Recently four gaming industry leaders gathered in San Francisco to talk about a major trend in gaming: gamers producing and watching each other’s game videos, and the impact it’s having on their business strategies. The panel was hosted by Newzoo International’s CEO, Peter Warman, and inspired by Newzoo’s whitepaper: Consumer as Producer: How Games and Video Converge to Drive Growth sponsored by Limelight Networks.
Watching the 54 minute panel which featured a lively discussion, I gleaned some possible answers to challenges we posed in the initial Consumer as Producer blog.
1) How do you get the cooperation of creative consumers in building your game brand?
2) How do you share and protect your IP at the same time?
3) What is the role of the emerging “game audience” - viewers who love game videos and aren’t necessarily playing or buying the game?
The panelists included a game developer COO, an Esports team CEO, the COO of Twitch, and CEO of Game Theorists, a video subscription channel on Youtube with over 5 million subscribers.
COO Kristian Segerstrale describes SuperEvil MegaCorp as a game developer, that embraces all three challenges. Videos and viewership are so important that it tracks total viewers on Twitch and Youtube as a company metric. (The number has grown from .5M to 1.5M in less than a year). The company actively promotes player stars on Youtube, and just embarked on its first Esports tournament for VainGlory, not worrying about the fact the prize is only $30K. Even more revolutionary - the reality of video watching is helping to drive the design of their game. The company wants ipad-playable VainGlory to be understandable for casual viewers after just a few minutes of watching, like basketball. On the IP front, what happens when avid fans “borrow” game art to create a cool t-shirt or video? You might think a team of lawyers would be dispatched, but instead engineers don them proudly and share pictures wearing them.
Wouter Sleijffers is CEO of Fnatic, one of the world’s top professional gaming teams notes that video is a major means of communicating with their fans, and building the team brand. In fact, the team encourages the fans to create and build out the brand by making their own videos. Sleiffers commented “there is an amazing amount of demand out there for game play footage”.
So who’s watching all this besides avid game players?
Both Game Theorist, a subscription-based Youtube video company owned by Matthew Patrick, and Twitch, represented by co-founder Kevin Lin, weighed in about the reality of the “game viewing” audience which now lurks just beyond the realm of marketers, watching but not buying games. Patrick says it’s real, and points out some games have had viewing audiences that are 3-4 times larger than their player base. Matthew’s company, Game Theorist, now has 5 million followers and 113 videos on itsYoutube channel. He explains video is helping enable the development of lifestyle brands built on game environments and characters. Building a brand around a game used to take 30 years - now it takes a matter of months. For Twitch also, watchers are now seen as part of the game, not just the players.
The existence of a larger game viewing audience opens up all kinds of growth opportunities for the industry. It could lead to a range of monetization strategies employed by other forms of entertainment, from syndicated content to merchandise. But profiting from it it will depend on how willing the game industry is to nurture this whole new one-to-many relationship, and perhaps, create new content just for this audience.
So listening to these industry leaders, I’m going to offer some possible answers:
1) How do you get the cooperation of creative consumers in building your game brand? Possible answer: treat them fairly and the rest will sort itself out.
2) How do you share and protect your IP at the same time? Possible answer: you don’t always do both.
3) What is the role of the emerging “game audience” - viewers who love game videos and aren’t necessarily playing or buying the game? Possible answer: first you have to recognize its there and decide what you want to create for it. And you might consider making your game easy to understand for casual viewers a part of your strategy.
What do you think? Are you an industry watcher or game publisher looking at how to incorporate the gamer video phenomenon into your strategy? We’d love to hear from you here at Limelight. Meanwhile, to all you gamers out there, we hope you capture your next epic moment in video and
To watch the whole discussion, check out Casual Connect’s channel on Youtube.