YouTube’s video game community is booming.
Like the comedy and guru communities that rose to mainstream popularity before it, talented video game content creators are appealing to both niche and mainstream audiences by way of high quality, entertaining programming. Whether its video game news, reviews, or walkthroughs, more and more viewers are fast becoming mesmerized by the content, while simultaneously being drawn to the content creators.
The answer is laws and politics.
The biggest problem with YouTube’s gaming community was that, until recently, partnership was forbidden to anyone producing gaming content outside of Machinima-styled channels. Many gamers who were not in YouTube’s Partner Program put out videos that would reach top 10 most viewed videos of the day lists. Yet with traffic like this, they were never once able to receive communication from YouTube. YouTube corporate was effectively putting a brick wall between gamers and YouTube as a whole.
This is also the main reason why you haven’t seen top gamers working with top YouTubers. While top YouTubers collaborate with each other all the time, the top gamers felt like they were being ignored by YouTube. As a result, they felt more a part of the gaming community and were dedicated to that community and not to YouTube at large. A perfect example of this is Rooster Teeth, which has a very famous series called Red vs. Blue. The series started and thrives on its own website, and Rooster Teeth continues to direct the vast majority of its community building efforts on that website, even though it has a YouTube channel in the top 100.
So, why wasn’t anyone from the gaming community allowed in the YouTube Partner Program?
There are two reasons: One, the lawsuit YouTube was involved in with Viacom. And two, the mystery surrounding how gaming content fit into the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Before the lawsuit with Viacom was thrown out, YouTube had no intention of getting into another content/fair use battle with the equally powerful companies in the gaming production and development industries. Yet, it turned out that timing was on the gaming community’s side. In late July (shortly after YouTube won the Viacom lawsuit), the federal government completed their review of DMCA law and determined using gaming content was protected under fair use.
With the legal protection in place, the gaming community was now poised to make great advances. It’s been two months since the “legalization” of the gaming community and YouTube is still figuring out how to integrate those content creators, but more than a handful of channels have been partnered and are racing up the most viewed and subscribed lists.
Recently, two entities formed to really propel the gaming world into the world of YouTube: TheGameStationTeamNoble. and Both were set up in such a way as to include a number of content creators, cross promote their content, and enhance everyone’s standing. Currently, TheGameStations has over 2.1 million subscribers across the entire network and in the past week accumulated over 20 million views.
Very recently, TheGameStations released a video pairing a top gamer with a top Youtuber in a competitive gaming video. These collaborations between the different powerhouse communities within YouTube should be encouraged, and I think we’ll start to see a LOT more of them.
An interesting side effect of this “legalization” of the gaming community is what’s happened to Machinima. With their monopoly on gaming content gone and competition and collaboration expanding at an unstoppable rate, the channel has had to transition and adapt.
Whereas before the only way to be noticed and make money off gaming was to go through their director program (which meant your video had to be uploaded to Machinima channels, which meant your channel wasn’t being promoted), now Machinima is invested into making YouTube Partners out of all their directors. It’s also striving to make sure sure those individual channels are promoted, so that they grow at an equal rate to all the non-Machinima gaming channels.
It is obvious the gaming community is just beginning to integrate into YouTube at large. With the millions of views they are accumulating, it will be no surprise to see many gaming channels entering the top subscribed and viewed of all time lists very soon. Right now, we have five with Machinima, machinimarespawn, Rooster Teeth, LikteTotallyAwesome, and IGNentertainment. I predict another five easily making it to the top of the charts before the end of the year.
The analogy I enjoy making (and members of YouTube’s guru community please forgive me), is that the gaming community right now is where the makeup community was one to two years ago. The only difference is the gaming community has five times the content creators and 50 times the audience.
[That sweet photo of Mao holding a PS2 controller is by Aaron Meyers]