A Bunch of Stupid Charts

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Jan 21, 2020

Filed under: Column 146 comments

For the last few months, I’ve been doing this dual-production thing where I publish my columns as a YouTube video and as a blog post. That’s sort of like making a game cross-platform by releasing it as a Steam VR title and an MS-DOS text adventure. The two mediums are so different that there are very few assets you can meaningfully reuse.

(Also, if it’s not obvious already: This post is a bunch of navel gazing. This is going to be really boring. I’ve even got graphs and charts later. I’d tell you not to bother reading this, but we both know that’s not how things work around here.)

Stuff that works well in one medium might not have a good equivalent in the other. My beloved footnotesFootnotes like this one, except more funny. don’t have a good analogue in the video world. And of course linking to other sites is trivial in text and obnoxious / impossibleYou can either put the link in the description where absolutely no one will see it, or you can display the URL as text in the video and absolutely no one will bother typing it. in a video. Likewise, video footage can convey a lot of information that would take several paragraphs to convey in text. One example is in my column on in-game economies. In the video version, I cut away to some Final Fantasy X for a humorous conversation that lampshades the economic problem I’m talking about. There was no way to capture that joke in the text version except to explain it, so it got left out.

One of the problems I’ve had in writing these things is that I can never get a good sense of how long a video is going to be before I start recording. Some scripts are under 1,000 words. Some exceed 2,500. Some have little cutaways to gameplay footage, and some are non-stop narration. I wanted a way to reliably convert words to time.

If you can't solve a problem, put it in a spreadsheet. You'll still have a problem, but now you also have a spreadsheet and those are cool!
If you can't solve a problem, put it in a spreadsheet. You'll still have a problem, but now you also have a spreadsheet and those are cool!

So I made a spreadsheet and I entered the length of every video (minus credits) and the word length of every script. This gave me a rough “words per minute” estimate to work with. My slowest video was Blizzard’s Folly, where I narrated 179 words per minute. The fastest talking was in Raytracing, where I reached 205 WPM. According to the spreadsheet, I average around 196.

If you’ve ever made a spreadsheet, then you know it’s hard to stop once you’ve started. The temptation is to keep adding data to the chart and see if the magic computer box can convert any of the information into knowledge. So that’s what I did. I got a bit carried away, and ended up fussing with the silly spreadsheet for a whole evening rather than making a post for today. So this chart dump is actually my attempt to cover my sins.

Let’s start with the obvious stuff:

Length of articles / videos in words.
Length of articles / videos in words.

This is the word length of each script. It’s not a trick of the bar graph that three of the videos seem to be the same length. Borderlands 3 and Skinner’s Box happen to be exactly 1,884 words long, and Dumbest Cutscene is 1,885. Note that this is the length of the narration script. The text post might be different due to wording changes / image captions / section headings, and other blog-only conventions.

Also, the above chart contains a spoiler for next week: The next article is about how Bethesda misunderstood the nuances of Fallout. You can see that script is pretty massive compared to the others.

Here on the blog, my favorite article size is somewhere in the 1,500 to 2,500 range. As an article exceeds 3,000, I usually start looking for ways to cut it in half and make a two-parter out of it. It’s been years since an article hit 4k on this site.

However, this video essay stuff is putting new constraints on my workflow. You really don’t want to release a single argument in the form of two 10-minute videos. Blog readers come back to the blog, but video-watchers are fickle people. The YouTube algorithm will not remind them to come back next week. Maybe you could fix this by making the text version a two-parter and the video version a single video, but… nah. That would be annoying.

Length of videos, minus credits.
Length of videos, minus credits.

Here are the lengths of the various videos. Note that the last one is a projection. I haven’t recorded the audio yet so I can’t say for sure how long it’ll be. I’ll finalize the script and record the narration later this week.

Again, the upcoming video is much longer than the others. It’ll be interesting to see if this has any impact (positive or negative) on viewership.

Number of slides per video.
Number of slides per video.

This chart is a little odd. It’s labeled as the number of “slides” in each video, but it’s more accurately a count of the number of unique files that went into it. This would include screenshots, charts, gameplay footage, and audio. I guess calling this category “assets” would be more accurateThe numbers aren’t totally accurate. Some assets don’t get used in the final cut, and there are always a handful of random / temporary files that end up floating around inside the project folder.. I think the bare minimum number of files to make a video would be 4: The title screen, my narration, some gameplay footage, and the end credits. That would be a very boring video, but that’s the lower limit.

The Dumbest Cutscene one had very few files because it was mostly just me talking over gameplay footage. The Domino Worldbuilding one had a lot because it was long and I had a lot of specific images rather than just letting gameplay footage roll over my narration. The Fallout one is obviously out of control. I hope people don’t get spoiled and demand that level of hand-crafted content in every video, because that’s not sustainable. Still, I’m really enjoying working on this video.

Now for the bad news:

Number of YouTube views per video.
Number of YouTube views per video.

Ugh. That is depressing. For contrast, my old Reset Button videos easily hit the 40k mark on multiple occasions. My video on megatextures – which I don’t think is particularly good by today’s standards – is just shy of half a million views. Now my videos are getting less than a tenth of what they used to.

