VO: Please welcome Keanu Reeves.
Keanu: I gotta talk to you about something.
Walking the streets of the future is really going to be breathtaking..
MAN IN THE CROWD: You’re breathtaking!!
Keanu: You are breathtaking!
You’re all breathtaking!
You guys wanna know the release date?
*in unison* Yeah!
Keanu: Yeah, then check this out!
…then check this out …
*twisted* then check this out
*ominous* then check this out
*growing in intensity* ṭ͚̣͉͇̭͋͗̑͘ͅh̴͖̫̮ë̗̯̰̅̈͌̍nͥ̿̂̽͂̅̀ ̥̥̆̾ͦcͮ͊̎̒ͥ̇҉̲͕h̻̬ͭ̓̄̽͌̂ḙ̺͖̥ͮc̞̲͓͔͑̈́ķ̦̟̱̳̯͍̃͆̇̅̓͊ ͎͈̰̔̑ͩ̓̔̄ṭ͖͎͖͎͜h̩̘͇͚͞i͞ṣ̳͞ ͙͉ͦ̂̏ͪo̟û̵̝̦̮͍͎̞͊t͎̫͖͒͑͗͋ͭ
*error message sound*
…then check this out.
(Game Theory Intro plays)
a very special episode of Game Theory apparently
Because I am sitting on the couch and in front of the camera
which means that you know today’s episode is gonna get serious.
Real business talk today ladies and gentlemen, we’re getting meta.
So, as most of you know, E3 just happened.
It is the year’s most famous or at least most infamous hype events.
“I wonder what this game would have looked like had we released it long ago”
*© E3 cringe*
Where all the biggest games get announced about half a decade before they eventually get released.
And I know a lot of us tend to get cynical about events like this, myself included.
What, with all the misleading trailers and impossible promises that get tossed around, I gotta be honest…
I really enjoy it.
It’s one of the few times that we gamers are truly able to unite
around the pure joy that this industry is capable of bringing.
Are they lying to us?
Are a lot of the games gonna be bland uninspired retreads of stuff
that we’ve seen a thousand times before?
You bet they probably are,
but they might not be.
And that my friends is what matters.
Our faith that this industry can be better.
No matter how many times we gamers have been kicked to the curb we still hold out hope right here.
Showing that, you know what, we’re not dead inside.
I’ll be honest I was pumped seeing Banjo-Kazooie make his triumphant return
I was thrilled to get my hands on new Final Fantasy 7 remake.
Heck, I even got goosebumps seeing the return of Master Chief despite not being the biggest Halo stan.
When you see how much these characters… these titles mean to people, the audience, their communities,
the huge reaction that these announcements get…
In gaming, where 95% of the year is spent ranting about
bad business practices and nitpicking new releases to death,
it’s just nice to have one week of hope…
and sarcastic retweets, but you know, mostly hope.
But, you know what, as I wandered around the show,
blissfully ignorant of the growing conference stank that was building in the hallways,
Something did leave me a little bit worried.
It actually happened while I was watching the Bethesda conference.
Bethesda, where they did a solid job of recreating that apology scene from South Park.
Hello. I’m Todd Howard.
president and CEO of Bethesda.
Fallout 76 is a tragedy that should have never happened
We’re sorry :’c
We’re sorryWe’re sorry ^_^
We’re sorry (人◕ω◕)
For the first time something occurred to me that I don’t think a lot of people are considering.
Something that legitimately threatens the games that we all know and love.
And that threat is right here…
Not this couch. YouTube.
I guess it’s outside the bounds of this video.
YouTube, without realizing it, is killing games.
It’s the reason that I think a lot of this year’s biggest titles,
like Doom Eternal are ultimately doomed to underperform.
And why literally no one is currently able to compete with Fortnite.
And unless the industry makes massive changes right now…
and I do mean right now ’cause it takes a long time to make a video game…
Fortnite is gonna remain untouchable for the foreseeable future and none of us want that.
I don’t even care if you like Fortnite, it’s just nice to have new games to look at…
But here’s the other thing in the most ironic twist of them all,
Google is actually screwing themselves over in this whole process
So, pay attention, games industry, new video game developers, Google themselves
Literally anyone who has a favorite franchise that you want to see thrive and succeed this episode is for you
I’m just gonna go over the top.
