Hop on and get ready for a wild ride because the video game bandwagon is coming in from YouTube. Video games come and go—some are released with grandiose fanfare, while others are barely a blip on the radar. But one thing can raise awareness of any game: Let’s Play. This phenomenon where people provide commentary while recording themselves playing games has been around since the first time someone sat down with their friends and started talking while playing Super Smash Bros. Melee. This setup has become a popular staple on YouTube and is the reason that Twitch streaming exists. Though it has more than likely existed since the dawn of YouTube, its popularity rose at the same time Minecraft took off and the two soon became close friends.
Marketing for a game can be hard, especially if you are a small indie developer going up against the likes of EA and Activision, so the best press is always free press. That’s where Let’s Play players come in handy. They allow a company to show real people having fun playing their game and, no matter how bad the game might be, exposure is always the most important aspect; especially if those people are YouTube giants like Pewdiepie and Markiplier. Both of these accounts have millions of dedicated fans. Even YouTubers that don’t exactly follow the Let’s Play format can give an analytical review of a game using gameplay footage, allowing even more access to information on the game which can lead to increased sales.
Many developers, even large corporations like Nintendo, fear that if too many people say negative things about their game it will bomb abysmally, but that’s just not true. If a game is bad, it’s not on the people who complained, but on the people who developed the content. However, even bad press can be good for low-quality games, as TotalBiscuit points out. Whenever he reviews a game, no matter how bad it is, sales on Steam usually increase right after his video is posted. The evidence shows that if there are more ways for a consumer to experience a game before purchasing it, the sales usually go up.
The bandwagon is a powerful force. It brings people into games they normally might not have heard of. Heck, I would never have bought Minecraft if I didn’t see so many people playing it and having fun. Even more recently I bought the game Clustertruck after watching multiple YouTubers play it. Let’s Play is fun and enjoyable content, but even more than that, it is a way for games to be recognized.
Tyler Cooke hails from the small town of Alliston, Ontario, right outside of Barrie. He is known as a quiet individual, but also as the most boisterous character in class, depending on the day. His hobbies include reading, playing tabletop games, scouring Tumblr for memes, and of course playing video games.