4 January 2011

Portfolio (and PR) Advice: The importance of YouTube - by Megan Fox

To make this a bit more useful, I'll also be addressing it toward folks trying to get the word out about their game, but that wasn't what inspired this.

No, this entry was brought to you by me happening across yet another post on yet another game dev site where someone made an interesting piece... and for reasons beyond me, included only a link to a WMV to download from his or her site. I mean not even an AVI, a... WMV. So odd.

Thus:

As with all things, you have to consider your audience. When they click on your website, you've got about 30 seconds before even somewhat interested parties will leave if they can't find anything immediately graspable.

For art portfolios, this is why you throw your art front and center, make it easy to click on, and make it very pretty (and artists, go find yourself a blog written by artists that talk about that - personally I like the single page portfolios these days, but that's just me).

For code, you can do this somewhat with screenshots, but that doesn't show me how your game plays. So you think "hey! I'll just throw my exe link below the screenshots!".

No. You're someone I've never met, with whom my relationship began less than 30 seconds ago. And you're pointing me at an .exe? I don't care if you named it HonestIAmTotallyNotAVirus.exe, I'm probably not touching that with a 10 foot pole.  Even if I'm willing, the 10 friends I want to tell about it probably won't be, and you can bet that that .exe isn't going to fit in my tweet anyways.

Ok, so, next best thing - games are all about interactivity and movement, so we show that in a video. So we post a WMV!

No. I am not going to sit here for 2 minutes while your WMV downloads when I don't even know if your game is worth looking at. Even if you have pretty screenshots, this is plenty of time for me to open up Gamasutra, and notice someone posted a new article, and - then 2 days later I notice "HonestIAmAnAwesomeGame.wmv" in my Downloads directory, and briefly wonder what it related to before I delete it.

If you're lucky, I look at it, and then can't remember where it came from, and then I delete it.  This also won't fit into that tweet I was going to send my friends, and certainly wouldn't pull up easily on their cellphone.

Ok, so, we need it to play without a download. So we'll MAKE THIS COOL CUSTOM FLASH WEBPAGE WITH SCROLLING WIDGETS THAT INCLUDE A POPOUT WINDOW THAT STREAMS IN THE CON-

No. Really, no. Please, for the love of all that is holy, no. I don't want to sift through your custom Flash popout wotsit holy moley technicolor dream coaty scrolling website of amazing colors and motion just to find your dratted movie and figure out which of the conic sections is meant to represent the play button, and then STILL sit there for 30 seconds while you buffer it out on your webserver's questionable pipe, and it finally starts playing. I mean it works, sort of, though it still didn't fit in my tweet, and this keeps my attention, but why didn't you just -

Upload your content to Youtube.

It is fast, it is standard, and everyone recognizes it. I trust it more or less implicitly, and so does more or less everyone else. It is the bringer of cute kitten videos and such to happy families worldwide, and blessing of blessings, it is totally free for you to use. They don't even charge you for bandwidth.

Heck, they even have this amazing button below each video you can click to be presented with perfect, wonderful HTML you can use to embed the video RIGHT in your own site! Wowy!

Sure, it has ads sometimes. Sure, it doesn't match your website's style (though I think the widget is stylable at this point isn't it?). I do. not. care.

As a PR person, and you're a PR person as soon as you try and post a video about your game to garner interest from fans, you have to do everything in your power to reduce the friction on the path leading to product recognition and engagement.

You want to be able to take any random person that might stumble across your website and throw them instantly into the greased luge of awesomeness that sends them on a double corkscrew spin of amazement straight into your fanbase.

To do that, you've got to use the tools they are most likely to recognize, the tools that are the easiest and best for them, the tools that mean your amazing game can be seen everywhere from PCs to netbooks to cellphones to particularly intelligent toasters and rice makers, and this goes double if the tools have no real cost associated with their use, and that and all the rest of this culminates to mean...

Just put your dang video on Youtube. Geeze.

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Jacob Pederson
30 Dec 2010 at 6:21 am PST

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