First we need to establish one thing as fact
YouTube is the Internet’s primary source for gaming content
Now, I know what you’re gonna say to me
“Now, MatPat. I hear you saying in that sweet thoughtful polite way that you always comment,
you’re just saying this because you’re a youtuber.”
And well, yes, I admit I am a youtuber and I have that bias,
the numbers don’t have that bias
Wait, why.. why am I suddenly wearing a crown?
Oh god. No, we’re not in a Raid Shadow Legend sponsor deal
We’re like the only person who said no to that thing
No, JonTron, you stay back
If I’m gonna earn that 50,000 silver, I’m gonna grind for it the way that mobile games intended me to
Let’s try this again. Shall we?
There we go
Infographic land, where I’m most comfortable
Now, while Twitch does technically earn more money off of their gaming content than YouTube does
YouTube actually has a lot more viewers of that content.
A lot more viewers
According to super data research
44% of people who are looking for online gaming content are looking for it on YouTube
Twitch is only about a third of that at 16%
The other 40% meanwhile are aggregated to basically everywhere else.
Mostly websites like IGN and Kotaku.
And, honestly, this shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise.
Gaming centric websites have taken a massive hit since the surge of YouTube over a decade ago.
We can tell based on this Google Trends data and that’s not all.
While Twitch is admittedly huge in games,
It’s still a relatively niche platform when it comes to the mainstream public.
And not only are people watching their games on YouTube,
But they’re also deciding whether or not to buy the games based on what they watch.
There have been a lot of articles about this over the last few years and back when
Our Meme Lord himself, Felix was a gamer on YouTube
This actually used to be called the PewDiePie effect.
Going way way back to my video back in.. what, 2014?
It was actually all about how trends start on YouTube and trickle out to the masses.
I actually talked about the adoption curve,
which basically describes how new stuff spreads to everyone online.
Win-large tastemaker channels cover a topic,
it then spreads out and trickles down to smaller channels looking to get suggested against them.
It then takes off from those smaller creators into the rest of the platform
and then eventually into the mainstream public.
Internet trickle-down my friends. That is how you get mainstream appeal!
One of the most well-known examples of this actually was when PewDiePie played Surgeon Simulator,
a little-known indie gem at the time that he popularized and then it went on to sell 2 million copies.
If you’re looking for any other example look no further than games like Skate 3,
which again EA had to literally reprint the game because PewDiePie had made it so popular.
Or, heck, something closer to home for this channel: Five Nights at Freddy’s
I know, I hate it too
It is everywhere or at least it seems like it’s everywhere but it’s really not.
To people outside of this YouTube bubble, outside of the walls of YouTube,
this thing is unheard of. No one’s ever heard of this game and yet here we are four years after it launched
52 games in, with like 20 books, a movie and AR spin-off and a soon to be released neural implant.
Scott Cawthon can inject obscure lore directly into your brain cells.
All of it… All of it was built on the foundation of YouTube gamers.
And these are just the small examples friends, for a big example look no further than this behemoth:
Yeah, another YouTube darling
I already did a very in-depth analysis of how YouTube made Minecraft successful,
to the point that it literally broke the systems of YouTube
So definitely check that one out, right…
I ask because it’s in reverse because the camera reverses images.
Upper right hand corner?
But the long and short of that video was basically that channels like Yogscast and SkyDoesMinecraft
were making Minecraft videos and raking in views to the tune of
31 billion views!
That is so many views!
In 2014 Minecraft was the second most searched-for term on the platform,
just behind another one you might be familiar with
Yup, it’s that popular.
And it was all based on fan made videos, this community posting a grand total of…
marketing dollars. Zero marketing dollars for all this free promotion.
And that my friends is the power of
If this was in a textbook it would be bolded to tell you got to pay attention to this word
Now, if you ever want a job in marketing or social media or heck a lot of industries attached to YouTube
This is gonna be an important concept that gets talked about a lot
So, let’s make sure that you understand it.
The three types of media:
1) Owned media
2) Paid media
and 3) Earned media
Fun fact, for about the first year of me having a job in digital video
I had to fake my way through a lot of conversations about these three concepts
cause I couldn’t tell what people were actually saying.
