Now, the cool guys that run under the name of The Game Theorists have put together a solid episode where they teach you how PieDiePie become successful and how you can be too if you play by the new YouTube rules - coz YouTube is a game in itself after all.
Transcribed Audio: Game Theory
[IA] – Inaudible
Gather round all you bros and non-bros as I tell you the secrets to becoming the world’s most popular gamer.
Hello internet, welcome to game theory, played amnesia, didn’t scream.
Meet Felix Arvid Ulf Kjell…, I don’t know how you pronounce this it is Swedish. Dear Sweden, don’t put Ks and Js together unless you expect me to understand the sound my mouth supposed to make ok because you language is…Am I right guys?
Meet PewDiePie, a 24 year old gamer, who in about 30 days will overtake Smosh to become the number one most subscribed channel on YouTube. Love his videos or hate them there is no denying that he is the world’s most famous gamer but he is not alone.
Gaming channels are quickly dominating the YouTube lists currently they take up 16 of the top 100 subscribed channels on YouTube which might not seems like much at first but when you eliminate the 18 Vevo channels up there, you know, the music channels with the obnoxious backgrounds that are always telling you about the lamest Britney Spears songs.
Sorry Britney! Oh la la does not rhyme with the words stop and knock out the 20 or so that belong to large companies like the NBA, Red Bull and YouTube which currently ranks at number 11 on its own website, you see just how powerful gamers on YouTube really are.
And of those 16 the vast majority simply feature people playing and commenting on games, none of this flash animating Photoshop foo foo over analysis stuff channels like to do, wait that what we…
In return YouTube is making everyday gamers into online celebrities millionaires with PewDiePie leading the charge gaining 1.5 million subscribers in the last 30 days and 212 million views. Pews numbers are staggering when you consider Smosh the current number 1 channel gets less than half of that.
He even crushes Machinima and their [IA]. So what’s the secret of this type of exponential growth on YouTube, how did this sandy hair Swed do it? I’m not sure if he knows the real answer but I do and by the end of this episode, so will you.
To truly understand how gaming has really taken over YouTube we have to look way back at 2005 at the birth of YouTube. You see back in the dark ages no one know how this cookie online video experiment would work and the heads of YouTube had one big problem. When anyone can upload anything how can you make good stuff easier to find? Well one option was the front page of anything involving cats, the other was to make that decision with clicks aka views.
To them, or rather the agent Smiths working inside YouTube algorithms, more views meant better content and thus deserve more promotions and in a lot of ways it worked with creative, funny, shareable videos getting hundreds of thousands of views. This in turn, got them more free promotions on YouTube and videos went viral but when the glowing spirits of illusion guy has taught us anything is that when there is a way to cheat a system people will do it.
Realizing the the human male is just a [IA] horn dog, people started to use, well let’s just called them misleading thumbnails. People will click on a thumbnail to learn how to cook this vegetarian curry or see how well this girl is going to handle the [IA] but would be confront with not expert cooking tips but a video that makes you turn down the brightness on your monitor and turn away the screen from your mother you is sitting on the couch opposite you watching the bachelor.
In other words, the video wasn’t meeting what it was expecting and people would leave in the first few seconds but it didn’t matter the videos already had the clicks and in YouTube eyes it meant that it deserved more visibility leading Scotty the [IA] here to getting 18 million views of his misleading thumbnail, needing less to say that YouTube quickly learn that there was a glitch in the system.
Fast forward to March of last year when with the flick of a switch YouTube changed everything; they realized that hey if a guy clicks on a picture of vegetarian curry and meets a bunch of boobs chances are he is not going to like that video and click off. So instead of views the more important factor became retention time, where more people watching most of the video and more importantly there were videos enticing them to watch more.
YouTube wanted people to watch for longer and longer sessions and channels that encourage this got more and more free promotions and that open theorist open the door for gaming’s domination. What YouTube algorithm shift has to do with PewDiePie or gaming in general, think about [IA], the husky star craft, the [IA], game grumps and of course the PewDiePie of the world, unlike most other content let’s play videos where the editing is minimal and most of the talk is improvised reactions are able to be produced much faster that let’s say the well-researched, heavily scripted show.
