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Youtubers charging money for covering a game?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by StarvingIndieDeveloper, Jan 21, 2019.

  1. StarvingIndieDeveloper

    StarvingIndieDeveloper

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    When I gave out a free key for my game to one Youtuber, I got a message from a member of his "management team" saying that the cost of "integration" on his channel is $800, and $1,600 for a "dedicated video".

    I guess it depends on what "integration" means, but since this message was a response to giving him a free key I have to assume that "integration" means video coverage of the game. Is this how it often works? His channel has 319,000 subscribers, which puts it in the medium range.
     
  2. Baste

    Baste

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    It's very common for Youtube or Twitch streamers to do sponsored stuff where they play a game in exchange for money. If it's worth it for you is completely up to you. Check out their previous sponsored videos (they're generally marked as such) - how many views do they get? Are you comfortable with paying $1600 for that many people to watch someone play your game?
     
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  3. Murgilod

    Murgilod

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    If you want a sponsored video, you have to sponsor them.
     
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  4. StarvingIndieDeveloper

    StarvingIndieDeveloper

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    I didn't ask him for a sponsored video; I gave him a free key in the hope he would cover the game like he does for plenty of "random horror games" that weren't sponsored (or in some cases, the video was sponsored by a game dev whose game wasn't one of the "random horror games" but was merely mentioned briefly at the beginning of the video).
     
  5. BlankDeedxxAldenHilcrest

    BlankDeedxxAldenHilcrest

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    Yeah dude, that's pretty 101, totally normal.
    Yeah, but to him it is a business and his air time costs money. If he showed your game for free, thus giving you free viewers and potential customers, then he wouldn't really be in any position to charge other people much, especially normal rates. I know it just looks like a fun video, but it's a legit business for them.
     
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  6. StarvingIndieDeveloper

    StarvingIndieDeveloper

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    But most of his videos aren't sponsored (possibly 90% just from a quick look through some of them), and he plays "random" games and other games that weren't sponsored.
     
  7. BlankDeedxxAldenHilcrest

    BlankDeedxxAldenHilcrest

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    Right, sorry, that was your actual question. Could be a couple things. Hey may scour less known games as channel filler, maybe games that people don't promote themselves, and those are the only unsponsored videos. He may have learned, or just be hardwired, to treat any game coming from a developer as a sponsored video. He could also be yanking your chain, I don't know the channel or have any analytical data for their traffic. Make sure you try more than one person as well, you need something to reference the other off of. If you have a choice B and they have similar traffic data, then the price point for having your video reviewed should be about the same. If you know the price is fair for his channel, I've just gotta assume one of the first two options. Remember, upscale, upscale, upscale, try more people.

    Edit: Also, you could ask if you're polite him or his people will probably be more than happy to answer your questions.
     
  8. Antypodish

    Antypodish

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    I only suspect, that your youtuber, may be picking random games by him self, or by suggestions in video discussion. Hence no sponsorhip is involved.
    For which in such case, youtuber may take advantage, when somebody ask youtuber, to play his/her game.
    Which is normal in business world.
    Did you find out, if does other youtuber also quote price, when you issue free key to them to play?
    That is something worth to check.
     
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  9. Joe-Censored

    Joe-Censored

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    Well, sounds like he has no plans to play your game at "random", but $1600 will change his mind. Also, just because he doesn't mention sponsorship for the other games doesn't mean they weren't paid for.
     
  10. digiross

    digiross

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    I'm sure there are plenty of youtubers or twitch'ers that would be happy to receive a free key to try out your game without paying money.
     
  11. GarBenjamin

    GarBenjamin

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    It could be they just have their own interests and will cover those. As a content creator they have to be creating content.

    The business part people mentioned is very valid. Any time you build up a following whether via videos, a website, Twitter, an email list etc that is very valuable. You "have the eyeballs" so to speak.

    Like I have considered starting another business venture of reviewing games on YT. I'd already know of a lot of games I'd like to cover. Of course in the beginning the channel would be worth nothing. But after spending money & time building it up say I get it to where each video is watched by a minimum of 2,000 people who love certain kinds of games. That has value. And because I had to work my ass off and spend money to get it to that point and already have games I personally want to cover then yes if someone else wanted to have their game covered they could pay to do so. Generally that IS the model for such a thing.

    I can only guess the other videos are either games they personally want to share with their audience and / or they really are paid videos perhaps just not the featured $1,600 ones. For $1,600 I would expect the video to be viewed by a lot of people. Certainly not dozens or even a few hundred.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2019
  12. nat42

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    I'm naive, but it would seem a bit off to me if this were the case (and I have no idea how likely that might be)

    In many countries it is required to be clear if something is an advertisement, ie. something someone has been paid to promote.