It always sounded like yearned media to me
And I’m like, what? Yearned media?
That makes no sense. what are you yearning for?
Anyway to make sure that you don’t have to fake it the way I did
Let’s take you through and it’s actually really simple.
Owned media is the promotion that you get off of your owned channels,
the things that you yourself possess.
Your Facebook page, your YouTube channel, your website, whatever it is.
Paid media meanwhile is the extra promotion that you get when you pay for it, when you pay people.
That’s everything from commercials on TV, to billboards along the street, to ads on websites or heck,
paying celebrities or influencers to promote your product, easy.
Owned, Paid and then finally you have Earned
Earned media is the holy grail here
It’s what you get for free when people just feel inspired to talk about and share what you’ve done
Websites and videos pitching theories about who dies in an upcoming Marvel movie?
Gee, that doesn’t relate to me at all
But that is earned media.
Youtubers playing your game online
because they like it – earned media.
Memes, cosplay, remixes – all earned media.
It is free, it is voluntary and it is authentic.
And it’s the reason that Minecraft went on to sell to Microsoft for
2.5 billion dollars
For one video game it’s insane.
I mean, it’s so much more than a video game
But still that’s that’s crazy to think about.
Earned media has been so important to Minecraft success
that at Minecon they actually teach players how to make YouTube channels
and then provide resources for managing them.
Because they understand that the popularity of the game is built on a foundation of YouTube
And now it’s happening once again with another game you might be familiar with…
While, yes, I think Twitch does get a lot of credit for the growth and expansion of Fortnite, and it should,
a lot more views are coming from people who are watching Fortnite on YouTube
183 million people on Twitch vs…
594 million views on YouTube.
That’s like five times the number
(*3.25 but who counts amirigte*)
Which means that YouTube is still making serious contributions to Fortnite’s bottom line
through billions of watch minutes of earned media.
See this is why this concept’s important.
And that is what’s made gaming on YouTube work.
It’s the power of promotion.
It’s the power of this earned media.
A new game comes out and everyone rushes to play it so they can get a lot of views
it drives billions of views as audiences circulate between all these different channels.
As a result, it drives millions of purchases of the game in question
and thousands of dollars to those creators for promoting the game.
It’s a system where everyone wins.
YouTube makes a lot of money off of those views,
Creators make a lot of money off of their videos,
and game publishers make a lot of money off of the sales of their game.
Or at least that’s how it used to work.
In the last year the game has changed.
Pun definitely intended.
And now devs are facing their greatest challenge yet.
It’s not frame rates, it’s not DLC, not micro transaction regulation
It’s brand safety.
It’s like a cursed word around here.
Gotta watch out when you say it.
As we all know the brand safety standards on YouTube have changed a lot over the last two years
And one of the categories that advertisers have a particular interest in is us.
Even as recent as this year where companies like AT&T are still talking openly
about how they are avoiding gaming content because it is too… fringe.
I mean gaming is the most popular entertainment medium in the world
So if this is fringe, I guess we’re all living in it.
But I get it, it’s difficult to understand and it does have a history of potentially being edgy or risqué.
Again, kind of hilarious considering that
twenty years ago
It was just a bunch of people arguing over who was better: a red plumber or a blue hedgehog.
Sooo edgy guys.
wooo brand unsafe.
But concerns like this got YouTube to respond.
Which, you can’t really blame them for, honestly.
They’re a company, they want to stay profitable, they pay out millions of people around the world
they have to make their clients happy and we pretty much all know what came out of that one though…
monetization my friends!
YouTube’s AI system scans thumbnails, it reads text, it analyzes images
and ultimately demonetizes games
that are considered violent,
including anything that involves visible blood or gore.
Anything that involves fire and explosives in thumbnails and anything that be considered racy or suggestive.
Including Luigi holding an eggplant.
Which you’ll notice has had to have been removed strategically from one of our previous videos.
It also flags videos for profanity.
Including profanity that’s beeped out since it can now detect those sensor beeps.
If you hop into Google Ads where all the advertisers are spending their money,
you’ll actually see that they’ve created content categories that outline all this.