  1. Maybe the overall quality of YouTube video essays has gone up, and now my content isn’t strong enough to capture people’s attention.
  2. Maybe this new content isn’t very good and I can’t tell because I’m too close to the project to appraise it objectively.
  3. Maybe my content is fine, but the current-day algorithm is burying my channel for reasons that nobody could hope to discern. Maybe it doesn’t like that I have ads turned off. Maybe it doesn’t like that my channel was dormant for years.
  4. Maybe YouTube really hates my ratio of view to subscriptions. I have 14K subscribers left over from the old days when my videos were far more viral. Certainly a large number of those accounts have long since gone dormant. So YouTube sees that a lot of my subscribers aren’t clicking on my content. Maybe if I’d started over with a new channel then YouTube would have thought, “Oh wow. 2K views! This newcomer is off to a great start! I should spread this around!”

I thought I was being punished for lack of engagement, but I did the usual shtick of begging for comments, subs, and thumbs up button, and it didn’t seem to change anything. I appeared on-camera at the end of the Dumbest Cutscene episode to ask for more engagement, and it doesn’t look like it made much of a difference. Or maybe it did. I guess the sample size is too small to draw any real conclusions.

So Why Are We Doing This?

As I’ve said before, the videos are part of my effort to bring in fresh traffic. The age of the gaming blog is long over, and I’m not getting links like I used to. I mean, who would link to me? Most peer sites stopped existing years ago.

Every site has some degree of churn. People change, or they get tired of your content, or they move to a new hobby, and you lose some readers. If I don’t bring in new people to replace the ones I lose, then the site will go into a death spiral.

So the goal here is to create videos that will give me a bump in readers / Patreon supporters / general name recognition. The thing is, I want to do this without sacrificing the output on the blog. If I pivot all the way to YouTube, then I’m no longer a writer, I’m a personality. I prefer writing, so anything that takes me away from the blog is a non-starter. At that point, I might as well give up and get a regular job.

More importantly, pivoting to YouTube is exactly the kind of change in priorities that killed BioWare. They spurred their longtime hard-core fans in pursuit of mass market appeal, and wound up with neither.

So I need to make popular videos. Which means making high-quality videos. Which means spending time on them. But if I spend to much time on them then I’ll hurt the blog. This is… not a fun spot to be in.

Additional notes: I shared the Dumbest Cutscene on the r/HiTMAN subreddit, and I shared the Domino Worldbuilding one on r/MassEffect. If those links gave me a boost, it didn’t rise above the level of noise in our sample.

Then again, I think self-promoting links…

“Hey, I made a thing!”

….aren’t nearly as effective as links from other people…

“Hey, some guy named Shamus made a thing!”

…so this isn’t really a useful metric. Someone on Reddit linked to my Mass Effect retrospective a few years ago, and it created a nice bump in traffic.

As an aside: I’m convinced that despite the widespread corporate obsession with social media, Reddit is the only useful platform if you’re trying to promote something. Facebook is supposedly the big dog in terms of global reach, but given the metrics I’ve seen over the yearsI even bought a little ad space on Facebook a few years ago., it’s only good for promoting other Facebook pages. If you want people to know about your non-Facebook content, then Facebook is about as useful as MySpace. I’m seriously wondering if Facebook isn’t actually the social media equivalent of a dead man walking: It’s only popular now because it was popular a few years ago, and the next time there’s an economic contraction and businesses get picky about how they spend their marketing dollars, they’ll realize that the return on investment for Facebook is pathetic. And if that happens, the Facebook bubble would pop.

I could be wrong, but that’s what it looks like from my tiny corner of the internet.

Anyway. The battle to keep this old-school gaming blog relevant continues. Maybe I’ll hemorrhage readers and this place will fold in the next few years, but I’m obstinate and I want to keep this hustle going for as long as I can.

I do enjoy making the videos and Issac enjoys editing them. They’re not really worth it in terms of time investment. They make no money and they bring in almost nothing in the way of traffic. But there’s always the chance that the planets will align and one of them will go viral. Issac and I agreed we should give it a few more months and see if the show grows.



[1] Footnotes like this one, except more funny.

[2] You can either put the link in the description where absolutely no one will see it, or you can display the URL as text in the video and absolutely no one will bother typing it.

[3] The numbers aren’t totally accurate. Some assets don’t get used in the final cut, and there are always a handful of random / temporary files that end up floating around inside the project folder.

[4] I even bought a little ad space on Facebook a few years ago.

From The Archives:

146 thoughts on “A Bunch of Stupid Charts

  1. Kornel Krzysztof B?aszczyk says:

    Hi Shamus
    Would You mind if I share a little bit personal (as in “could be read as personal attack”) comment on Your Videos / Podcast?

    1. Shamus says:

      Well, I don’t know if I’ll mind until you share it. I suppose we are at an impasse.

      More seriously: I don’t mind critical feedback as long as it’s polite.

      1. Kornel Blaszczyk says:

        Well, that might have been a little bit of a silly question now that I look at it.
        I find Your voice to be both a little bit high pitch and rough / harsh. In that combination it is really distracting and unpleasant for me to listen to (and I do listen to all of Your podcast and watch all of Your videos, writing is top notch, free form podcast, well it varies ;) ). As a man of many, many hobbies you could look in to voice emission workshops (I’m not a native speaker so I’m not sure if that is correct name). They won’t make You Ron Perlman or anything but they could make significant change (I think)

        Maybe podcast could use a little bit heavier editing when it comes to ums, ehs, ams and pauses

        1. CJK says:

          While I suspect this feedback will be viewed as approximately as useful as “Have you tried being taller?” I do want to second your point – I bounced off Spoiler Warning for years because something about Shamus’ voice, before eventually bingeing the Human Revolution season and getting used to it. And I do mean specifically our gracious host’s speaking voice, and not his tone or content – obviously those are what I’m here for!

