Is there any hope for Youtube channels that are not Let's Play?


Nah, I’m no spring chicken and I am pretty into Let’s Plays. A well done one can tell you stuff you didn’t know about a game, maybe interest you in trying it out if you’re on the fence. Or convincing you it’s not worth your time. Or just be an enjoyable spot of watching someone who’s good at a game show it off. And yeah, sometimes just a complete waste of time.


I pretty much only visit YouTube for Let’s Plays - I’m too old to find a reason for almost anything else. But usually I’m looking for something specific - Dwarf Fortress tutorials, something from Quill18 or Arumba to learn dense games like CK2/EUIV, etc. I’m not just watching people play for no reason - I’d never watch a Let’s Play of WoW or other MMO beyond just getting an impression of a buy-to-play game sans demo/free weekend.

I take that back - Rhett & Link, Muppet webisodes, and Princess Rap Battles* I also find hilarious and worth visiting for.

  • Yeah yeah, hush. For some reason I think they’re a riot. Or I have a web-crush on Whitney Avalon. Who knows.


Hate to really sound old and out of touch, but I gravitate towards the Jimmy Kimmel train of thought. I’ve no idea what the hook is with Lets plays and am baffled by their apparent success.

I do watch the odd game review though. Otherwise its trailers, music videos, clips from shows or movies, ted talks, some of the geek & sundry stuff, red letter media.

Anyway, guess I’m just not in tune with todays media consumption (sad really, since I work for a TV station!)


I am also a bit surprised at how popular Let’s Play stuff is, but I’ve never enjoyed watching someone else play a game.

I’ve reached the age where it’s refreshing to not be staring at some kind of screen, he said while staring at a screen.


Interesting thoughts, guys. Thanks.


You know, just because why not, here is the first Let’s Play I watched that kind of got me hooked. It’s for Jurassic Park: Trespasser, a game that is not very good, but played by a guy who knows his stuff and has lots to say about the game. I would never play this game but I’m really glad I watched this, it’s not a bad little time killer if you have some to spare.


I watch football. It’s bunch of grown men playing with a ball. It does not improve my life one bit and I don’t have a financial interest in it, yet I find it compelling viewing. I don’t understand how someone watching a Let’s Play video is doing something different than me when I watch football.

The whole point of Youtube is that since now anyone can broadcast their ‘show’, we the audience can choose from a much larger pool of shows than we had before Youtube. When I was a kid there was a tv call in show for kids that had some kind of game where the kid on the phone said “Pow” to fire at something on the tv screen. We watched that every day. It was like a very low tech Let’s Play tv segment. So the appeal has been there all along, it just took the right set of technologies to allow it to happen the way we see it now.


You’re right, it’s not inherently different from watching sports.

I don’t watch sports either. Ever. But that’s not me being old, it’s me being weird.


Man, that rings some faint but insistent bells. Was that from the “Bozo’s Circus” show on WGN?


There was something like this in between shows when I was a kid in North Carolina. As I recall, a kid would call in and say “PIX” (the channel was WPIX I think) and they’d fire in the game.


I think Let’s Plays are a boom right now, but I would bet it won’t last forever. Youtube is pretty notorious for “shooting first, ask questions later” when it comes to DMCA strikes. And harsher if you are less popular. This is going to make it harder for new talent to use the service and shove them elsewhere (see the rise of Twitch streaming). Streaming is also popular for long plays and live stuff. I mean, you can’t even stream newer Nintendo stuff without having an actual content partnership with Nintendo. I would expect other publishers to cash in the same.


I doubt that very much. All the popular streamers and youtubers stopped showing Nintendo games entirely. Even if they hadn’t, Nintendo can’t be making much money off it anyway.


Miniture Space is the greatest food channel on youtube, and its pretty new, 10 months old give or take.


I don’t know if anything’s changed, but Mario Maker has been near the top of twitch since it came out.


That’s awesome. If this channel and the How to Basic guy combined forces they’d rule Youtube.


For me, the thing that makes a let’s play series watchable is the same thing that seems to be a common thread among popular Youtube channels regardless of genre and that’s a good/interesting/funny/charismatic host.

E.g., Jack Frags is probably my favorite Youtube gamer:

Currently he’s got a ton of Battlefront content which is less compelling to me than his Battlefield, H1Z1 or CSGO content. I fell behind the skill curve on first person shooters a long time ago so I don’t even play them anymore but it’s entertaining to watch well edited highlights played by someone who is ridiculously good, funny and insightful. It’s Jack’s personality that makes his content so entertaining in the end.

The same is true for the various woodworking shows I watch – A funny, relate-able host putting out well edited and informative content makes you want to come back for more.

My daughter, being twelve, watches Youtube nonstop and from what I can see of her viewing habits, it’s the same story. While the content is something that would only appeal to teenage girls (back to school expectations vs reality, makeup tutorials, etc.) the draw for her seems to be the personality of the host. And she’s obviously not alone as these channels she’s watching all have over a million subscribers and many in the 3-5 million range. Some of these channels also have scripted content but the bulk of it is talking head.

I do think there is a place for scripted content as others have pointed out. Ultimately, though, I’m not sure it’s necessarily something you can bank on as a business model unless you have an established viewer base. It seems that the majority of people who are successful on Youtube are people who started doing something out of love or passion only to have it go viral. For every Youtube millionaire there are likely hundreds of thousands of equally talented people screaming into the void.

Cross promotion does seem to be one effective way to boost your viewership though. If you can partner or collaborate with a popular channel, you will get a big bump to your viewership. Many popular Youtubers even promote such collaborations as contest prizes.


I agree that charisma of the presenter is critical. Bottomline, I will watch something, Youtube or somewhere else, just to see that person if they are entertaining. The content is secondary. One other thing I think is important, but more subtle, is production value. If the video image is compromised, if the audio is clipping or crackling, I’m going to move on. If someone looks orange because they can’t be bothered to light things correctly, they could be entertaining as hell but I won’t know it cause I won’t be watching. If I can only hear half what they say because they keep moving away from their cheap mic, same deal.


I think I agree with gameoverman - basically I come for the content, stay if the presentation is interesting.


Man I screwed myself. I started a channel called Plastic Fantasitic about a year ago and then promptly got busy with another project and now can’t remember the password or even really the username. Then I created another one last month called the same thing and now when you Google The Plastic Fantastic Show it comes up with the first one and not the new one. That bones me. I boned myself. I’m terribad at this social media thing, I dove right in and already made a mistake.


No chance at recovering the password to the old one? Email YouTube support, they’re pretty helpful.