According to a YouTube Audience Analysis of Q3 2012, 95% of gamers turn to YouTube for gaming information and entertainment. Not only that, but in 2012, the amount of time people spent watching gaming videos on YouTube more than doubled over the year before. Much of this growth was due to increased viewership via mobile devices, as one in three views of gaming-related videos occurred on a tablet or smartphone.
Your audience is online, consuming hundreds of hours of video gaming content; you just have to tailor your marketing strategy accordingly. As an example, we’ll look at Rockstar Games’ video marketing for Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V).
Step 1: Release an announcement video that gives viewers a first look at the game (typically 1-3 minutes long). In a Whitepaper entitled, “Gamers on YouTube: Evolving Video Consumption,” Google found that gamers view different types of content as they move through the purchase funnel. Pre-release, fans mostly watched content from the brand, such as announcements, gameplay demos, and launch videos. According to a 2011 report from Ipsos MediaCT, 92% of gamers research a title before buying, and brand-released game video is the most influential piece of publisher content.
GTA V was released on September 17, 2013. Rockstar uploaded the game’s first trailer (below) on November 2, 2011. Take note; it is never too early to start building up excitement over a video game release.
This trailer earned almost 40 million YouTube views and 1.2 million social shares. A year later, Rockstar released another trailer that racked up 21.9 million YouTube views. The company included a call-to-action in the “about” section and urged viewers to pre-order the game on its website.
Step 2: Create a Gameplay Demo; this gives viewers an inside look at the game mechanics and is often debuted at E3 (5-15 minutes long). Google found that these initial videos drive the most engagement—in 2012, highly anticipated moments like the announce, the initial view of gameplay, and the review of a game had the most shares and comments per view.
Rockstar uploaded the first official gameplay video in July 2013, two months before GTA V hit stores. It generated 31.2 million YouTube views and 878,000 social shares. In this case, GTA V saw more engagement with its first teaser trailer which still indicates significant excitement and anticipation around the game’s release.
Pre-launch videos are extremely valuabale in terms of viewership: “In examining the timing of views from the first announcement video to four months after launch, we learned that 60% of views happened before launch, on average. Of those pre-launch views, nine in ten came from brand-released videos, indicating that game publishers play a critical role in driving views before release.”
Step 3: The Launch video—remind viewers that the game will soon be on sale (1-3 minutes long). Less than a month before the release of GTA V, Rockstar put out “The Official Trailer” to encourage viewers to pre-order the game or seek it out in stores on September 17.
Step 4: Game Powered Entertainment. This is community-created content, funny videos and parodies typically less than five minutes long. Unexpectedly, the Monday before the worldwide launch of GTA V, a number of game copies ended up the hands of consumers who decided to broadcast the game on Twitch, a video platform and community for gamers.
However, instead of shutting the entire thing down, Rockstar allowed consumers to stream gameplay footage as long as they played in Free Roam mode so as not to give away the story early. Twitch reports that almost 1,000 broadcasters went live on its site and attracted more than 850,000 unique viewers. On GTA V’s launch date, 2,500 people broadcast GTA V which quickly became the #1 game viewed on Twitch.
These broadcasters not only helped to build anticipation before GTA V’s release, but also kept the excitement alive after the game hit stores.
Step 5 covers an array of video content users will upload to YouTube including game walkthroughs, tutorials and reviews. After people have purchased a game, they shift their attention to advancing through it and engaging with that game’s community.
If you type “GTA V” into YouTube’s search bar, the page is filled with user-generated videos, many of which boast millions of views.
“Looking at the lifecycle of a game from pre-launch to post-launch, community-created videos effectively doubled the amount of views the top selling games would have received through brand-released content alone,” states Google’s Whitepaper.
Results: Google found an extremely strong correlation between pre-launch video views and game sales within the first four months after the release. Research also revealed that 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.
The millions of video views GTA V racked up before its release translated into $1 billion in sales within its first three days. As of this week, GTA V has shipped 33 million copies.
This is just one of many success stories video game companies have had with online video marketing. Video gamers are hungry for gaming content—this hunger can be seen in the sky-high view counts of game-related videos and subscriptions to gaming channels. In fact, subscriptions across YouTube’s hundreds of video game channels tripled in 2013 from 2012, according to Erica Larson, head of industry, media and entertainment-gaming at YouTube.
Online video is an essential marketing tool for video game companies looking to build anticipation and excitement around a new game release. Not only will gaming videos engage your target markets, but they will also drive interest and ultimately sales for your company.