Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

The unstoppable rise of gaming videos

Something has changed for me in the last six months or so. A year ago, if a new game came out that piqued my interest, I would probably check out some screenshots, then read a review, (probably several), perhaps read gamers comments on forums, and maybe, if one was available, I’d try a demo of the game, before purchasing.

Now things have changed, youtube is my #1 source for evaluating the possibility of me liking a game.

I probably *hear* about the game at Rock Paper Shotgun or some other gaming site. I might hear about it first on a forum, but now I tend to not bother reading reviews until I’ve checked out a gameplay video. (reviews are good for getting a big-picture description of the entire game)

I *like* this development in the industry, because there is nowhere for the cynical marketing crap to hide…

Demos are sometimes just one slice (the best!) of a game, come out long after release, and are a huge pain to download these days, if you live in the country with a usage cap.
Screenshots are invariably bullshit. They are touched up by artists. They have zero relationship to the game you will buy. (They are called ‘target renders’ in the industry). (All my games screenshots are 100% honest simple screen dumps. This is actually rare.)

Reviews, which contrary to belief are generally not ‘bought’ or corrupt, are nevertheless seen through the prism of that reviewers opinions and experiences. A reviewer always brings their own genre tastes and personal pet peeves with them, they can’t avoid it. if I reviewed games, I’#d mark down everything with unskippable cut scenes, macho protagonists or elves with enormous breasts, but that is probably just me..

Youtube gameplay videos are wonderful. The most handy are not official trailers, or posted by big name sites. The best ones are just some random dude who played the game with fraps running and clicked on upload. That is the sort of experience I as a gamer will get, and that is exactly what I want to see. I probably know if I want to read a review within 10 seconds of video these days.

Am I alone in this?

10 thoughts on The unstoppable rise of gaming videos

  1. I feel the same way! If I want to know how a game is to play, the best way to me is to watch someone play it – I don’t have to spend ages waiting for a demo to download and install, while still getting a decent impression of the game.

  2. And with this rise, you have some “stars” of the gameplay video emerging, like Total Biscuit and others.

    First impressions of the game, directly in a video, and usually with a fun commentary going with.

    But it’s a bit like with reviews, in this case. You have to find the one which has tastes matching to yours, and which you like actually reading/watching. Because while it does show the game, you will most likely be influenced by their enthusiasm or boredom, even if you are here only to see the game demonstrated.

  3. Usually I find a video of a game on YouTube that I have never even heard of. Then decide I want to buy it. Many thanks to TotalHalibut.

  4. Same here ! Before I was testing out the demos, reading reviews, and so forth. Now, what I do is this :

    I hear a name somewhere. I check the screenshots. Then I check a lp on youtube (Let’s play). I usually watch skipping some time if it’s to lengthy to be able to have an idea of how the game is played. Then I watch some funny review (yeah, TotalBiscuit again!), and only after that, I may or may not buy it.

    I guess that’s it is what we are going with youtube : get away from the craps of marketing

  5. I’ve been doing this for a few years now. It’s also a good way to answer friends when they ask about how some decade-old game on the PSY was.

  6. I do exactly the same. First I hear of a game, then I go on the Youtube and maybe watch a trailer or two. Then I think to myself: “Ok now how this game REALLY looks like.” and I search for REAL gameplay videos which show the game as they really are.

    After that if I get interested I may read some reviews to make sure the game is worth my money and then buy it.

    You’re not alone with this at all. Marketing nowadays is so much cheating, lying and showing pre-rendered footage that it is so sickening. Thankfully there area real persons who upload real gameplay footage to youtube so you can really see how the game really works and looks.

    Yes, those real gameplay footage videos may not be as pretty and selling as pre-rendered and edited videoclips but… that’s what the game really is and that’s what I’m really going to play. I’m not going to play those pre-rendered and edited videoclips, I’m going to play the raw game as it is shown on those gameplay videos and that’s the experience I’m going to get and see as I play the game myself.

    That’s the fact and truth.

  7. You’re not alone but game reviewers on all major sites are part of the PR machine. They don’t have to be corrupted directly because those sites just hire those who are true believers and will just eat anything the industry puts out no matter how bad.

    Lets take a big name release: Starcraft 2. Starcraft 2 was probably one of the biggest letdowns in gaming history in terms of unrealized potential to move RTS genre forward but the “true believers” give it a pass. SC2 is just starcraft 1 with a few new units and a butchered story that craps on the spirit of SC1.

    Just look at gamescores, gamescores on metacritic. How is it that most games get 70 or above? It’s not that review scores don’t matter it’s that the PR/hype machine is so well integrated. On the internet you also can’t know for sure whether the people giving out excess scores are fake (which I’m sure many of them are) or are just stupid kiddies.

    A good rule of thumb is to look at metacritic and take off 10% off it’s score with exceptions to the rule like a few big name games.

    The industry in trying to appeal to everyone is moving away from gameplay and towards cinematic experiences rendered on a computer with minimal input from players.

  8. Let’s Play’s are some of my favorite things to watch on YouTube. They can be just as good (or better!) than playing the game yourself. Actually, the biggest problem is often that after watching an episode or two, I just want to start playing the game myself. Watching someone else play makes me like the game that much more. Maybe it’s seeing a different strategy or learning a new trick, or maybe it’s just the fact that LP’s tend to present a strong narrative to the gameplay that makes it so interesting.

    In fact, I find that making my own LP videos allows me to enjoy games far more, as I’m forced to be a little more thoughtful in my actions and also work to build a narrative for my viewers.

  9. I’m mostly on the same page, i rarely consider reviews, normally I’ve decided if I would or not buy a game, long before it’s released and the reviews at most can sway me to not buy it. And in the rare ocasions where I don’t know a game before release I check the gameplay videos first.

    They’re simply the most honest impression of a game, and while I understand that a game isn’t meant for viewing (which I always keep in mind) I still trust them more than demos.

    Trailers for me are now mostly eye candy, unless they’re for a game I’m eagerly expecting (I drooled over and rewatched Portal 2 trailers for months after they came out), especially since nowaydays a lot of trailers seem to be prerendered cinematics with scraps of gameplay (if any at all).

  10. I was right with you up until you started marking down Elves With Enormous Breasts.

    There, my friend, is where we part ways. 8^)

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