Surveyed Gaming Industry Members Trust Youtubers Over Press


In an interesting turn of events, a recent survey published by the organizers of Game Developers Conference Next (GDC Next) shows that out of 339 surveyed members of the gaming industry, said industry members trust the opinion and insights of Youtubers over traditional press or media.

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To get a bit more context, members of the gaming industry were asked about the best avenue for publicity for their games to drive the biggest revenue boost first. 36.6% felt that being featured on a digital storefront (Steam, PSN) was the best way, with “being featured in a video on a very popular YouTube personality’s channel” being the second most popular choice at 24.8%. Community engagement (15.6%) was third, and being featured on a very popular video game website (14.5%) was fourth. 

That revelation led to the main question, one that I find most intriguing, asked of creators in the gaming industry; “Whose opinion do you trust most for insights on games – Youtubers or traditional press/media?” Of the 339 polled, 55.8%  who responded said Youtubers’ insights on games were more trusted than traditional press/media.

The survey could not come at a more contentious time, as the efforts, debate and general noise of GamerGate just starts to fade. It should be noted that those surveyed were asked about the opinions of the insights of Youtubers and press, not if ethically they were thought to be trustworthy. It’s a clear distinction to make, as ethical quandaries surround both Youtubers and the traditional gaming press, as of late.

It also marks an excellent discussion point, one worth having with consumers, industry members and the press alike; what makes a Youtuber necessarily more trustworthy when it comes to gaming opinions over the gaming press?

My theory is that it has to do more with the fact that the gaming press has been around for a lot longer than the contemporary Let’s Play realm has, and includes a great deal more required co-operation with representatives of the gaming industry than in Youtube. When you have gaming conferences that involve members of the gaming press, run by gaming companies, that provided swag bags and handouts to members of the media covering their games, the optics of the situation have a greater chance of being viewed unfavorably for readers of these press sites/magazines.

Additionally, a great deal of what Youtubers bring to the table is unbridled and palpable enthusiasm. Most Youtube gaming channels operate in a very small team. Sometimes, it’s just them hacking it out in the entertainment world. Most of their output is playing games, telling stories and making their fans laugh and enjoy themselves through their gameplay. Some do reviews, but for the most part it seems that enjoying and playing a video game is the main objective of their content. When you rank that up against members of the media who mostly adhere to guidelines of their site and are scrutinized editorially, it’s a lot more difficult to be as openly enthusiastic. Plus, with members of the media’s scores affecting the bonuses of the studios that they cover, there is a lot more on the line for these critical reviews.

However, as Youtubers themselves become part of the marketing machine for the gaming industry (just like when Toby “Tobuscus” Turner co-hosted Ubisoft’s E3 media briefing in the past), one wonders if consumers will start to question the professional interests of their favorite Youtubers over time. Jeff Gerstmann was fired from GameSpot over his Kane & Lynch: Dead Man review just 6 months after Youtube even allowed 480p videos on their site! The blurred line between entertainment and paid promotion is something Let’s Players will just have to try to avoid as the medium grows out of its infancy stage.

Make sure to read the rest of the survey, as it covers some other interesting subjects, including thoughts by members of the gaming industry on digital marketing.

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