          Unfortunately, we don’t get to choose our voice or our accent, although both are trainable with enough work. I don’t know – perhaps one of Shamus’ other collaborators would be interested in trying voiceover, although one suspects that Issac has a similar voice and accent as is often the case in a family (if Issac has appeared on a podcast or something, sorry, I haven’t followed in a while)

          I mentioned tone up there – one thing I notice is that the humour of the blog doesn’t come through in the videos (OK, there was the fakeout ending in the Borderlands 3 video, that was pretty funny).
          I’m not sure if that’s deliberate, or a side effect of writing as a script, but even the text versions of those posts sound like lobotomised Shamus – your personality doesn’t come through, and I think it’s your personality that has kept all these people coming back to the blog for a decade or more.

          1. Bloodsquirrel says:

            Well, there are speech coaches, but that’s probably a wee bit more of an investment than Shamus can afford (both in time and money).

            1. Asdasd says:

              Is My Fair Lady on Netflix? I’m sure repeat viewings could do a fraction of the good, for a fraction of a fraction of the cost!

              (I’ve never had a problem with Shamus’s voice; quite the opposite in fact. Big podcast fan!)

            2. Benden says:

              I want to jump in and say that I love Shamus’ voice, but I think it is entirely possible that I learned to love it. Years of knowing his voice meant “here comes the hilarious yet insightful grumping” in Spoiler Warning may have trained me.

              If I stand way back and think about it from a distance, I agree that our beloved narrator doesn’t have a radio voice by nature, and some technology and training could create a more polished-sounding result. And that might help new viewers get attached.

              All of that said, it’s the same voice that did his older videos. I think it’s very likely that this doesn’t explain the metrics in the large scale.

            3. OPG says:

              I’m sure there are voice exercises Shamus can do that just cost a few minutes a day

              EDIT: I should add that I don’t dislike Shamus’ voice, but he’s a lot better at conversations than at reading off scripts. Maybe some dramatic reading stuff would help?

        2. Lino says:

          I actually find his voice extremely relaxing. To each his own, I suppose.

          1. Bloodsquirrel says:

            Most regular people’s voices take a little getting used to on Youtube/podcasts. The “standard” for pleasing voices on those platforms is relatively high, so we get used to it and regular voices sound worse by comparison. It’s like seeing a regular person in a Marvel Movie. I’m decently in shape, but I’d look like a potato standing next to the Avengers cast.

          2. evileeyore says:

            Ditto. Ever since the old days when I first heard Shamus’ voice in the raytracing episodes, I’ve read the blog in his voice. It’s like an old friend you haven’t spoken to in awhile to hear in the videos.

          3. JjmaCXIII says:

            I’ve always thought Shamus’ voice was great. The very first time I heard him I thought to myself, he sounds vaguely reminiscent of Super Dave Osborne.

        3. OldOak says:

          And here is where we can see how important the voice acting (always underrated) is or how spoiled we’re becoming when getting used with high quality :)

          My 0.02 credits advice would be for maybe some “massaging” of the sound track with subtle effects to enhance the voice (I’m thinking with something like the open source Audacity).

          Personally, I don’t mind the podcast and the videos to reflect the “real” people they come from – we’re not all Mike Myers or Eddie Murphy.

          1. Syal says:

            with subtle effects to enhance the voice

            Something like this?

        4. asdf says:

          I also find Shamus’ voice unpleasant to listen to. And the podcast has a ton of lipsmacking and other noises that might turn on some ASMR folk, but it’s no good for me. Stricter editing, different microphone and voice training might help?

          That plays right into the other points above: The quality on youtube has increased A LOT. Not having a nice radio voice is now noticeable, because the rest of the content creators either have a nice voice (like Northernlion or Mark Brown), or at least a weird shtick (like Dunkey or Killian).

          Speaking of: That’s who you’re up against. And these guys are pretty good at what they do, with good editing skills, interesting footage that is more than on-topic B-roll, nice to listen to and well paced scripts.

          I found the last few videos you made just a bit too shallow on content? No major revelations, just decently explained things I already knew: I mean, I know what the Fallout video will be about. I’ve seen like five videos already which were about how Bethesda does not understand the theme of Fallout at all.

          1. Erik says:

            I personally don’t mind Shamus’s voice, but it’s undeniable – he’s not a radio announcer. That’s fine, one doesn’t need to have the mellifluous sonorities of an announcer to be an interesting person to listen to. Yeah, something could probably be done with some post-processing filters. De-click, de-pop, and de-hiss filters may be able to take some of the rough edges off.

            But most of all – try some different microphones. Work with your local musician’s supply store and see what they have that you could try, maybe even in-store, and record the same short piece on each and see which brings out the best in your voice. As a former sound guy for a band, changing the mic can cause unexpectedly large effects on the resulting sound. If you feel it’s harsh, try a mellower mic; if you feel it’s muddy, try a hotter mic. Look into wind screens and other accessories that may change the character of the sound. Heck, try hanging blankets on the wall before recording to reduce slap echo, or record in a bathroom for better reverb. (Weird Al’s first recording was in a bathroom.) There are a lot of options that have effects far larger than their costs.

