VGS Channel and Site Update – August 2016

Hey everyone! It has been a while since I updated this site and have been slow to update the Youtube channel so I wanted to post this here to let you know what’s been going on and future plans for this site and the Youtube channel. Just a warning, this post is entirely site news so you’ll need to have followed the site or Youtube channel to get any value from this post 🙂

For this site, I had planned to post a little more than I have been here lately as well as compile guides and walkthroughs from the Youtube channel into posts here. I’m still planning to do this going forward. However, I have mentioned in the past that the type of content on this site will be extremely varied. As a one person operation, it is completely impossible to cover all gaming news. However, there are unique takes I have on specific issues like shopping deals and guides for specific games that I would like to write about more in depth on the site. What I’m trying to say is that the content will probably jump around quite a bit from one subject to the next on this site. One post may be an in depth guide to a specific aspect of a game followed by a general news story that I feel I can provide some interesting commentary on. The fact is a lot of content on this site will be like content when I started my Youtube channel: useful to people searching Google for specific detailed information about one topic. So, you may not get a great deal of value from reading every post on this site but I appreciate if you do!

On Youtube, I have been trying to post more videos with commentary. Unfortunately, this has massively slowed down my production of videos as shown with the recent playthrough I did of LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I do still want to do let’s play videos on the channel but I may have to balance it out a little bit more. As I mentioned above, one of the problems is the wide coverage of games on the Youtube channel. Jumping from a LEGO game to Hearthstone to a game like Mirror’s Edge can be difficult to do. I’m still trying to figure out a way to balance all of this together. One of the metrics I look at in determining whether something is working or not is the average watch time of a video on the channel. I’ve mentioned this in the past in some commentary on videos in the channel, but if a video only shows 25 views with an average watch time per view of 20 minutes, I would consider that to be a good video. Obviously, there are some videos on the channel where a lower watch time is actually a good thing (like achievement guides which I try to make quick and to the point). However, especially for let’s play videos, I do look at these watch time numbers to get an idea of what content I’m putting out is interesting and what content is not doing so well. Generally, here’s a breakdown of how some videos on the channel have performed:

Channel Update Videos/Vlogs/General Gaming News Videos: In terms of average watch time, these videos perform by far the best on the channel. I absolutely understand why these perform so well and I plan to expand on this format soon 🙂

LEGO Star Wars: TFA Videos: While the watchtime on these videos were usually above the average time for videos on the channel, they didn’t perform that well compared to the no commentary walkthroughs I did for LEGO Marvel’s Avengers. I feel a lot of the problem was I was trying to be very dry with my commentary style and combine a Let’s Play format with a walkthrough in these videos. This didn’t work well and I feel these videos just didn’t work for either a walkthrough of the game or something enjoyable to watch/listen to. Lesson learned here.

Ratchet & Clank No Commentary vs With Commentary: So, I did an interesting experiment with Ratchet & Clank. In marketing, this would be considered a ‘split test’ (though not a perfert one 🙂 ) I first uploaded my playthrough with no commentary as a walkthrough. Then, I did the New Game+ mode with commentary a couple months later as a let’s play. The versions with commentary had about double the watch time than the versions without commentary (that’s a very good thing for the versions I was talking over). There’s a few reasons for this but I think what worked well here as compared to the LEGO Star Wars playthrough was that I was knowledgeable about the game and really enjoyed playing through it and talking about it. What this shows is that viewers of the channel do prefer talking over a video with commentary as opposed to no commentary.

Enter the Gungeon Videos: These were my very first attempt with a Let’s Play format. In these videos, I rarely talked about the gameplay but talked more about gaming news/channel news. In the future, I plan to bring this style into their own individual videos instead of labelling them as a game’s let’s play. Overall, these videos did well in watch time but did poorly in total views since it was a small and oversaturated game on Youtube.

Hearthstone Arena Videos: Right now, there really isn’t enough data on these videos to draw conclusions. Some have done really well in terms of watch time while some have not. For now, I will continue uploading them from time to time. I plan to do the next expansion content for the first time with commentary which will be a sign of how Hearthstone content performs on the channel with me talking over it vs not.

First Hour of Gameplay / Gameplay videos: I have started to cut videos off sooner if there is just nothing interesting to fill an entire hour with. That’s why I have been uploading more gameplay videos that are 15-30 minutes long. I have more recently started to add commentary where appropriate to these videos. It seems these gameplay / first impression videos do MUCH better with me talking over them rather than just the raw gameplay.

Live Stream Archives: These are the archives from Youtube livestreams. These actually do perform fairly well in terms of watch time. Unfortunately, streaming to Youtube at the moment is a bit difficult for me so I’ve put on hold more streaming on Youtube for now.

Achievement Guides / Strategy Videos: Overall, these perform well with low watch time. I actually feel I succeed if a quick guide has low watch time because that means a viewer found their answer quickly (Sadly, Youtube’s algorithm does not agree)

Based on studying these analytics of what is working and what isn’t, I’ve been considering how to best proceed forward with the Youtube channel and this site. Here’s some of the ideas:

Gaming News: I follow gaming news very closely. If I feel I can offer a unique perspective on a topic, I’m planning to break it out into a video going forward (instead of for instance talking about it in an unrelated let’s play). Historically, gaming news videos have done incredibly well in terms of watch time for the channel. It will probably take some time to find the right format for this though.

Gameplay Footage/First x minutes of gameplay: I’ve really enjoyed this format and in terms of watch time, it does best with me talking over it. I’d like to make this a series but don’t have a good name for it right now. Maybe something like Let’s Look at x game, or Let’s Try x game. I’m not sure yet.

Let’s Plays: I’m still trying to figure out the best way to do this on the channel. I’ve considered a more edited format. I need to experiment more with this to see what works and what doesn’t. It’s very difficult to figure out how to balance this properly since I play a very wide variety of games and am not known for one game or even one genre. This means viewers may be interested in one game and completely uninterested in the next.

Personal Updates / Vlogs: I’m well aware I have been terrible in my own personal branding on the channel :). I’ve always been very skittish about what personal information I put out about myself. Going forward though, I will try to be a little bit more open about myself and my motivations for playing the games I play and why I make the videos that I make on the channel. One thing I have considered is a monthly update wrapping up all the games I played and completed for the month. Many times, I never give my final thoughts on a game and this might be a good format to do it without making an official review video.

Guides / Walkthroughs: This is the toughest part right now to figure out how to balance. I started up my channel to do guides and walkthroughs. I feel though that many times these can clog up the channel and annoy repeat visitors since they are very targeted to people having a specific issue in one specific game. I’ve actually considered opening a secondary channel which would just be no commentary guides and gameplay and turning the current channel into only commentary. For now, I’m going to keep putting stuff up on the current channel but we’ll see how everything goes going forward.

Live Streams: Unfortunately, Youtube’s live streaming didn’t really live up to the hype. I would still be willing to give it a shot but I am having a few issues streaming at a good quality to Youtube. I have actually considered going back to Twitch since Twitch has made some improvements to their player and VoD playback. We’ll see 🙂

Final Thoughts: I know overall the VGS Youtube channel is quite small at a little over 1,400 subscribers. However, I constantly see people grinding out great content on Youtube and struggling to reach anyone. This makes me realize that I am fortunate and should be working harder on the channel. I greatly appreciate anyone who follows what I do online and is dedicated enough to read this post 🙂

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