Anyone who has invested significant time in the games industry over the past year or so has witnessed the major impact that video content has had on game launches. This explosive trend, specifically through YouTube and Twitch has been massive to say the least.

To deconstruct this recent shift in power when it comes to game promotion and distribution, I reached out to some of the most widely recognized game reviewers on YouTube, who work with the biggest game studios in the industry. The goal was to find out how they choose the games they play, what their video creation process is, how they review game titles, and what it takes to build up a significant fan base for video games on YouTube, especially today when the market has become increasingly saturated and hyper-competitive.

Before diving into insights, it’s important to understand who gamers are today. After all, knowing your audience is key to development and success.

Who’s Playing Games?

According to the 2015 ‘Essential Facts about the Computer and Video Game Industry’ report, there are roughly 155 million Americans playing video games today. That’s an average of 2 gamers per game-playing household in the US.

In terms of demographics, the average gamer is a 35 year old male, but women age 18 or older represent a significantly greater portion of the game playing population (33%) than boys age 18 or younger (15%).

In other words, gamers are everywhere and they are consuming content about their favorite games at an incredible pace. Minecraft is probably the best example of this viral trend. The game title generated over 47B views resulting in $2.5B in value at the cost of $0 marketing budget.

In other words, Minecraft understood that that the community really does have the keys to the kingdom. Fans have a huge stake in the game’s success, and instead of trying to control their customers and push the game forward the way they want, the company has rejoiced in their influence.

Getting Games Discovered on YouTube

As part of my research into succeeding through YouTube, I reached out to three prominent YouTube content creators to get their thoughts and insights as to what makes a killer game channel.

Ciji Thornton, known to her YouTube fans as Starslay3r, is not only an online TV Personality, but also a competitive gamer, casual cosplayer and a marketing consultant, which helps her understand the industry from both a consumer and developer’s point of view.

How do you decide what games you choose to play and review?

CT: Sometimes it’s because it’s a game that I’m really interested in and I just want to review it, and sometimes it’s because I am asked to review it by someone who is interested in my personal opinion on it. I‘m always very honest with my reviews and have no bias, so people tend to enjoy watching or reading my reviews, and I am happy that people value my opinion and look for these from me.

What do game studios need to know before they pitch you about their game?

CT: I will never lie about my opinion on a game for any reason, so game studios have to be ok with hearing a very honest opinion from me. That being said, I am someone who has spent my entire life gaming so I know a lot about them. I have been involved in every aspect of the video game process including concept creation, quality assurance, game unveiling and demonstration, tournament organization and game promotion. I am very passionate about the video game world and enjoy not just sharing my passion with my viewers, but also giving the studio constructive criticism that can help to improve the game and the user experience with the game. Most companies who have watched or read my reviews have made most of the changes I recommend. This is not something most reviewers can say, and something I pride myself on.

What have been some of your biggest challenges in growing your YouTube channel? 

CT: My biggest challenge has been time management and getting new content up. I am an independent contractor so I work with many companies daily and oftentimes my YouTube channel takes a backseat to everything else I have to do in a day. The past 2 years I was working so much (both as a marketing consultant and a full time twitch streamer) that I found it hard to do much more than one video a month.

My second biggest challenge has been dealing with copyright issues due to my extensive rhythm game content. Being a professional rhythm game player, many people turn to my channel for tips and to watch my play style. Due to YouTube’s strict copyright policy about 10 percent of my videos have been muted, regionally or globally blocked, or removed completely. While this number may not seem very high, it has targeted some of my most popular videos with over 50,000+ views on my channel which hurts the channel pretty badly every time it happens.

Our next YouTuber is Molt from GAMINGwithMOLT who has accumulated over 430K subscribers. To say that Molt has made gaming a ‘serious business’ is an understatement.

How do you decide what games you choose to play and review?

GM: When it comes to choosing and reviewing games there are a number of factors I take into consideration. Seeing that this is how we make our living, money is one of those, but if I find a game that I enjoy playing and I think my fans will enjoy as well, then oftentimes I will do a review just because I enjoy it without even reaching out to the game company. Then if the game company reaches out we can make a deal for more content. Paying attention to how well the game is made and how it plays is huge as well. If the art style just isn’t there or the playability needs work then I won’t promote the game because it would make me look bad promoting a game that has been rushed or isn’t finished.

What do game studios need to know before they pitch you about their game?

GM: Game studios need to realize that while we do make videos for fun, it is our job. A lot of game companies will ask for a review and in return will offer in-game currency or a shout out on their social media that will honestly not affect us at all. With everything we do on a day-to-day basis, these invites are almost insulting. If you want me to try your game, you should give me everything possible within the game and then offer to pay as well. We are getting your game in front of tens of thousands of viewers and it needs to be said that we are professionals as well.

What have been some of your biggest challenges in growing your YouTube channel? 

GM: The biggest challenges involve coming up with new ideas and fighting off competition. The mobile gaming niche on YouTube is growing especially within the Clash of Clans community and it’s hard to stay on top of things at times. It is also challenging not to compare yourself to others YouTubers who are growing very fast. It is important to focus on yourself as a YouTuber and not what others are doing because you want to be yourself, not a replication of another YouTube game enthusiast.

Last but not least, I spoke to TheGameHuntah, one of the best up-and-coming YouTube gamers who creates game reviews for iOS and Android mobile game titles.

How do you decide what games you choose to play and review?

GH: I just randomly pick something new from the app store every week unless a new big title is getting released.. I try to find games that fit my channel, and games that I enjoy playing, and/or my fans/subscribers/followers have requested.

What do game studios need to know before they pitch you about their game?

GH: I have a perfect combination of humor and gamer skills and you can expect to see that in my videos. I always give 110% and expect to receive support from the studio. I don’t follow scripts, but I like to hear ideas (if the studio have several specific targets). I’m good at video games, and I know how to show the best side of a game in my videos.

What have been some of your biggest challenges in growing your YouTube channel? 

GH: I take a lot of work, especially for somebody who already has a full time job. You need to work harder to be able to deliver videos that your fans/followers enjoy so much. When you are a small channel, you need to work extra hard to find information about new games, contact developers and publishers, YouTube Networks, etc…try to stay one step ahead of the competition.

When people search for a video, YouTube always gives priority to channels with many subscribers, even when their content is irregular or of poor quality. Reaching the 5000 subscribers milestone changes everything! That’s when you finally start receiving traffic from search results, and people find your content and stay for the quality or the entertainment value of your videos.

In my case, I did not want to lock myself to only one type of game, so I’m covering many different titles across various platforms. The idea is, if people find me for a specific game that entices them to stay as a subscriber I want them to check out the rest of my videos.

Original article: www.gamasutra.com.