Should You Stream Popular Games to Get Views on YouTube?

When trying to build a YouTube gaming channel, a lot of people will try to stream the most popular games. I suppose part of that has to do with how Twitch taught how this was important. But are popular games better for views on YouTube?

Part of that has to do more with how you’re setting your channel up for success. It doesn’t always have to center around the latest and greatest game trends.

Although, those will definitely help in the long run.

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How Getting Views Works in YouTube

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is how YouTube works. At its core, YouTube is a search engine. As such, it tries to “predict” what any given viewer is either interested in or searching for.

In many regards, it works similarly to Google. YouTube tries to determine, as best it can, to give you what you want.

Unlike Twitch, YouTube is powered by search results and its algorithm. This means that certain videos and live streams can be found from someone simply typing in the right keyword.

In this regard, even the smallest of channels can be found by someone interested in the content. Afterward, it all falls on the creator’s shoulders to keep that person watching.

Titles and Descriptions

In YouTube, your titles and descriptions play a role in how your videos are delivered to searchers. In essence, it works nearly identical to how Google ranks for search engine optimization.

Obviously, if someone is searching for “Fortnight,” you wouldn’t want your title to be about “Minecraft.”

But the layout of the text and video description helps the YouTube algorithm determine what the video is about and who wants to watch it.

As a rule of thumb, I usually add a 200 to 300-word synopsis of what the video is about or how it can help the viewer. As a result, a lot of my tutorials on the writing channel wind up getting picked up by Google itself.

Just don’t forget how important wording is within your video. This brings me too…

Transcription of the Video

YouTube will also utilize the transcription of your video in search results. Coincidentally, so will Google.

This is why people try to avoid saying phrases that can get the video suppressed. The system is monitoring what you say.

This means that if you’re doing videos or live streaming about hardware, products, reviews, tutorials, and other types, what you say is used to determine how the video appears in search.

I’m not saying that if you’re doing a tutorial about building something in Minecraft that you need to say it a hundred times in the video. But be aware that what you say is a ranking factor.

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Types of Gaming Videos

Not all game videos need to center around actual play. Some people simply talk about certain titles, companies, news, or even show off specific hardware.

Videos like this are usually much easier to find as opposed to live streaming depending on the context.

If you want to get more views, try a different range of styles to see which one works best for your specific audience. Because you might engage a particular type of viewer who loves that content.

Trending Games and Topics

Trending topics of any kind usually result in greater YouTube views. Especially if it’s something exceptionally popular spreading across social and mainstream media outlets.

The more people who are curious about those specific topics, the more likely you’ll reach that audience. Though, you want to make sure you’re covering the topic well.

Otherwise, people will accuse you of “clickbait” and it can easily squash your reputation.

Use YouTube Analytics to Understand Your Views

The most important factor behind getting views on YouTube is how your audience reacts to the content you create. For this, the YouTube Analytics screen in your Studio is perhaps your most important tool.

By keeping an eye on what videos work, what games are more popular, and the type of topics you cover, you can get a feel for what you should create next.

You may just find that popular titles don’t work as well with people who love to watch your videos.

My point is that just because something is popular right now doesn’t mean you’ll rake in the viewership. There are a lot of things to consider, such as competition and whether your audience cares.

Another aspect to consider is your thumbnail strategy. The thumbnail image can literally make or break viewership on YouTube. It works in conjunction with your title to entice someone to click and watch.

You can find this in the Analytics page as your “Click-through rate.” According to YouTube, anything between 2 and 10% is ideal. But in reality, it all depends on the topic and channel niche.

At any rate, you want to see what you can do to constantly improve the CTR of your videos. Even popular games can be ignored if your thumbnail is lacking.

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It Can Take Time

And lastly, keep in mind that it can take time before you get a feel for what works best. Try some popular games and topics, but also mix in other things you like to play or want to cover.

In some instances, YouTube videos would take months before they become viral, if they ever do. You might not get any views on a video this month and then all of the sudden, the video explodes the next.

Try a few different things over the course of a couple of months to build up some actionable data. And don’t freak out if you have a video up for a week and no one has watched it.

There could be a variety of reasons why it’s not getting views on YouTube.

Stream What You Like, But Keep an Eye on the Numbers

In the end, what you should be streaming are the videos that your audience wants to watch. Sometimes that means the most popular games, other times that means more tutorials or reviews.

A good example of this is how Achievement Hunter attempted to play the Xbox version of Diablo III. Those videos tanked, and they soon after went back to the most popular titles.

In any case, try different topics and styles to see where your audience sits. Because if you keep giving them what they want to watch, many will keep coming back for more.

Just don’t be afraid to try something new. You never know when any particular game, product, or news piece could take off.

Michael Brockbank
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Michael Brockbank

Michael developed ColoradoPlays to help various charities through his favorite pastime. Since then, the blog and Twitch channels have donated several hundred dollars to Extra Life, Geeks of Grandeur and Operation Supply Drop to name a few.