    I can understand a fee for a Youtuber to clearly feature/promote a game, where it is clear to the audience that the promotion has been sponsored.

    But a fee to play or review a game on a channel, if it is not clear that money has been paid for that (even if the review seems to contain positives and negatives), that's shady and possibly illegal in many places.

    I recall quite a bit of fuss a few years ago, over whether a certain now deceased British personality had asked devs to pay for coverage.
     
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  13. Kiwasi

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    YouTubers got to eat too. Small YouTubers will play your game for the cost of the key. But anybody who can command more then a few thousand views is going to charge you for it.
     
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  14. Lurking-Ninja

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    Marketing-expense, I don't even understand why is it surprising. You can market your game on the other way around as well, make it famous and then YouTubers will cover it for free because they need people who curious about your hyped game.
     
  15. Billy4184

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    Just because he'll cover some games for free doesn't mean that he'll cover your game for free. When you have limited time to make videos you have to make a decision as to what is going a) to build your brand or b) give you money directly.

    My suggestion is to make such a good game and hype it so much that he comes asking you for a key so he can cover it and get in on the action.
     
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  16. StarvingIndieDeveloper

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    So in other words: make the game popular enough to get coverage so the coverage will make it popular. Catch-22. Even enormously popular games like "Slay The Spire" initially had virtually no sales until they got at least one large Youtuber to cover them before they gained popularity.
     
  17. Lurking-Ninja

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    This is the exact reason why good marketing professionals get their hefty payment. They know how to break this cycle efficiently. This is why most people usually suck at marketing at first. We don't know how to do that efficiently.
     
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  18. ShilohGames

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    Popular YouTubers get to make their own choices about what to cover. YouTubers know they only have time to cover a tiny percent of games that come out. They will try to cover games that will provide their channel traffic. That is why they often cover games that look awesome and have a really good chance of being popular without their help. If your game won't appeal to a huge mass of viewers, then the YouTuber needs to charge you something to justify covering your game instead of other games. Think of the YouTuber's channel as a small business that the YouTuber is running as a full time income.
     
  19. ShilohGames

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    Yeah, that is pretty much it. YouTubers need to constantly produce new content for their viewers to watch. So they cover games that are already very popular or look like they will soon become extremely popular. If a game looks like it might only get a hundred views and another game looks like it might get a million views, the YouTuber needs to cover the game that will get a million views.
     
  20. AcidArrow

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    Isn't that why youtube has ads?
     
  21. Billy4184

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    That's pretty much it. If something is exciting enough and is being talked about in the right circles, the media will come. That's why building community and networking with some cool people and getting retweeted and stuff like that is very important.

    You can't start at the middle of a marketing strategy, you have to work step by step from the bottom.
     
  22. angrypenguin

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    That's half of the point. Consider this question: Why would someone show your game on their channel if your game is not good enough to attract viewers who will then give you ad views?

    If your game is already popular and people are searching for it then it could directly gain viewers for the channel. If your game looks amazing when watched then that could gain them viewers. If it's well aligned to their brand or audience it could gain them viewers.

    If it's not strongly aligned for those (and probably other) things then giving your air time is a cost to them.
     
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  23. AcidArrow

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    Why would I pay to have my game shown on a channel if it's not going to attract viewers?
     
  24. ShilohGames

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    Ads are only effective on popular high traffic videos. Ads don't help much on low traffic videos. If a YouTuber is asked to cover a game that is unlikely to be popular, they may offer to do it for a fee to make up for the lack of ad revenue that low traffic video will make.
     
  25. Murgilod

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    Also, it's very easy for a video to get demonetized on youtube. It's easy and there's no actually published guide that guarantees you won't get demonetized. On top of that, ad revenue on the site has dropped a fair bit in the last few years. There's a reason so many youtubers rely on things like patreon now.
     
  26. angrypenguin

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    The words "attract viewers" mean different things from a developer's or a media outlet's perspective.

    When a developer is "attracting viewers" to a game which isn't popular yet, any potentially interested viewers are good. To someone running a channel which already has viewers, "attracting viewers" means getting new people to watch the channel - people who weren't already watching it - or giving existing viewers something good enough to watch that they'll come back.
     
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  27. ShilohGames

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    Yeah, it is sad but true.
     
  28. StarvingIndieDeveloper

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    They get ad revenue based on viewers, not subscribers. I think that includes repeat viewers of the same video, doesn't it?
     
