I think this deserves special mention because of how much of a game changer this form of marketing can be. I suppose we should technically consider this a consumer promotion style of advertising, but nonetheless it's the concept of endorsing a YouTube channel owner to review or play your videogame.
Marketing Through YouTubers
This is hands down one of the best methods of introducing your new title to the gaming community. The majority of gamers are connected with at least the larger game channels and frequent their videos of reviews and even full playthroughs! Here's some rough numbers of why I'm saying this is an incredible use of your limited marketing budget.
The kind of channel you want to go for is one that generally accrues 100,000 views on one of their videos. At this threshold, they will be still working for your standard YouTube advertisers and receiving the regular pay being a YouTube Partner yields. Channels at this size are going to be very approachable and allow for you to connect with them directly to create some sort of deal. It would be completely within reason to pay $250 per video made and commission four 20-minute game play videos.
even if only .5% of the viewers go forward and purchase your game for $30 on Steam (you earn only $20)
You have earned $40,000 in revenue
No this is not a "get rich quick article". I'm simply showing the ROI on a basic initiative like this
Why This Works
When you look deeper at this platform you'll find something truly amazing that you often can't find somewhere else. YouTuber's have created a unique rapport with their audience that enables viewers to trust their opinion. As a big gamer myself, I often find myself at a loss with who to trust when deciding if a new game has potential. In finding a variety of YouTubers who regularly put out content for games they've found or been sponsored to play, I trust their genuine reaction to a game when they say "this is fun" or "this is just plain stupid".
What's more, users are actively and purposely seeking out these videos for entertainment. I rarely find the opportunity to advertise and create engagement with my target audience in a place where they have actively sought out the material I'm giving them. This being said, one can't just drop the game into the hands of a YouTuber and expect massive return if you don't design a system around it.
The Full Strategy
I've found it really has more to do with how you provide structure around the YouTuber and their experience. If you just hand over the game without any discussion as to how the review will look you're going to be sorely disappointed with the results. The aim is for you to create excitement and engagement for the YouTuber so when they are recording a video of them engaging with your game, they are actually having fun with the will to accomplish the game's objectives and course.
Here's how I've designed the system in the past.
1. Give incentives to the YouTuber for varying levels of performance. If they are able to complete a level with a specific score or in a specific time frame, they will be forced to invest extra effort into their game play. Visitors will see them engaged and challenged by your game (worth more than gold). Even consider creating a leader board competition for a few YouTubers and the one with the best performance or score gets free copies of the game to give to their viewers.
2. Create special handicaps that must be incorporated into the game. If your game is a shooter game, only allow single action rifles. If your game is a role playing game, then play hardcore mode where dying is permanent.
3. Have a few YouTubers play live with their friends and get the group of them yelling and excited about the gameplay. Watching YouTubers enjoy your game is the best advertising you can buy. It's the genuine experience a viewer is wanting for themselves.
You can likely think of other interesting ways of using this strategy, but make sure you do something interesting.
Too Good to Fail?
Wrong! I've seen this botched a few ways and none of them were forgiving or pretty. One game reviewer I make an effort to watch is Total Biscuit. His channel features a series where he jumps into a game he's never played before and engages with live audiences.
I've seen him love a great many games! He's likely been the reason why they sell so well (notice he'll regularly have half a million views per video), but there are certainly games he does not enjoy.
To date, I've never seen some worse damage to a brand image than through a game that wasn't enjoyed played on YouTube by an influential reviewer. Is your game;