There is only significant amount of editing that can be done every week and not only are their constantly new videos but there are 10, 15, 20 minutes long. Wrap your head around this, a recent study shows that the tops 221 channels on YouTube found that the average comedy video last for three minutes and 25 seconds, gaming videos on the other hand lock in on an average of 9 minutes and 36 seconds.
Add that to the fact the average non-gaming channels host about 1-2 videos per week. Top gaming channels upload about 8 or more, and while day people might tune in for their once a day fix, most viewers [IA], they tune in at the end of the week during their little red hood sesh to listen to the eight new uploads they missed. Plus since you’re watch for [IA] there is a series of videos that encourage to watch from one to the next to the next in the serialized format.
Remember it is watch time across the whole viewing session and let’s play channels are perfectly designed to play to have you watch long videos for long stretches while you do other stuff. So assume for a second that you are PieDiePew a year ago or Lady Gaga and you have a million subs, every new video you upload reaches 500,000 views in a few days and assuming that each one is about 15 minutes and every viewer watches about two videos per session, by the end of the week you have 7 uploads by 500,000 views times 7 days times two videos per view session times 15 minutes equals 105 million minutes of watch time each week.
That is merely 200 million years of watch time every 7 days. YouTube is like wow this channel gets a lot of watch time, let’s promote it even more which in turn gives it more subscribers, more views and even more watch time prompting YouTube to give it more promotion again.
It is a perpetual never ending loop of growth, compare that to other channels that uploads shorter videos once a week like Smosh for instance and you see how the barren of growth is just been able to roll over everyone in its path. In fact it is pretty much like rolling a bolder up a hill, it reaches a certain point and the YouTube machine takes care of the channel and Pewds in gaining more and more momentum simply by uploading new videos.
But why this let’s play channel when there is 1000s out there?
Well there is one other reason why the algorithms love PewDiePie, he is international, and you see YouTube promotes channels locally. If you live in California, you videos will be served up in California more than any other state in the USA and if you live in the US your videos will stay in the US until you gather enough views from other countries to merit you sharing your stuff there.
PewDiePie has a unique advantage over most other channels because YouTube considered his channel Swedish since he started it since he was living in Sweden. Since then he’s moved, meaning that he lives and uploads from Italy but he also speaks English, so since YouTube promotes locally, he was able to gather a solid Swedish following in a market where there was less competition but now that he uploads from Italy, he gets promoted there and since YouTube is most used heavily in English speaking nations, he had a much easier time crossing into the US and UK than a channel from here would have doing the reverse.
In short by moving he was able to conquer viewers from all around the world to add to his fan base which in turn all fit back into the retention loop prompting YouTube to sky rocket his channel in multiple countries to the top of the charts.
Now none of this was meant to downplay anything he does. People love his videos, if they didn’t no amount of algorithm help would save the channel and in fact he is a great guy, constantly raising awareness and money for charities. Even now he raises money for a clean water initiative.
Likewise his fan base definitely does their fair share of promoting his content but in the end growth like his would be impossible without a system working in the background and if you are sitting there with one lingering question and that lingering question is, why is this an episode on game theory?
Remember YouTube is made up of the same hearts as the latest XBOX or whether it is misleading thumbnails or carving retention based algorithms, YouTube in essence is a big game, a strategy game that comes with its own rules, tricks and shortcuts and those people who play by the rules or more importantly know the best way to use those rules to their advantages, those are the ones that end up on top of the leader-board.
A lot of life is like that actually so think about that and think about joining my team and help me in my questing to win the game of YouTube. Subscribe if you haven’t and watch a few more videos because I have ways to go on how to catch that guy.
Stay awesome theorist I know you will, here comes the theorist fist, never mind that just sounds dirty. Anyway it is just a theory, a game theory. Thanks for watching!
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