Video may not be the best description for a gaming industry that is converging across multiple devices and platforms, but the importance of video as a medium for gamers is stronger than ever. Gamers are increasingly satisfying their hunger for tutorials, relevant news on upcoming titles, and other insider tips on YouTube, according to a new study from Google.
YouTube is a frequent destination for 95 percent of gamers when seeking entertainment and information, and Google has compiled fresh data on its viewing behavior to help marketers connect with those consumers at the most rewarding times. The amount of time spent watching gaming videos on YouTube doubled from 2011 to 2012, outpacing the site's overall growth in the United States. Smartphones and tablets are driving much of that growth, with one in three views originating on a mobile device last year, according to the report titled "Gamers on YouTube: Evolving Video Consumption."
Gamers increasingly turn to YouTube on evenings, weekends, and over the course of the summer. Overall, 32 percent of views occur between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., and viewing spikes 17 percent during the summer and 18 percent on weekends.
Game marketers who want to connect with this community on YouTube should tweak their strategy to reach gamers when they're most likely to be on the site. But Google also wants marketers to understand that they can and should add value to each stage of the gaming experience. Most console games make or break it within four months of launch, when more than four out of every five games sales occurs, so YouTube set out to find correlations between those sales and the specific videos released by game brands leading up to the release.
YouTube found that 60 percent of views happened before launch, on average, and 90 percent of those views were led by brand-released videos. Game publishers play a critical role in driving views before the release of a game, but community-based videos pick up the majority of interest once a game is available for purchase, the site concludes.
"It's incredibly important for us to deeply engage our incredibly large Call of Duty community on YouTube, where we can have a direct relationship with our most passionate fans and reach our target audience where they increasingly go to consume content," notes Jonathan Anastas, VP of digital marketing for Activision Publishing. "Whether it's revealing a blockbuster live-action trailer, taking gamers behind the scenes with developers, or empowering our fans to share their brand expertise with the community, digital video is central to our marketing strategy."
Fans rely heavily on game brands for trailers, demos, and launch videos as they determine interest in purchasing a new title. But after release, gamers seek out tutorials, walkthroughs, and parodies from third-party publishers.
YouTube also found a direct correlation between the top 10 selling console games in 2012 and the level of engagement for pre-launch videos. "As a game accumulates additional views in the months leading to launch, the correlation between views and sales not only remains intact, but grows stronger," YouTube notes in the report. "By using video data as a weekly or monthly pulse check of audience awareness and interest from pre-release to launch, brands could better measure their buzz and then optimize their marketing strategies accordingly."
YouTube says it plans to take a deeper look at video as a forecasting tool for game marketers. Future research will focus on the effect of paid views and how different types of video are connected to sales.
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Matt Kapko has been writing about mobile since 2006, before it became cool. Based in Long Beach, CA, he has covered mobile entertainment, digital media, marketing, and advertising for several business media outlets. A former editor and reporter for RCR Wireless News, paidContent, and iMedia Connection, Matt is a regular freelance reporter for ClickZ. You can follow Matt on Twitter at @MattKapko or drop him a line at email@example.com.