        5. toadicus says:

          I’m not going to pile on about vocal quality — I think Shamus’ voice sounds fine — but I do notice something interesting in contrast between The Diecast and the new This Dumb Industry videos.

          First, an aside. I read most of the content here, but I also commute a minimum of 10 hours a week. Anything I can listen to in my car without wasting a bunch of my own time is great. I love listening to your podcast and your videos while I’m driving (and I usually re-watch the videos later to see what the visuals add). You’re smart, you’re well-spoken, and you offer a perspective that isn’t typical to your competition (frequently ‘net journalism professionals who are eager to insert reassurance that their political philosophies are appropriately mainstream). The one-ish hours of content from you each week are generally among my favorite. My encouragement is to persist and prevail, not to despair and decline.

          Back to the contrast: in your videos, your dialogue is quick, clean, and concise. In the Diecast, it’s less so. Some of that is natural. You’re thinking on your feet, not reading copy. You’re talking for a much longer period, which leads to fatigue. You’re fighting with what I’m guessing is at least a 90 ms delay in your two-way with Paul, which makes reacting to unexpected returns from your co-host more awkward as you rewind in your head to figure out where you where when he started talking as opposed to when you heard him. That said, the editing in the Diecast is (currently) very loose. I don’t want to pick on Isaac, but I’m pretty sure this is actually a contrast also to Bae’s editing, which I think I recall being tighter.

          For example: sometimes you’ll falter just as you begin a thought. Maybe Paul interrupted you (see delay issues), maybe your voice is tired (see being human), maybe something else. No worries — it happens. You then start over from the beginning so you can issue your thought uninterrupted — great. But… both make it into the edit. Why not remove the falter? Similar things happen for occasional swallows, throat clearing, and pauses to search for words. In fairness, sometimes you want to leave in an interruption or a pause or an “um” or something like that for stylistic reasons, but I feel like I hear you deliberately making corrections as though you expect the first version not to make the edit… then it goes through anyway. There are also plenty of just-barely-too-long pauses between the end of your speaking and the beginning of Paul’s (or vice versa), mostly noticeable in conversation passes. Maybe one or both of you are actually just pausing to consider your words, but I’m listening at 110% (sometimes 120%) speed and there’s still plenty of pauses just long enough to feel awkward. Trimming whitespace would — IMO — improve listener tracking.

          I know editing can be tedious and what I’m guessing is ninety minutes of audio will take a long time to go through. The tighter the edit the longer the process and that relationship probably isn’t linear. But I think it would tangibly improve the quality, which might make your podcast more appealing to less forgiving listeners.

          Final thought that’s mostly a non-issue nowadays, but seems relevant to the discussion: for the majority of commuter-listeners like myself, integration with a podcasting app of some kind is essential. Downloading the file and finding it in VLC and then crossing my fingers that Android Auto plays nice with VLC for a whole hour is a) a drag and b) not something I can do if your content is next on my mental list and I’m already driving. You’ve been pretty consistent there for at least a few months, but I wanted to emphasize that this is an important part of appealing to people who are stuck behind the wheel for 8.9% of their waking lives.

          Keep up the good work, Shamus.

        6. LCF says:

          I don’t mind the voice.
          However, as a couple other people here, I prefer reading than watching videos, having the audio canal already occupied by some sweet melodies, and reading itself is more pleasant to Me.

          (Amanethes is blasting in the background.)

  2. stratigo says:

    Youtube is, indeed, over saturated with pretty quality game commentary these days, and the algorithm is a horror to work with. I know, for my part, that when I read a blog post of yours, I don’t have an overwhelming urge to watch the video either, so there’s probably a part of it where your blog readers aren’t making the jump to watching your videos. And then vice versa.

    1. when I read a blog post of yours, I don’t have an overwhelming urge to watch the video either,

      Maybe our host should hold the transcript for a week or a couple of days or something?

      1. Duffy says:

        I generally hate video content for the sort of subjects Shamus tends to cover for a few personal reasons I won’t get into, but it means I’ve skipped almost all Shamus’ ongoing video/audio content despite habitually reading the site since the DM of the Rings days. I’ll watch the occasional significant video production he makes, but if given a choice between a transcript and a video I’ll take the transcript everytime.

        1. Sleeping Dragon says:

          Nowadays I almost exclusively visit the blog from work during nightshifts and it would take some effort for me to be able to watch the videos, on top of that depending on work duties I can get frequently interrupted making text much easier to get back to than video.

          I think postponing the transcript would really harm the discussion in the comments on the blog here. I know only a fraction of Shamus’ audience participates in the comments but I think it’d be harder to judge how many blog readers at least follow the discussions (I know I tend to come back to a post a couple times to check the comments, particularly if I posted something) or how much that affects readership but if personal preference is concerned it would be a big loss for me.

          1. evileeyore says:

            I’m with Duffy. I’m pretty sure I only really watched the old videos because there was no blog transcript, I prefer reading to watching if possible as I read far faster than people talk.

            That said, I’ve been watching the new vids specifically to support Shamus, despite having already read the transcripts. It’s only another 10 minutes, and I have other stuff I can do while the vid plays in the background.

      2. Hector says:

        It may be too late for Shamus to even see this, but the very first thing I would recommend he do is PUT THE MONDAY CHAT ON YOUTUBE. It will work fine with static background, or if he has the function he can throw up the waveform bar or whatever, but this automatically adds a huge amount of content to his channel that he’s basically not taking advantage of. Additionally, and I am sure I am not the only one with this issue, but I mostly have opportunities to listen to longform material while at work – but all “gaming” sites are blocked even if it’s just reporting (don’t ask me, I didn’t design the office filter stop PCGamer and not Facebook).