With focus on blood and gore in video games being available to only the broadest types of ads
Profanity at the beginning of the video? Same thing – only that first caliber, which is basically anything goes
And just to round out the offering, gaming is the only content category that has a separate opt-out checkbox
There it is, ladies and gentlemen, that is why gaming is so hard to monetize on YouTube
So why do I bring all of this stuff up?
Well if you look across E3’s lineup almost every single title, except for some of the Nintendo titles
violates these brand safety guidelines.
Doom Eternal? Big ol’ check mark there.
Call of Duty? Yeah, people are getting shot and bloody there.
The Division? Ghost Recon? Watch_dogs?
Check, check and check
Like the most popular game at E3 this year?
They couldn’t even show it on the E3 YouTube livestream without censoring it.
Just watch it
*lots of potty mouth, bleeped profanity*
They’re censoring like every third word and this is brought to you by YouTube
So what happens when you, уσυтυвє_gαмєя_χχ_ѕєρнιяσтн_ℓσνєя_χχ
decide to stream the latest new release from your favorite triple-A developer?
First you’re likely getting yourself demonetized from the outset
because your game contains graphic violence, or suggestive activity, or heck just simply bad language.
So that’s already a non-starter
But if you somehow managed to thread that needle and make it all the way past the advertiser filters
and stay greenlit long enough to set your video live on the platform
Now you’re just contending with the less talked about YouTube content ratings system
Oh, yeah, that’s a real thing.
Other channels have talked about this so we’re not breaking any new territory here
But YouTube has a separate content rating system like you do with movies
It groups your content into specific maturity levels
based on the same kinds of things that we talked about on the advertiser side:
violence, language, etc,
nd it will actively limit the viewership of your video to only the audience’s where it’s appropriate.
Makes sense but again if you’re covering mature stuff,
fewer and fewer people are gonna watch
what you’re doing
So think about what this has to do with all of these games that you love.
Sure Doom was a huge success in 2016
The times have changed.
So Doom Eternal launches later this year.
It is one of the biggest games of 2019, right?
But it’s a game that glorifies violence meaning that it’s gonna hit all of these flags.
If youtubers get demonetized well they’re gonna be much less likely to cover that game
And that’s on top of the already limited visibility that those videos are gonna get
just by the nature of them covering mature content
Gotta make sure that little Timmy isn’t exposed to gamers ripping the heads off of heck demons.
It’s the brand friendly term for the enemies in doom.
All of this throws off this adoption curve that we covered at the top of the episode right?
The game might not even be able to get enough momentum to crest that first hill
because there’s just not enough people watching,
consuming and making more videos about the game in the first place.
All that earned media which would have been huge in 2016 just disappears.
It is just reduced
It has been snapped away by Thanos.
Owned, earned, paid media? That circle right there?
Just gone. Flat-out. Kill it off. Slice it
I mean nowadays that owned piece of media there would actually be a little bit higher
because now people actually care about the franchise again and are actively following the latest Doom release
So this disappearance of earned media has actually been counterbalanced a little bit but not enough.
It’s gone. It’s been halved effectively, it’s crazy.
And now all you got is marketing dollars to help promote your game.
That is for practically every single title that you see announced at E3 this year.
Think about it on flipside though too –
what’s one game that has gun violence, but was somehow able to keep it largely family-friendly
Fortnite has about as much violence as a typical episode of Tom & Jerry.
No blood, no suggestive content, no strong language.
The only hip thrusting in this game is from incorrectly doing the floss
The more brand friendly games like Minecraft and Roblox are the only ones that are able to keep pace
which go figure are also the other two massively successful games on YouTube right now
They stay at the top of YouTube gaming leaderboards
because of their broad appeal and their ability to play nice with the new system.
And no one has a chance to compete.
And while this is jUsT a ThEoRy
It’s one that we’re actively seeing play out right now as we speak.
Take for instance Mortal Kombat 11
First of all there was a new Mortal Kombat game that came out last spring.
Were you aware of this?
Judging by the sales numbers you weren’t.
What was anticipated to be a wild success for this franchise a return to form
failed almost immediately out of the gate.
Resulting in the game getting a $10 cost reduction a day after it had been released one
I mean sure the press in the headlines say that this was the most successful launch in the series’s history
but are you gonna believe that?
