YouTube's five tips for a successful games channel

Video giant offers insight for games content, promising more direct involvement in the world of games
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Speaking at the White Nights mobile games conference in Helsinki today, members of YouTube’s internal games shared tips for developers, publishers and consumers wishing to make a success of a game-focused YouTube channel.

With YouTube standing as one of the most powerful ways to engage audience with games – the platform attracts 1bn unique visitors every month, and gaming is the subject matter of close to 20 per cent of its most popular channels – success on the video portal is an alluring prospect.

The session at White Nights detailed the fact that 95 per cent of all people who play games globally use YouTube in some way to engage with games, whether as a viewer or content uploader. It was also stated that YouTube stands as the world’s second most popular search engine, despite that not being its function.

However, just how to make an impact on YouTube – when 300 hours of content are uploaded every minute – is a discoverability challenge that could be seen to eclipse the equivalent problem on app stores.

Recognising the challenge, YouTube’s head of EMEA YouTube Gaming Partnerships Ina Fuchs and Olga Goodman-Stephens, YouTube gaming creator strategist, shared five key lessons for making gaming content a success on the website.

Build your channel – start with the basics

Goodman-Stephens suggested: “Make your channel your home on YouTube. Don’t use it as a dumping ground for every bit of video you find on YouTube. It’s a place for your brand […] Make sure you have a [visually] consistent brand, and make sure it looks great on mobile.

Optimise your thumbnails

“A lot of the times when creators come to us they are very focused on creating great content, but […] they totally forget about packaging it," Goodman-Stephens continued. 

Goodman-Stephens and Fuchs revealed that 90 per cent of top performing videos have custom thumbnails for their listing. 60 per cent of the most successful also repeat some title element as text in that thumbnail. Finally, 70 per cent had various images laid over one another for the thumbnail, blending – in the case of games – game art, images of the YouTuber, text and other assets.

The team also recommended human faces as a key feature of any YouTube video thumbnail, as, according to Fuchs: “We are all human, and that means we notice faces”.

Keep content coming in

“This is the magic formula for success on YouTube,” offered Goodman-Stephens, asserting the importance of regular and frequent content. “The more you upload, the better your watch time is, and the better your watch time, the better your placement will be.”

The pair also suggested "building habit" in your users with regular features, a well-communicated schedule for the likes of monthly tips videos, and using those approaches to focus on attracting subscribers.

Embrace fan uploads

“You can leverage your fans to help as your channel grows,” said Goodman-Stephens.

The recommendation here was clear. Curating and hosting fan-made content – particularly when you are struggling to meet demand for more original content of your own – serves as a powerful tool.

Go live

“Live content on YouTube is one of the most engaging kinds," Goodman-Stephens concluded. "Some creators see 35 times more comments on their live content than with their on-demand content. Live is very, very engaging.”

YouTube’s response to the need for catering to the growing eSports space means they have had to make livestreaming easier than ever, claimed the pair, before demonstrating livestreaming of a mobile game played on stage by an audience member.

Aside from sharing the advice, Fuchs asserted the potential of YouTube’s dedicated gaming website and app, the latter of which was launched to the UK and US in August 2015.

“YouTube Gaming – our app and desktop site – is really a lens of all things gaming on YouTube, and a new way for people to connect with games,” she said.

Fuchs also admitted a lack of visibility in previous years by YouTube’s internal gaming team at high profile games events, but assured the audience that had changed through 2015 through presence at events like E3, and suggested YouTube would be more prominent in the games space going forward.

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