I think by now we all know that video gaming is a multi-billion dollar industry, even out-performing Hollywood in revenue. So there’s a lot of money to be made here – but aside from actually starting up a company or going to work for the studios, how can you get some of it?
There are tournaments and contests that award money to the top players, but there are a few savvy people who are managing to make money by just sharing their video-gaming experiences via YouTube. I’m going to share my own favorite “walkthroughers” in this post.
NON-INTERACTIVE VIDEO GAMES
Those of you who have been around for awhile will remember my first post about what I called non-interactive video-gaming.
Essentially when I would have trouble getting past a certain point in a game I would turn to YouTube to find someone who might have recorded themselves beating that particular problem area.
Well, I got a whole lot more than I bargained for. I soon found that people were recording their entire video game experiences and leaving their own commentary over the top of the game.
I watched about a thousand walkthrough videos, but I eventually found myself coming back to the same four guys over and over. Each one of these gamers brings something different to the table, so depending on my mood I’ll go looking for a walkthrough by a specific person.
Sometimes I might watch the same one over again on each channel, just to see how these different personalities react to the surprises and challenges of the same video game. The most recent one I did this with was The Walking Dead video game. This is one where the choices you make can affect the branching of the story and therefore the outcome of the game:
My Top YouTube Videogame Walkthroughers
Ok, so who are these guys anyway? I’ll introduce you guys to my top 4 go-to “Walkthroughers”.
Gaming Insanity at its best
Some of you might remember Vash from my original “Addicted” article. The thing about him is that he pulls no punches. There’s a lot of cursing and un-politically correct joking going on during the gameplay. So if you’re not one for hearing all that then you should avoid.
Vash knows a lot about the games so he’ll fill you in on some of the history and/or hidden secrets of the game as he’s playing. Just be prepared for some f-bombs, is all. As for me, it doesn’t bother me at all and I usually get a kick out of it, anyway.
You can tell he loves these games and isn’t just doing a job. His commentary is very lively so you don’t fall asleep. Trust me, I’ve seen some video commentary where you can tell this is just the game they were told to play today and they don’t really care one way or the other. Vash is thankfully nothing like that.
When I want to just have some fun and check out a cool game his channel is the first one I hit up. Here’s Vash playing an old school favorite of mine from the Playstation 2 era:
Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus Trailer:
Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus P.9:
“King of the YouTube Walkthrough”
ThaRadBrad has the biggest following of all the walkthroughers that I’ve seen. It’s funny because he’s actually the last one of these guys I found.
I think Brad’s success comes from the fact that he seems like the type of guy that you would just hang out with. His commentary is usually pretty mellow and yet funny and interesting, so you don’t get bored.
He’s not g-rated either, although not as liberal or non-pc with the cursing as Vash. Again, this sort of thing doesn’t bother me whatsoever so It’s cool with me.
Another thing that sets him apart is that the commentary is a bit more mature, in the sense that I’ve yet to hear him really bash a game, even the insufferable Amy. I kid you not, I wanted to throw my controller at the screen and I wasn’t even the one playing that game!
I watched a pretty long walkthrough he did of Silent Hill: Downpour recently. It was a great experience, especially since I didn’t have to go through all the scary stuff myself! Honestly, I’ve never been a real fan of them, and I would never have bought the game, but after seeing him play through it I could finally see why gamers have so much love for the Silent Hill series.
Silent Hill: Downpour Trailer
Silent Hill Downpour: LONGEST CHASE EVER
“Home of the 95% Let’s Play completion rate!”
TetraNinja is one of those “instinctive gamers”. I notice that even when he’s doing a blind playthrough of a game (meaning the first time he’s played it is on the video you’re seeing) he picks up on the game insanely quickly.
Sometimes I get stuck in these games and it’s not clear to me what I’m supposed to do next -that’s why I gravitated to these walkthroughs in the first place.
Every time I think he’s about to get stuck he manages to pick up on the clues right away. Some walkthroughers will cut the recording, figure it out, then start recording again, or just edit out all the parts where they were stumbling around clueless. With TetraNinja you don’t see a lot of that.
I’ll tend to check out his walkthrough’s if I want to see a tricky spot explained or want to see some precision gaming.
You’ll notice his tagline is “Home of the 95% Let’s Play completion rate!” This can be really important because there are a lot of abandoned walkthroughs out there. Someone might start out playing a game, then lose interest and you’re stuck with no ending unless you can find another one.
Sometimes if it looks like the walkthrough isn’t popular it does make sense to end it, but you can usually be sure TetraNinja will finish what he starts.
Finally, he’s mostly a PG-rated gamer, so nothing too bad from him, maybe some occasional cursing or “guy-humor.”
My favorite walkthrough from him is the one he did of the murder mystery game Heavy Rain.
Heavy Rain Trailer:
Heavy Rain Strip Tease:
“The most fun place to be on YouTube!”
GhostRobo has another huge following. I think this is because he has some truly lively commentary and you can tell he’s really enjoying himself as he plays through the game.
He has a lot of “Vlogs” out there, too. These are usually just him on cam either talking about the games or what’s going on with him. I’m not usually interested too much in those, but they’re popular with his subscribers so it makes sense to do them.