You’re gonna believe that a game company is gonna drop their price by 15% if something is doing well
Anyway obviously a lot of different things goes into video game sales
beyond people just playing it on YouTube.
And people were unhappy with Mortal Kombat 11’s mechanics, character designs, plot, things like that,
but one thing that can’t be denied
Is that Mortal Kombat videos here on YouTube are just hard to find
I mean I covered the game in the past and I couldn’t find it.
I watch mature content and it wasn’t served to me
Story started to surface about Mortal Kombat players ending up on the ouch-y side of YouTube’s banhammer
Newsweek recently covered a gamer named Maximilian Dood,
who’s played Mortal Kombats 9, 10 and 11 with over 500 total videos here on YouTube about those games
when he tried to cover the new Mortal Kombat last April though he reports that quote:
“between 85 and 90% of his videos were demonetized and/or pooooooop
So what happens when you try to cover a game
and then it just gets filtered out of search and suggested video feeds?
And is also demonetized?
You either play it just because you love it or you don’t
You move on to the next title and most people quite frankly aren’t gonna waste their time
Online influencers don’t play the game
As a result, audiences aren’t aware of the game in the first place
The game then doesn’t sell as well as it used to and prices get dropped quickly to try and save face
Hopefully trying to sustain that franchise for yet another installment
But if the game doesn’t sell they’re like well that franchise is done
Boop, snap it out of existence
And all of this is a bummer because to me Mortal Kombat 11’s fatalities are just really fun
Which I would show you behind me on this big green screen,
but again, I can’t. No theory episode will happen on that topic because I can’t do it, it’s too mature.
You see how this all starts working together?
Cause based on the release calendar I don’t think the games industry does.
The success or failure of a game now more than ever is dependent not on a developer,
not on gameplay, not even on the player.
It’s dictated by a platform.
Or more specifically a massive AI babysitter who has a real issue with potty mouths
When players can’t monetize their content and it’s in from viewers
They don’t play the games.
With no videos on the games, the developer gets no earned media.
No free marketing for that game
So unless you just have a die-hard fan base or a lot of money to burn on advertising
your game is crippled under the weight of YouTube.
Well as one last little ironic twist here that I just kind of find funny in case you weren’t aware,
Google announced that they’re getting into the gaming business
I would know because I was actually there on stage at the Stadia announcement
expressing my support for all the cool new opportunities and accessibility
that this sort of technology can make available.
How they decide to implement it though is gonna be another thing.
But in theory there’s a lot of really cool stuff that can come out of something like this
Anyway, that’s not the point of this video
The point is that this is a platform all about integrating gaming with YouTube
Place where you watch meets the place where you play.
That makes a lot of sense, right?
Except when you start looking at the biggest names to be confirmed to be partnered with Stadia.
Doom, Mortal Kombat, the Ubisoft library including the Assassin’s Creed games.
Guys, they have assassin in the title
Oh, and then there’s Just Dance
a game that gets you immediately copyright claimed if you ever try to play it on YouTube.
Winners all around.
So the major launch titles for Stadia, a platform specifically built to facilitate youtubers playing games
and interacting with their audiences are all games that YouTube itself is demonetizing
and actively throttling on the system.
Guys, I can’t do everyone’s job around here
So YouTube on the one hand is like we’re not gonna promote violent video games.
Which hey, that’s okay I totally get why you want to do that
It’s your platform you do you
But then Big Papa Google over here is like we’re launching a big gaming platform
under the banner of a bunch of extremely mature games.
And everyone’s gonna watch them over on our other product YouTube.
So like guys someone… someone needs to get together in a boardroom here and talk it out
because right now you are fighting against yourself.
Seriously, unless YouTube eases up on violence and profanity
which advertisers aren’t gonna really like
or Stadia clinches a Fortnite deal
which again I don’t think Epic wants to support a big competitor of theirs
I think everyone’s gonna be in for a rude awakening.
And as a result since the system isn’t gonna change in a while,
it might be time to get Keanu Reaves back into the recording booth
to get a few more takes of heckkin’ and frickin’ before the final release of Cyberpunk
Maybe Doom’s demons can spray candy out of their necks?
I don’t know not a game designer.
Anyway, that is just a theory!
A Game Theory!
Thanks for watching…
…provided this stays brand safe