Ever since the rise of PewDiePie, streaming and Let’s Play videos have played an increasingly important role in the way games are promoted and experienced, and are now in many ways more important than traditional exposure. Listen and learn from a panel at Casual Connect Europe that was made up of streamers on YouTube. They talked about the role of streamers in the relationship between indie developers, streamers and their respective audiences from the perspective of both developers and streamers. One of the panelists, Steejo (Justin Slater), observed: “Just as Let’s Play replaced traditional media, streamers are replacing Let’s Play.” Steejo has also witnessed, “Sales lift(ing) during live streams.” Tune in below for more insights from Steejo and other YouTubers.
Steejo (Justin Slater) is a Scottish YouTuber who focuses on games from hardcore to casual. Steejo describes their work as playing games and talking over them. More seriously, Steejo says, “I’m a YouTube content creator who does full playthroughs of games, aiming for a high level of play while inserting my own brand of humor into my videos.” Steejo started this YouTube channel thinking, as most people do, that it would be a fun experience. But instead of thinking of it as a hobby, from the start it was a business. Each purchase was an investment and every decision was made from an analytical business mindset.
One of the major advantages Steejo sees in this career is playing games for a living. But the community and the people they get to meet, from other YouTubers to viewers and developers are what Steejo enjoys most. “I’m amazed by the sheer number of awesome people I get to interact with on a day-to-day basis.”
As a serial entrepreneur, Steejo has had ample opportunity to understand the challenges of being self-employed. Having the ability to stick to a grueling upload schedule has definitely helped the channel to grow; viewers can always rely on having new content on a regular basis. And experience in more traditional businesses has given Steejo the ability to take an analytical approach to decisions about the channel.
Their education in business with a business law degree would have allowed Steejo to pursue a career as either a lawyer or an accountant, both of which had been childhood dreams. And after graduating, Steejo was offered an excellent job in business, but has never regretted turning it down. But one other childhood dream, becoming a pilot, is close to being realized. Steejo has already completed a good portion of the Private Pilot’s License.
Steejo’s decision to pursue this rather unusual career began while at university. For the final dissertation at university, Steejo did a study on Let’s Players and Let’s Playing in relation to more traditional businesses and was fascinated by what they discovered. Steejo says, “I made a ton of amazing contacts through my interviews and they inspired me to focus on my channel as my main career path.”
The Challenge of a YouTube Business
Starting a YouTube business has much the same challenges faced by more traditional startup businesses. During the initial period, Steejo was working 24/7 for almost no reward, while spending their savings just trying to survive. Steejo admits, “This can be incredibly demoralizing and there were numerous occasions when I was on the precipice of quitting.” But a few freelance jobs allowed them to continue until the business was self-sustaining.
This career means Steejo spends almost all the time working, researching new games, checking analytics and answering comments. If there is actually time away from work Steejo goes to the gym to combat the effects of sitting all day or watches a movie, but, surprisingly, almost never plays video games.
The career accomplishment that has brought Steejo the most pride was having their channel reach the point where they were finally able to pay the bills without using savings. This happened just in time; at a point when there were no longer any savings. As Steejo reveals, it took incredible dedication and hard work to reach that point.
A Continuing Trend Toward Indies
The games industry needs to make a change, Steejo has observed, in how rapidly games are rushed into early access, while they are still more a ‘proof of concept’ than a game. Even though it is early access, with people trying to fund development of the game, it is unfortunate to see the extremely slow development cycle of some EA games, especially after the early promise they show.
During the next few years in the game industry, Steejo expects to see a continuing trend toward indie developers and away from AAA titles. At the moment their channel is focusing strongly on indies, and Steejo intends to continue for the foreseeable future. Interestingly, Steejo does not see VR becoming anything more than a short-lived fad.
Steejo’s intention with the YouTube channel is to create regular, high quality content with a high level of play. Steejo plans to continue striving to provide viewers with the highest quality of entertainment and would love to do more panels and interviews within the game industry in order to talk with more people about the insights gained surrounding YouTube, Let’s Playing and business.
Catherine Quinton is a staff writer for www.gamesauce.org. Catherine loves her hobby farm, long walks in the country and reading great novels.