Thursday 16 August 2018

Gamedev Livestreams - Is It Worth It?

I'm sure a lot of you know that I've opted to start livestreaming regularly over the past few weeks. This has kind of been an experiment into whether this is actually a worthwhile endeavour and for me, I can confidently say that it is.

So, here are the advantages to regular livestreaming.

First, it helps to keep your game on the minds of people who follow you. If they see that you're constantly working on a game and they only click it once every week, that's still effectively an ad-spot that you have on their YouTube homepage for free.

Also, for me personally it helps to seperate "casual computer usage" time with "work computer usage" time. Frequently when I'm working I'll get distracted or fail to concentrate and this has been a problem that I've had for kind of a while. However, when I'm livestreaming and actually broadcasting my computer monitor to anyone who is watching, it stops me from just checking Twitter one more time or browsing reddit for a little bit or playing just one more round of Enter The Gungeon- oh wait, it's past 6pm, I guess I'm done working today!

With livestreaming, my brain can easily recognize that this is not the time to start messing around and I actually need to focus and do some work for my lovely viewers.

Another thing is again- personally to me, but I love seeing numbers go up and I love high scores. This means that when I stream, the time I spend streaming is effectively a score that I want to keep high or to beat each day. I don't know how many other people get this but I know that I certainly do feel the need to keep streaming if only to see the number go up, which ultimately means that I put in more hours working each day.

Also, since I am actually working and concentrating, time tends to go by fairly quickly, which gives me a nice dopamine rush if there's a 45 minute difference between the last two times I looked at the clock.

ANOTHER reason why livestreaming is cool is that it gives me a nice excuse to talk to other game developers. Since my throat and jaw tend to start hurting if I do go for 4 hours narrating everything I do, I tend to talk to other people like Florian Himsl of GameSquid or Collin Esplin... also of GameSquid. Either way, it's fun to talk to people and sometimes it keeps them motivated too.

The last big reason why livestreaming is great for me is because I already have a bank of just under 900 subscribers who are alerted every time I livestream so I'm guaranteed a few viewers each time, and as for the big reason-

YouTube algorithms.

YouTube tends to favour content by channels which 1) upload content on a regular schedule, and 2) upload as much as possible and 3) have high watch time. If I create daily content (in the form of a mix of livestreams and actual videos), YouTube will recommend my channel more and more. So far I've been seeing significant success with this, and it's fairly easy to livestream for a couple of hours even on days when I don't really want to.

If I don't want to or am not able to livestream, then I've got a big bank of video scripts just waiting to be recorded and uploaded on that day instead.

Also, due to the very nature of livestreams if like an average of 5 people are watching a 4 hour livestream, that's 20 hours of watch-time just there. If 200 people see a 3 minute video that I release, that's only about 10 hours. This means that livestreams inherently bring in large quantities of watch time.

So ultimately, livestreaming is hugely advantageous for growing my YouTube channel which for me, happens to be my main marketing platform.

So what are the cons?

Well, if you don't have an established viewerbase then you might only get a small number if any viewers. It sounds super difficult to actually make a viewerbase from livestreaming, since usually I pretty much cap out at 10 concurrent viewers and 50-70 total views on the livestream. The truth is that actually gaining a following in livestreaming is really, really difficult and it's much easier to create a few successful YouTube videos to boost your audience and livestream ALONGSIDE a healthy YouTube channel.

Also, it has the potential to distract people who are easily distractable in such an environment. I'm lucky in that most other people don't tend to distract me very easily and I can keep focused even when they're off talking about Tetris or whatever weird topic they decide to start talking about. However, I know that some people really aren't able to do this at all.

It can also eat up a huge quantity of your time. If you have a full-time job, you're well within your right to just be way too exhausted at the end of the day to livestream for another few hours. It is tiring and you need to have a certain baseline of energy to keep your viewers entertained by constantly having somebody talking at any point in time.

Also, some people just don't enjoy narrating what they do. Some people don't like talking. I wouldn't have started a YouTube channel to begin with if I didn't like talking, so again- this is pretty well suited to me, but I don't speak for everyone and I've seen some people on reddit and Twitter actually express disbelief that anybody could livestream such a thought-intensive task as programming or game design in general.

So that's pretty much it, if you've got any questions then feel free to ask me because I'm sure I've not covered everything in this fairly comprehensive topic, but yeah. Thanks for watching and stay tuned for more livestreams for reasons that you can go rewind and listen to all over again. Goodbye!

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