How gamers’ engagement with short-form video is changing

Short-form video is one of the hottest media channels right now, and gaming influencers have taken notice, flocking to platforms such as TikTok and YouTube Shorts in increasing numbers. As their fans’ eyeballs follow, it is becoming imperative for marketers to grasp how gamers approach short-form video content.

To better understand how modern gamers are engaging with short-form video, Digiday teamed up with Gamesight to pull key points from an exclusive report on gamers’ shifting video consumption preferences. 

Gamesight analyzed videos about the most popular 30 games on YouTube, comparing indicators such as view count to average video lengths to identify the most successful video durations for every game genre. Videos from the most popular games on YouTube, including marquee titles such as “Elden Ring” and “Minecraft,” account to over 80 percent of YouTube’s total gaming viewership, according to Gamesight’s data.

“This year, the rise in viewership, and the overall content generation, of short-form videos has plateaued,” said Christian Matheny, a data analyst at Gamesight. “It’s finally kind of evened out to about 40 to 50 percent of all content, and it seems like that’s where it’s going to say. So now is the perfect time to actually look at it — there’s no more flash-in-the-pan-style things.”

For its report, Gamesight classified YouTube videos into four categories: short (under 2 minutes), medium (2-8 minutes), long (8-20 minutes) and epic (over 20 minutes). Here are some of the key takeaways.

Smaller creators are rewarded more by short-form video than larger creators

The graph above shows the percentage share of average video views (AVV) for short-form content among YouTube Shorts’ gaming creators, with creators grouped into four size categories: micro (under 100,000 views), mid-tier (under 1 million views), macro (under 10 million views) and mega (over 10 million views).

The data above makes it clear that short-form content accounts for the majority of micro creators’ viewership, with the proportion of views from short-form content consistently decreasing for creators in the larger categories. This is because smaller creators stand to benefit more from the discoverability inherent to short-form video, whereas larger creators are able to serve long-form content to their pre-existing captive audience.

“There’s this element of luck, or blowing up, when you have a small video, where you can take a lot more shots on goal for the same budget,” Gamesight CEO Adam Lieb said. “Everyone talks about the algorithm, but it’s just human nature, right? People are scrolling through, and there’s something that catches their eye.”

Horror gaming content benefits most from short-form video

Some game genres experienced more short-form video engagement than others — but the figures for horror games blew all other genres out of the water, as shown by the chart above, which tracks average viewership for horror gaming content, grouped by content length. At 700,000, average viewership for short-form horror gaming content blew the average viewership of long-form horror gaming content, which stands at 300,000, out of the water.

“Most horror games are not that fun to watch someone do an entire playthrough of; there’s a lot of slow moments, a lot of build-up, and the exciting moments are watching someone get freaked out or startled with jump scares,” Lieb said. “You’re like, ‘haha,’ and you move on with your life. Watching someone play for 20 minutes to get there, not so much.”

Some gaming genres, like first-person shooters, still benefit most from long-form content

In spite of the impressive numbers for horror gaming content above, short-form video is not a silver bullet for gaming creators looking to juice up their numbers. The relationship between video length and engagement is still heavily dependent on genre, as shown by the chart above, which tracks the average viewership of first-person shooter and player-versus-player video content by length. In addition to shooter games, genres such as social gaming and sports games still reap more viewership from long-form content than any other video length.

Notably, the boost experienced by long-form video content in the aforementioned genres does not extend to epic-length content — that is, videos more than 20 minutes in length.

“When you go from long-form to epic, it’s such a stark drop-off; it’s funny to me, because it’s just a weird, hard-to-explain statistic,” Matheny said. “If you have a creator you really like listening to, you will listen to them for about 10 to 15 minutes — but then you’ll see a video longer than that, and you’ll say ‘that’s too much of an investment for me.'”

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with Adam Lieb‘s full name and title.

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