Another thing about GhostRobo is that he likes to involve the subscribers in contests and also gets them into the game sometimes. He’s had fans jump in from time to time if he needed help getting past a tough spot in a game.
The first thing I watched with GhostRobo was his L.A. Noire walkthrough. This was a game I was curious about, but again would never buy. I found the premise to be pretty cool, so I ended up watching 70+ parts of this thing.
GhostRobo is usually G-rated, so the whole family can watch without any fears of f-bombs or other video gamer favorite quotes. Another thing about the L.A. Noire walkthrough was that he was apparently forced to edit the nudity from the game clips to stay on the good side of YouTube (there was lots of nude dead bodies and such).
L.A. Noire trailer:
L.A. Noire Case 7:
RULES OF THE GAME
I’m not an insider on this stuff, but from listening to the vids and also keeping up with most of the tweets, I understand that there are some restrictions to posting these games on YouTube.
It makes sense when you think about it, since games are subject to copyright similar to other creative media like music and videos. Many times I’ve heard these guys explain that they had to turn off in-game music for a particular game because it used pop music that might get them in trouble or get their videos pulled.
From what I understand, Rockstar Games is one of the most aggressive companies when it comes to protecting their copyrights and allowing video game footage to be shown on YouTube. I guess I can’t blame them for not wanting a lot of this stuff to get out, since people might get lazy like me and never actually buy and play the game.
Along these lines I sometimes hear mention of “timed embargoes” on video game playthrough footage. What I mean by this is simply that there’s a hard date set for when the game footage can be live on YouTube. I don’t keep track of the game releases too closely, but I assume the game developers/publishers don’t want too much of the game getting out before it actually hits the streets.
It looks like most of the gamers I listed here are big enough that they can get ahold of a copy before the actual street date, play through it and then just set the videos to go live after the target date. I believe you have to be a YouTube Partner to actually do this.
As far as I know, normal YouTubers such as myself can’t really do it. When we upload something, it usually goes live right away (unless you set it to private or something). Another thing they can do is set their video thumbnail. If you check out their channels and playlists you’ll see they usually have consistent thumbnails for each one.
That was something I always wanted to do, but couldn’t figure out. I even wrote up an article about YouTube thumbnails out of frustration back in the day.
Little did I realize all you had to do was get a bajillion subscribers and video-views and you’d be all set. Why didn’t I think of that?
MUST BE THE MONEY
Again, not being an insider I don’t know the specifics on this, but I’ve heard a few of these gamers say during their commentary that they were either putting themselves through school with money made from these videos, or else actually making enough to support themselves by doing this.
To me, that’s pretty damn cool.
I really have no idea how much money you can bring in with ads on these videos. I see ads pop up on some of these, but I wonder how they can do it? Sometimes if I upload a video and it has a tv clip in it, I can’t submit it for ad-sharing revenue, since I don’t own the rights to it.
Maybe because their channels are so big, they can get a cut of that ad money? I don’t know for sure.
I see most of the guys are selling tshirts and possibly other merchandise, as well. I haven’t bought any of this stuff but I say why not offer it? When you’ve got fans and they want to support you I think it’s good to offer them a way to do that.
Speaking of supporting them, here’s where I have to confess again about a particular failing of mine. One of the best ways to show your support on YouTube is to click the Like or Favorite button. Not only does the sheer number of Likes/Favorites show how popular it is, but as you can imagine, it will help YouTube determine which videos should rank higher in the searches -which of course will mean more views.
My dirty little secret is that I hate to watch videos directly on YouTube, so I’ll try to download the whole playlist in bulk using methods I outlined in my article How To Download A METRIC CRAP-TON Of Videos From YouTube.
Doing it this way will still count as a view, but doesn’t really afford me the chance to go to each one and leave a Like/Favorite. As I mentioned in the previous article, I’m sure YouTube would frown on leaving bulk Likes or Favorites since it might look like you’re trying to game their system.
I will say this much, I do always go and leave a Like/Favorite on the first video in a series. This helps them get the series off to a good start and also lets them know about how popular a particular walkthrough is likely to be. There’s only so much time in the day, and I suppose it doesn’t do anyone any good to keep playing an unpopular series if people are clamoring for something else.
THE WRAP UP
So that’s pretty much my take on the surface of this genre of gaming. While I tend to watch more games than I play these days, I do save some of my favorites that I don’t want to be spoiled for myself.
Most of the games I mentioned above were games that I was curious about, but had no intention of ever playing. In these cases, the game publishers didn’t miss out on any money, since I was never going to buy them anyway.
There have been a couple games that I actually did buy based on seeing the game footage in a walkthrough. Like Heavy Rain above. I also bought Dark Souls based on a long walkthough.
If you check the comments (if you can bear the Youtube comments, that is), you’ll see that a lot of the commentary is from people who also own the game, or plan on buying it, so I’d say all in all these guys are doing a service and actually helping the game economy.
I watch a few other people but not regularly like these four, so if you know any good walkthough-ers I should subscribe to then let me know. (SIDE NOTE: Are there any girl gamers doing this? It strikes me that i didn’t come across even one in all my travels…)
Until next time, happy video game playing watching!