        Anyway, that’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but frequent regular content updates are one way to cut through the algorithm; the more you post the better chance you have of getting a hit post that attracts attention, which can then become self-sustaining. While not as popular as punchy videos, there’s a market for that on YT and I’m not familiar with very many other channels who do something similar.

        Finally, as much as I don’t like the thing, there’s a reason the YT algorithm exists and it’s fairly impressive that it works as well as it does. There’s millions upon millions of videos and it’s at least moderately successful at finding reasonably similar and enjoyable content. It’s biases are unfortunate but I’m not sure I could design better even with Google-level resources. This is not to excuse YT’s incredibly unfair business practices nor their willingness to stick the most loyal customers/creators in the back, which seems to be an unfortunate habit they learned from Papa Google.

  3. Ancillary says:

    4000 words of Bethesda bashing incoming? Shamus, you spoil us.

    1. raifield says:

      Yeah, I’m super looking forward to that. The last batch of Bethesda releases have been…not very good, with the possible exception of Elder Scrolls Online which I manage to enjoy as a causal relax-after-work exploration game.

    2. RFS-81 says:

      Yeah, I appreciate the advance warning so I can stock up on popcorn :)

      I’m pretty sure the title will spark more interest than, say, “Skinner’s box”. I’ve recently got some videos recommended saying, roughly, “Bethesda was never good”. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing for Shamus. Does it mean he’s talking about a hot topic or late to the party?

  4. tmtvl says:

    5. Maybe a large part of the market has been cornered by various established, dedicated channels who do this thing full-time?

    I don’t have any numbers, but I feel like a large chunk of the potential viewership has already flocked to so-called “communities” of content creators, meaning that it’s getting harder for individual content creators to get their breakthrough without a bump of an established creator.

    1. Kathryn says:

      Based on watching my husband watch assorted YouTube channels (I don’t typically watch them myself), this is my impression. For a given niche interest (tinkering with cars, gaming, science education, hunting/fishing), there are already multiple established channels with tons of videos and subscribers. Getting new material into the existing “you may also like” recommendations has to be very challenging – if you just liked a video from MightyCarMods, well, they’ve got hundreds more videos you’re probably going to like as well, and then here’s hundreds more videos from…those guys who make go-carts, I can’t think of their channel name. And so on.

      There’s also the possibility that people are hesitant to watch something that doesn’t have likes. Back when I read fanfic, when I ran across a new one, I’d check the last chapter. If it had over a hundred reviews, that was pretty popular for that site and meant the story was likely good. If it had only 10-15 reviews, then I wouldn’t bother. Perhaps the same phenomenon applies on YouTube.

      1. Asdasd says:

        Yeah, I think these dynamics apply to (almost?) every oversupplied market, with power laws ultimately deciding the shape of the pile. You can be a king, a prince, or a pauper – in youtube terms, a sliver rack up 100,000s of views, a slightly larger rump content themselves with 10,000s, and everyone else gets nothing(, good day sir!)

        Popularity begets popularity. Even then, as I understand it, the ad revenue from anything less than millions of views is pretty insignificant, and you have to be able to convert viewers into patrons (or some other tertiary business model) to make an actual living.

        Where gaming content is concerned, what you really need is a niche or USP that can’t be found any or many other places. So if you look at the likes of Ross Scott, his Game Dungeon series thrives because he’s one of the few people covering obscure older games and executing at a highly watchable quality. Shamus’s videos are good but they’re perhaps too similar to what’s already being done. Whereas what keeps me coming back to his blog is the long-form, high quality analysis of individual games that I can’t find anywhere else.

        1. Bloodsquirrel says:

          I don’t think they’re too similar as much as they don’t have an easily identifiable hook. He talks about a lot of random different subjects without any real gimmick.

          As ridiculous as it sounds, I think that catchphrases, taglines, and similar strategies to sell content do kind of help out. Mauler’s “An Unbridled Rage” series, for example, both has a bait-y title and establishes a sort of brand. He can market his videos that way, even though they’re far more composed and analytical than the title would suggest. Hooks like “Hi, I’m the Nostalgia Critic, I remember it so you don’t have to!” make it easy for viewers to get an idea of what they’re looking at.

          1. Benden says:

            This, this, this. We know what Shamus’ brand is around here (extremely smart, thinky griping with forays into hammering away at engineering challenges, which sometimes turns into thinky griping). But the brand is not well performed on YouTube.

            Many YouTubers perform brand vocally or physically on camera (Angry Videogame Nerd, Yahtzee). I don’t think this is a great fit for Shamus, though a spoken tagline wouldn’t hurt.

            Others perform brand with assets (Errant Signal, also Yahtzee). The latter can involve things that are easy to identify (visually distinctive art style, particularly in titles and slides; music or sound effects that identify the content type) and things that are less so (visual gags with no matching audio content that fill white space in the narration, repeating characters, in-jokes and Easter eggs).

            Here’s the problem. I think it’s possible that Shamus’ videos have material in them that is meant to create brand in this latter, asset-driven way. I bet he’s using a clip of his own music, which are in general I like quite a bit. I bet he has a title slide style, and I bet he has end credits on a particular style, and I bet all of that is consistent across most of these videos. And I don’t remember anything at all about them except that I always watch the end credits because I half expect a joke in there. (Have there actually ever been any? I don’t remember.)

