could market or hinder their product.
In theory, only video game companies can earn revenue from the use of their video game. When Youtubers make videos, for the most part, they are receiving ad-revenue from those viewers that watch the ads placed by Youtube on their video. If a Youtuber is making videos of them playing a video game they are technically making money because of that game. At any time a video game company can file a claim and take down a video featuring their game, according to Youtube’s Terms of Service.
EA Sports FIFA used to be a company, like CD Projekt Red, that would fly out some of the biggest Youtubers to play their new game. Recently, the relationship between the two has turned sour. Fifa Youtubers, for the most part, are now promoting coin-selling sites, virtual currency in the Fifa Ultimate Team game mode. This upsets EA because these coins are a large part of the micro-transactions in Fifa and generate a ton of revenue for EA. If a third party is selling them for far cheaper, EA will be losing out on a ton of revenue. The Youtubers are getting paid by these websites to promote them before each video, many times making around as much money as they are from the ad-revenue itself. The promoting and buying of coins goes against the Terms and Services of EA and has led to many Youtubers being banned. The Youtubers are finding ways around it and has caused a battle between EA and the Fifa Youtubers.
Rockstar has been having similar problems with GTA V. Many Youtubers, make a living posting videos on money glitches found in GTA multiplayer. This has led to the closure of some very famous Youtube channels and bans off of GTA Online.
Nintendo has taken a different approach. They realize they have the sole rights to market their games, so they will allow Youtubers to do so only if they sign up to their program, Nintendo Creators Program. Through this program they form a contract with the Youtubers in which they get a portion of the cut of ad-revenue as well as “control” over the message. This, though, has caused a huge backlash from the gaming and Youtube community.
Overall, there is no doubt that Youtube has drastically changed the video game industry. Never have companies experienced quite the same level of free marketing as some video game companies have thanks to Youtube. Games like Minecraft and Five Nights at Freddies have become Youtube sensations and have experienced much greater commercial success due to Youtube.
The problem for many of these companies is that the message cannot be controlled and third party companies are also using this platform to market their products.
A battle has risen over whether the free marketing outways the negative aspects. As of right now it appears the free marketing is winning. At any time companies like EA and Rockstar can take legal action and stop the use of their products in Youtube videos. But with it comes the loss of all the free marketing and a risk of backlash from their consumers.
What do you think of the impact Youtube has had on Video Games? Should companies take the route of Nintendo or let Youtubers keep the revenue/message for themselves? Write your comments below.