  29. Murgilod

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    Ad revenue is measured in, if you're lucky, double digit dollar amounts total for a video.
     
  30. StarvingIndieDeveloper

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    I realize that it's obviously in a Youtuber's interest to get as much money as they can; but I was surprised that 1) This particular Youtuber usually gets anywhere from 10k - 60k views per video, so $800 for a video would equal 12.5 to 75 views per dollar, which means I probably wouldn't even get enough sales to break even since 60k viewers (the uppermost bound) translates into probably only a few dozen purchases, maybe a couple hundred at most, right? At a profit of c. $2 per sale, that's maybe a few hundred dollars at the very most, so that means I'm actually in the negative, possibly by quite a bit, even in the very best-case scenario. That seems bizarre, frankly. 2) This Youtuber's management team seemed to have automatically sent me info about payment without even considering the game. 3) The other Youtubers I've sent keys to haven't asked for any fee, although only two have said they will play it. Maybe I was naive, but I just assumed that most of these channels focus on ad revenue and hence actually welcome free keys (except the channels that get so many keys that they take them for granted of course).
     
  31. bobisgod234

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    It's not the Youtuber's job to work out a cost that leads to you profiting. That's your job, and if the Youtuber doesn't offer a good deal, you don't have to take it.
     
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  32. angrypenguin

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    I didn't mention subscribers. By "come back" I meant exactly that - people who might re-watch the same video, or watch other videos by the same creator, or recognise the name when they're browsing in the future and click it again.

    Also note that ad views aren't the only way in which viewers are valuable. Getting the average view numbers up means the videos are worth more for, say, people like yourself.

    You're looking at a single promotional effort rather than a holistic marketing plan.

    Also, consider how valuable early users are. You might not make any profit off them, but they could be important to you in other ways.
     
  33. Lurking-Ninja

    Lurking-Ninja

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    1; no one said this particular YT-channel is in the right, we said it's not surprising
    2; it's up to you how you agree with such YT-channel, you probably can bargain a lot, depends on what you and your game can bring to their table
    3; it's possible that they're just trying to kick some extra money out of you, it depends, we can't judge it instead of you, it's up to you if you agree, we say it's a situation which isn't unknown nor surprising
    4; you are talking about all YT-channels like they would be the same, they're actually different, people do things differently, someone probably is trying to concentrate on the ad-revenue (which is unlikely) solely, others try to expand and get as much people as possible in order to get extra deals with sponsors, and others are trying to funnel as much people as they can to the patreon to finance the channel directly

    It's your job to find the proper channels for your game and your budget, if you don't like it, walk away or try to bargain.
     
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  34. Antypodish

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    And there is also something like negotiation, to get best possible value of the content.
     
  35. Kiwasi

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    I don't know of any full time YouTubers that make a living off of just advertising revenue. Full time YouTubing typically involves a multifaceted approach to revenue, including:
    • Ad revenue
    • Sponsorship
    • Crowd funding (Patreon)
    • Merchandise
    • Paid videos
    • Government funding
    • Affiliate marketing
    • Probably a few others I've missed
    Its simply not possible to run a quality competitive YouTube channel on advertising revenue alone.

    Ads are relatively complex. YouTubers get payed when a viewer clicks an ad, or when the viewer watches more then a set amount of time on an ad (I think its about 15 seconds).
     
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  36. Ryiah

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    Just thought I would chime in on this. Like @Murgilod said modern streamers are now turning towards alternative ways of making money like Patreon, but just asking people to sign up will almost never work on its own so they make incentives to sign up and a very common incentive is to have people who are actively subscribed make suggestions for future videos.

    Just as an example I'm subscribed to Floatplane for a YouTuber called Tech Deals. He's a former IT consultant that reviews hardware and gives his opinions on the best deal for a certain goal (eg 1080p gaming). A few months back he created a subscription-only Discord that people could ask him questions and get direct answers rather than just wait for one of his videos to come out.

    What I suspect is happening with the YouTuber you looked into is that his "random horror games" are not as random as you seem to think they are and while they're not "sponsored" in the traditional sense they're still effectively being paid for by the members of his community.
     
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  37. Ryiah

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    This. Quality is expensive. We're far beyond the point where an affordable webcam (eg Logitech C920 1080p at $50) is sufficient for recording. I regularly watch Linus Tech Tips (a tech-focused YouTuber) and the equipment they work with is absolutely insane.