            This is not good! So I guess I might say the titles need to be more visually distinctive. And the music needs to be more sting-y.

            If I didn’t know that I was watching a Shamus video because I know Shamus as a personality (sorry Shamus) from this site, and I watched several of them, I don’t know that I would remember that they were all by the same person.

            But Shamus didn’t have many of these features in his previous videos. (The chalkboard/whiteboard ones a notable exception, and using the copyrighted music that helped make rollercoaster bowling so incredible is not a workable long term solution.) So could this fix the numbers problem?

            Maybe. I think it depends a lot on whether the numbers problem is coming from the part of the algorithm that has to do with re-watching, sharing, and engagement, or if it comes from the part of the algorithm that has to do with content. If I had to guess I would say that the former part of the algorithm is a lot stronger and a lot more powerful than the latter, because YouTube is just not very smart about content.

            So I would say that recognizable, memorable branding might be a good exercise and might make a real impact on the series’ performance metrics… but it won’t be fast. Brand is established over time, with repetition.

            1. RichardW says:

              I’m still a little surprised that he didn’t just keep Reset Button as the name for his youtube “columns”. It was already a pretty well-established little series with fairly good, recognizable branding that people might have liked seeing pop up again. “This Dumb Industry” is much less catchy even if more on-topic, and while there may be a handful who remember it vaguely from The Escapist I doubt it has much recognition.

              I really think that lack of production value is keeping people away. It’s a very basic level of editing for the most part, which for the main content of the video might not be so bad if there were better bookends at the start and end. However I do think increasing slides per minute could probably liven things up and keep the viewer engaged, since as some have pointed out Shamus can occasionally sound like the teacher going “Bueller” over and over.

              The overall form feels like it’s taking some inspiration from Yahtzee’s work, leaning into that even further by using more random images to illustrate points in amusing ways could help a lot. Falling back on game footage is easy and saves time, but can distract people from the point you’re trying to make unless the footage in question is directly relevant to what you’re discussing.

              1. Sleeping Dragon says:

                Actually I think “This Dumb Industry” is a pretty solid brand, just not necessarily for what Shamus is doing. It matches some of the columns but not all, and it does bring to mind someone more like Jim Sterling whereas Shamus is pretty chill and often goes out of his way to assign blame to specific people/parties.

              2. Benden says:

                Agreed all around. I want to especially pile on the part about the footage being directly relevant to the voiceover. Otherwise it’s just fill—I’m not watching a video, I’m listening to a readaloud of a blog or a one-person podcast. Those are not really things for a reason.

        2. Lino says:

          Another big problem with sustaining yourself from ads is the very low amount of CPC (in YouTube terms – how much money a view is worth) nowadays. This is especially bad in video games, as the demographics for it are among the absolute worst – while some verticals can bring numbers like 3 cents per view, the most recent number I’ve seen for people watching gaming, it’s 0.003 cents per view.

          1. Asdasd says:

            So a gaming video that got a million views would make its creator 30 dollars? Jesus Christ.

            What are the categories making three cents per view? Perhaps things with high value and high volume sell-through, like cosmetics reviews?

            1. Lino says:

              More like 3000 dollars. And the price depends a lot on the time of year (e.g. November-December is highest, while January is lowest).

              A gross oversimplification, but the highest prices are for things marketed towards housewives – not only do they make the bulk of a household’s purchasing decisions, but they’re much more likely to click an ad and make a purchase compared to most other demographics.

              1. DaveMc says:

                Seems like we’re running into the difference between dollars and cents … 0.003 cents per view would indeed be $30 per million views (3000 cents), whereas 0.003 dollars per view would be $3000. The latter is more in line with the rough estimates I’ve heard in the past: millions of views translates, with all sorts of caveats, into the ballpark of thousands of dollars.

                1. Lino says:

                  Yeah, my mistake – $0.003 – a third of a cent.

          2. Retsam says:

            Do you have a source for this? I don’t mean that in the usual “I don’t believe you until you prove it”; but I could actually really use some good sources for information about ad revenue.

            1. DaveMc says:

              I’m thinking of the CGP Grey video called “This Video Made $X at Auction: How Ads Work on YouTube” (where $X was $3388 when I looked, but I think it’s somehow updated using a script – the title changed rapidly when video was first released but seems to have settled down now). He discusses the auction process and gives an overall average figure of $1400 (creator portion of the total ad revenue) per million views.


              1. DaveMc says:

                And I just belatedly did the obvious math on this: the video has about 3.5 million views, so the video itself is coming out at a bit less than $1000 per million views. Oh, and the video description says that’s split 60/40 with YouTube, so it’s really more like $600 for the creator per million views.

                I know from listening to his podcast (Hello Internet), that Mr. Grey has found that making a living entirely from YouTube ad revenue is not really a sustainable model for him, so he (and many others) have moved in other directions like Patreon support.

            2. Lino says:

              I’ve tried to reply to you five times already, but every time my comment gets marked as spam, and I’m getting inda tired of trying to find a way to get past the spam filter.

              Seeing as there are a lot of people commeting, there’s basically zero percent chance that Shamus will release my comment from Purgatory. But if you’re interested in this type of data, you could search for SEO Tools on Google to see for yourself how much each keyword is worth (I’d gladly suggest some to you, but Mr Spam Filter will get angry, and you wouldn’t like him whe he’s angry). YouTube has their own terms, but I don’t think I can say it without inflicting the wrath of the Spam Filter.

