Let Them Play

Image by Flickr User: Tom Newby Photography (cc)

The major controversy may have faded, but we never really saw a resolution to the root cause to all of the Youtube troubles that cropped up last year due to some new content policies and overly-zealous video-claiming. As far as I know, Fair Use law didn’t get its much-needed update and so Let’s Play videos, while still a wildly popular format, still remain in a very uncomfortable gray zone. It’s really a shame. I’m convinced that if the format were to get the legal protection that it needs, then everyone involved would benefit!

Let’s Plays are more than just extra-exposure for a given game. Rather, they’re more akin to advertising or even endorsements. Both of these would require a hefty sum to obtain anywhere else, but on Youtube, Twitch, and other platforms of the like, it’s all being given away for free! All a developer or publisher has to do is get out of their own way and their passionate fans do all the marketing work for them!

One could argue often negative exposure would only hurt the sales of bad or even average games, and good games wouldn’t need the extra help since everyone would already know that they’re good. Apologies to those that think that way, but you’re absolutely wrong. All it takes for a bad or even average game to become a popular fad game or even a cult-classic is for one person to make a fun video out of it. That’s all. Just look at Ride to Hell: Revolution; the denizens of Youtube took it, an absolutely horrible game, and turned it into a must-play! Everyone knew it was bad, but the videos we all saw of it sparked our collective curiosities and created an insane desire to experience its awfulness for ourselves! Youtube elevated Ride to Hell to a level of awareness that it, even if it had been decent, never would have reached by itself. The same goes for the good and even great games that get the “Let’s Play” treatment.

Every game can benefit from extra attention, even those made by Nintendo (which incidentally, was the most zealous of the developers that claimed copyright against Youtube “Let’s Play” videos). Take Supre Mario 3D World for example. We’ve all heard and read about how incredibly good it is. We all saw the rave reviews, we all heard about nothing else during its launch window. How many of us were willing to heed all that hype though? Let’s face it, up until Super Mario 3D World it looked like Mario was just going to be rehash after rehash of New Super Mario Bros. and it was going to take more than reviews and commercials to show that this new Mario game was actually going to offer something different. In my case, it wasn’t until I saw how much the “Game Grumps” were enjoying it that I decided to even give it a chance.

Let’s Plays are good for game sales whether they praise them or make fun of them. They’re effective marketing and would be even more so if game makers would collectively recognize their value one day. Hopefully, that’s a day that will be coming soon.

Has a Let’s Play ever convinced you to give a game a chance? Has one ever convinced you not to buy a game that you otherwise would have?

2 thoughts on “Let Them Play”

  1. I’ve found Let’s Plays to be invaluable tools for making decisions about which games are worth it for me. (And they can also really help when you get stuck!) Generally however, unless the Let’s Play is for a game that I know I want, I won’t watch them from beginning to end, because of spoilers. But seeing a couple levels being played can help me make up my mind about a game. For the most part, the results are usually positive. But I did watch a great Let’s Play for the new Devil May Cry game that swayed me in the opposite direction. It looked slick and cool, and I considered playing it, but I felt kind of indifferent about it after watching, so I didn’t buy it.

    1. I have bought so many bad games, and I don’t wish to waste any more money in such a fashion, so I now use Youtube videos to give me an idea of whether or not a game is good, too. I think it’s a far better way to get a proper idea of what a game is like than ads or anything else. I once was looking through several PS3 games, and watching these videos let me know which games were worth my money and which were not. There was one game everyone said was bad, but after watching a video of it, it looked very interesting.

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