    Two of his cameras, and the accessories needed to make use of them, come to a total of approximately $138,000.

    https://www.diyphotography.net/amusing-unboxing-138000-worth-8k-red-weapon-accessories/

    It doesn't stop there though. He needs a server to hold all of his videos (one of his project videos showed them assembling a 1 PB data storage rack), servers to process the raw footage (high-core Xeons, as much memory as you can squeeze into them, high-end SSDs, workstation-level GPUs), etc.

    Granted most streamers aren't on this level, but having at least two high-end systems (one to play the game and then another to capture the footage and process it in realtime) is completely normal for the vast majority.

    It's completely dependent on the type of ad. TrueView in-stream advertisements have to be watched for at least 30 seconds or the entire duration if the ad is shorter than 30 seconds.

    https://www.youtube.com/intl/en-GB/yt/advertise/running-a-video-ad/
    https://support.google.com/google-a...990.1500282658-1990455631.1500051479&hl=en-GB
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2019
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  38. ShilohGames

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    Well, that is all normal enough. Most YouTubers won't ask for a fee, but a few rare channels will and that is their choice. Also, you need to remember most of these YouTubers receive more free Steam keys than they will ever have time to review. At this point, I imagine nearly every YouTuber can happily take free Steam keys for granted. Any YouTuber getting 10k-60k views per video is likely sitting on a few hundred free Steam keys each month.

    Check out KeyMailer and Woovit. There are thousands of lesser known YouTubers using KeyMailer and Woovit, and you will likely have better luck using those to distribute Steam keys to YouTubers than trying to email YouTubers directly.
     
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  39. Murgilod

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    In fairness, most of their equipment is a lot less money. RED kinda got a name as being a more financially accessible way to shoot quality video, but it's not exactly a reputation they live up to anymore. I think even the guy who was super obsessed with RED cameras who recommended the builds that ended up totalling that has gone on record as saying "yeah, we 100% paid too much."

    That said, if you want to start kitting out for even a "decent" production level youtube channel, you're still going to be spending a few grand for a camera and lens kit (you're going to want to buy into 4k now if you don't want to do very expensive replacements down the line); you'll want a three point light kit because that'll get you a lot of mileage and thankfully you can afford to cheap out here a bit, so that'll run you maybe $300 tops; you'll need at least two mics: a decent lavalier (don't go below $100, but shop around for deals), and a condenser mic for recording things like voice over, or possibly a boom mic but honestly I feel those are kinda problematic when it comes to space.

    But yeah, starting up a youtube channel now, unless you have a very specific niche, ain't cheap. Gaming youtubers are a dime a dozen, so unless you can make up for things with a genuinely huge level of talent, you're going to have to pay.

    To make this all the more perilous, this sort of thing will typically end up being what a half million subscriber channel will make in ad revenue in maybe two years.
     
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  40. StarvingIndieDeveloper

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    Some people recommend developing a personal connection with individual Youtubers, since they're more likely to play your game that way; but it's obviously almost impossible to get them to see your replies to their Twitter or Facebook pages unless their volume is really low, but even then they rarely reply to anyone.

    There's also the method of adding references to individual Youtubers in the game itself ("Emily Wants to Play 2" did this), but they aren't going to see that unless they do play the game and their fans aren't going to mention it in the comments unless their fans have played the game, which they won't unless they see it on Youtube or a comparable venue.
     
  41. angrypenguin

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    So what else are you doing to get attention to your game?

    Influential people picking your stuff out of the crowd and spruiking it for you isn't something that often happens out of nowhere. If you've identified that they're more likely to play stuff their fans already talk about then a) is that correlation or causation and b) how might you get their fans talking about it?
     
  42. StarvingIndieDeveloper

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    I've been posting updates on Twitter, which sometimes produces a few thousand views if they're retweeted by indie gamedev bots that monitor certain hashtags, but that mostly seems to produce views by other developers rather than potential customers. I used to post stuff on Facebook but that didn't get any attention to speak of, even with paid promotion.

    I should undoubtedly post videos rather than just screenshots, but producing a realtime gameplay video requires better hardware than what I have (or a specialized card). I could "fake" it using programmed movements and only short sequences, but that may or may not look like actual gameplay.

    Here's my Twitter account : https://twitter.com/StarvngIndieDev
     
  43. angrypenguin

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    Is that really the issue? If you're mostly getting views from other developers then I'd look at different venues rather than different formats.
     
  44. StarvingIndieDeveloper

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    The reason most of the viewers are developers is because the main exposure is from retweets by bots that monitor hashtags related to indie game dev. I haven't found anything similar yet for general game-related hashtags that might get potential customers to see my posts. Anyone know of any hashtags that would work?
     