        3. Joshua says:

          “Popularity begets popularity.”

          This is true in so many things. I’ve always phrased it as “people want to be where other people already are”. This comes up a lot in MMO-style games. In the past, I’ve run NWN servers, and we’ve actually used the trick of leaving accounts logged into the server during the day, because nothing works against attracting visitors like seeing 0 visitors already there. The same goes for MMO Guilds and the like, or even real-world hobby groups.

          I’ve been in so many groups that have taken the attitude of “This group of people, this is good” when it comes to recruitment. Well, real life happens and attrition starts affecting membership, and it’s not until the point where it’s already a problem when these groups start trying to recruit more members, which makes it harder to do so. “Please join our group so we actually have enough members to do things” is not a great selling point.

          The basic problem is that to attract people, you need to already have people.

      2. jpuroila says:

        There’s also the fact that youtube’s recommendation algorithm is bloody useless in general, so I would assume that a lot of people just ignore the recommendations. For me, it mostly recommends videos I’ve already watched.

        1. Lino says:

          I love it when it does that! Most days I feel like YouTube is a platform that hosts 15 channels in total, and there’s nothing interesting to watch. It’s almost as bad as cable!

        2. Bloodsquirrel says:

          I recently found out that if you play “All I Want for Christmas is You” on Youtube and then leave it to its own devices you’ll wind up with it going back and forth between different versions of that and “Last Christmas” for a while.

          1. Asdasd says:

            I actually have a separate browser for when I want to search youtube, as I don’t want the searches polluting my algorithm. I learned the hard way when in a moment of nostalgia I got curious about what was going on with the new series of Dragon Ball. The answer wasn’t particularly edifying, and my recommendations were filled with angry nerds complaining about anime for weeks.

            1. Lino says:

              I use private browsing when I want to watch something on a whim. If YouTube Premium offered a better recommendation experience, I would definitely subscribe, because their algorithm can work. Case in point – I’ve recently stumbled upon at least two channels that I wouldn’t have otherwise known about if it hadn’t been recommended on my homepage.

            2. tmtvl says:

              One of the channels I watch is doing an LP of Dragon Quest Builders 2 and every one of those videos has a bunch of content aimed at kids in the recommends, which I find extremely off-putting.

              But then I’m a dinosaur who remembers children spending their free time playing outside with their friends, so YMMV.

          2. Sleeping Dragon says:

            Oddly enough The Algorithm (dundunDUNNN) has been pretty good for me with music of various degrees of indieness. For example I got one The Mechanisms album in a steampunk music bundle and was checking for more of their work, stumbled at least upon The Cog Is Dead, Steam Powered Giraffe and Clockwork Dolls through recommendations (directly or after several steps, wasn’t always the first recommendation either). I’ve actually discovered a bunch of bands this way that I probably wouldn’t otherwise.

            That said it’s been pretty rubish with other stuff, like repeatedly recommending things I’ve seen already when I’m on a specific channel (Jim Sterling and Loading Ready Run seem particularly prone to this, probably because I’m fairly caught up with their content) or in case of semi-random videogame related vidoes constantly trying to direct me towards clickbaity listvids like “10 amazing things you didn’t know about Skyrim”, or “20 best easter eggs in the history of videogames”.

            It might have something to do with the tagging system? Like similar bands (particularly the more niche ones) will get similar tags and a combination like “music, steampunk, narrative, indie” might be somewhat rare whereas “video games, Skyrim, funny” is probably in the hundreds of thousands so The Algorithm (dun…) just serves you the popular stuff because it’s incapable of deeper judgement.

            1. Ninety-Three says:

              The algorithm is exceptionally bad with Starcraft. I watch a lot of Starcraft 2 tournament videos, and because the algorithm doesn’t understand sequencing more complicated than putting “Part 5” in the title, my recommendations fill up with stuff like “GSL Group D, Parting vs Soo”, seemingly random matches grabbed from the middle of a hundred-game tournament. The worst part is that it likes to stick four or five of them in the same recommendation list. Oh, you don’t want to watch GSL Group F, Dude vs Guy? What about GSL Group B, Friend vs Buddy? Then surely you’ll want to check out IEM Katowice Urist vs Wambler.

              1. Dev Null says:

                It’s decided that you’re clearly a big fan of “Group vs.”

  5. Rack says:

    The algorithm would probably be pretty happy if you stopped making text versions of your video content. For me I prefer text content to video content so whenever you do one of these I just read the text post and never bother watching the video.

    1. Benden says:

      This would, unfortunately, definitely improve the blog-to-YouTube conversion rate. I watch the videos very intentionally but I almost missed two because on my phone they kind of looked like pictures, and I scrolled right past. Later I was like “wait… that article didn’t fit in any existing article publishing schedule or series I know of. I bet that was a video.”

      Anyway, converting blog readers more effectively could have real positive outcome in engagement metrics. Or it could have almost no impact because people come from an outside source that isn’t social media. Who knows?

  6. Lino says:

    It’s a real bummer you get so few views on your series. I hope things turn around for you, and you get some useful advice in this thread.

    I wonder, how willing are you to experiment with more click-baity video titles and thumbnails? E.g. more descriptive titles taking advantage of keywords – “I was wrong about Borderlands 3 | Borderlands 3 Review” (“Borderlands 3 Video” would be more accurate, but it has a much lower search volume); I think the main reason the Raytracing video got so many views was thanks to the fact that it was a very talked-about term the week you posted it.