  45. GarBenjamin

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    Sent you a message.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2019
  46. Kiwasi

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    Perhaps it would help if I go through how I choose to feature videos on my channel? Its only a small channel, but it may give you some insight into how YouTubers think.

    If the game is unsolicited, I will look at the store front page. That's it. I won't even download or play it. So unless the store front page grabs me, an unsolicited game isn't getting a video.

    If the store page grabs me, I might watch a few other videos on the game to see what other people are saying about it, and to get a feel for the game play itself.

    If the game is from someone I have a personal connection with, I will skip these steps and jump straight to downloading. Regardless, any game that gets this far is guaranteed to be opened up.

    Once I've opened the game, I will attempt to start playing on my own. Its surprising how many games fail at this step. If I can't figure out how to play your game, I've got hundreds of other games I can figure out. So that means make it obvious how to play. Don't do gimmicky menus, the start game button should be prominent. Don't give me thirty game modes to choose from. Make the control scheme standard (or at least obvious).

    Then I have to enjoy the game. (Or at least be convinced my audience will enjoy the game). Make the first level engaging. Otherwise I'm never getting as far as the second. There are plenty of games that have failed here, because they simply aren't enjoyable.

    After that, its time to consider if the game is actually YouTubeable. Can I think of a way to present the game that fits with my channel format? Can I make a video of it? Will people actually want to watch the video?

    I hope that helps? Your game needs to pass all of these hurdles before it gets a video made. And the bigger the channel, the more demand they have for videos, so the more selective they can afford to be about what they play.
     
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  47. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    Indeed, Brackey's is a popular channel covering Unity and they've got an office with staff now, none of this is cheap especially full time staff on a location.
     
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  48. BIGTIMEMASTER

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    It seems like much of this conversation, though I didn't read all of it, is over whether or not there is fairness.

    Negotiating isn't about fairness. It's about leverage. There is a lot of animals in this world that cooperate with their own kind to hunt prey, but when the prey runs out they then devour each other. Humans are like that. That's just the way it is. It's war.

    Anyway, I expect this youtuber has no management team and is just some yahoo puffing their chest and trying to take advantage of ignorance. People lie, exaggerate, bluff, etc. You just got to be smarter or have more information is all. Most likely the only feasible leverage you'll be able to get is money. But you know, just do the math like you already have. If somebody maked a ridiculous offer, show them how the math doesn't work, see if there is any way to juice up the deal for them, if it isn't going to work forget it and move on. Just don't burn bridges. A person is an asshole one day because they slept funny the night before, a few days later they have a change of heart and write back to you maybe. Some dogs do a lot of barking until you bark back. Then they wanna be your friend. Just make sure you are always the calm leader and your door is always open.

    I wouldn't bother appealing to anybodies sense of fairness or generosity unless it's a last resort, though. It makes one seem desperate and that's just what the worst kind of predators are attracted to.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2019
  49. StarvingIndieDeveloper

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    The thing is, I've seen numerous Youtube channels - even some of the big ones - which still routinely play completely generic indie horror games, many of which take place in that same abandoned hospital asset set with the green stripe on the lower part of the walls; meaning that many of these Youtubers aren't that picky. When they say they're covering "three random horror games", the games are clearly literally random, in fact the Youtubers often complain about the lack of quality. So they clearly aren't carefully choosing these games or testing them in advance.

    Even more baffling to me is the fact that the earliest demo I released was covered in a few Youtube videos without having to email anyone, and despite its sparse content and crude state. But I can't get anyone to cover the current form of the game despite giving out free keys in email for the last three weeks.
     
  50. Antypodish

    Antypodish

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2014
    Posts:
    7,238
    Unfortunately, youtube is a place, where quality don't follow discoverability. Great content often is buried under stack of rubbish, which is promoted. And viewers also not making a favor, since they click first better link, without trying search for more interesting, or original content. I did say in past, but what annoys me with youtube, however many times I try to look for something fresh, after few videos I am redirected to content, which I have seen at least once in past. And often similar videos, with near same content, only shoveled order. That makes good vids buried even further. Sure I can look into new updated vids. But that not really helps much.

    The point is, if you watch games, and type horror game, you will be feed with most viewed / most promoted content. Is irrelevant if is good or not. People are trained, to click likes and subscribe, killing opportunity for many small youtubers, or casuals.

    Hence, youtuber see, ok this is popular, this got so many views, let make a video about it. Near 0 originality. Just copy cat. (youtube and cats) ...Not all of course, but I hope my point makes sense.

    Just my 5cents of youtube upsetness :)
     
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