    Also, have you considered doing “Top 10” videos? Whenever I hear a personality talk about making it big on YouTube, Top 10s is among the advice everybody gives. And it’s true – whenever I see a Top 10 by a mid- or large-sized YouTuber, they always have more views than their normal videos (viral videos notwithstanding).

    Trying to get some collaborations going would be a sure-fire way to get more views. The only question is who to partner with.

    Also, I don’t think it’s too late to migrate this series to a new channel – maybe the high number of subs really does throws YT’s algorithm off. Or, it could be because you’ve failed to conduct the proper rites to appease the Great Almighty Google Overlord – Taskmaster of the 34 Planes of the Internet. Did you make sure to sacrifice a virgin goat under the pale moonlight while reciting the “Binary Incantation of Viewership Generation”?

    1. Geebs says:

      If you don’t have a spare goat available, gurning against a lime green backdrop may be an acceptable alternative.

  7. Jackie says:

    For the video-article pairs, I generally watch the video first, and then go over the article for footnotes and other additional details; reading the article and then going over the video for extra stuff would be a bother.
    As for the footnotes, maybe just have them as text in the video itself? Overly Sarcastic Productions has sidenotes on the videos in this way, and it seems to work.

  8. Ninety-Three says:

    Some scrips are under 1,000 words

    Typo patrol: scripts.

  9. Duoae says:

    Issac and I agreed we should give it a few more months and see if the show grows.

    Realistically, I think this might be a good idea. It’s difficult to get repeat views if there’s not enough constant content that can be consumed and be seen to exist. You mentioned in the podcast that Joseph Anderson isn’t really releasing stuff anymore… unfortunately, I’ve only come into knowledge of his content as per your recent-ish discussions on the podcast so I didn’t subscribe to his channel because I can see it’s not really outputting anything anymore.

    I think you guys have a difficult job for the content production side of things. First off, you’re not a “video first” production. Shooting video of the narrator/presenter is relatively “cheap” compared to crafting a completely “animated” video. (Think how much more difficult it is to record audio instead of just writing text.) Secondly, if you cover new stuff, you have to put that recording into the schedule before you start playing and if it’s not new content then you may need to go back and get a capture of that content… which can be time consuming.

    Finally, I think that you’re wrong about the footnotes not translating well to video – I think they are directly applicable to humourous asides during a more serious section. In fact, you do use this specific trait of public speaking in your videos, you just don’t have cross-over between the text/video of the specific asides/footnotes.

    I’m going to take a bit of a look at the metrics you’re recording above (mentioned in the article) but the primary one I’m not seeing is “time to produce”. I think that an audit (if it’s possible) of how much time you spend per video would be helpful for you and Isaac.

    For example, in my last job, we broke down our weekly/daily working hours into specific projects (because we worked across more than 10-20 projects – some historical) during a year and the higher-ups liked to track which projects were utilising the most resources because we were tracking total spend as well as spend per project combined with manpower per project. Sometimes the can be surprising maintenance costs associated with an otherwise profitable project that would not be visible when taking only development into account.

    1. Duoae says:

      As an example, I don’t think Slides or SPM are useful metrics because they have no measurement of the effort to create each one. Obtaining a screenshot could be 30 seconds or 3 hours. Writing some black text onto a white background could be 3 minutes. Obtaining video capture could be zero time because you already have it in stock and the actual time is finding the correct point in the game in your stock footage – which could, again, be near instantaneous or take forever!

      Another useful metric might be (and I’ve no idea if you can see this in the youtube stats) is the speed at which each of those amounts of views were achieved. For example, I noted that Domino Worldbuilding achieved more than 2K in a few hours whereas some other ones took a couple of days to do that… Total views is important but speed at which that was achieved could be more indicative.

      1. Duoae says:

        One of the things that’s always difficult to really achieve early on in an endeavour is that costs (time and/or money) will be higher during the early stages of setting up as the process is refined and personnel become more optimal in their performance.

        This is, I believe, the reason that start-ups are “allowed” to shed money as they get up to speed. Shamus and Isaac have, over the last few months, optimised the video creation process and also the process of dual creating the content, for example.

        There has to also be an associated benefit for reusing the same content for a blog post too… i.e. if it costs X time to create a blogpost and Z time to create a video but to make one video and blogpost combined costs (Z+Y) time… as long as Y is equal to or smaller than X (I presume it would be smaller than X because Shamus said that the text is ported from the video to some extent) then you have created two pieces of consumable content which can cater to two different audiences.

        So, another metric to consider would be combined stats – how long to create the blogpost, the views and also traffic sources to the blog (which I suppose you might have more granularity on compared to the youtube videos). i.e. it seems possible that a blogpost would essentially be “free” in comparison with authoring the text in totality and finding images to post with it. Similar to how the Spoiler Warning posts were “free” content for the blog.

        (Another) Finally, does Isaac take on any of the writing duties or is he just the person putting it all together? Is there some way to parallelise the process? I mean, I have no insight into your workings at all (except from what I’ve read on the blog or heard on the podcast and even that is constrained by my stupid ageing memory) but is there scope for multiple videos/blogposts/series to be created in tandem or is there a linear process that bottlenecks the content?

        1. Duoae says:

          Okay, one last final, final, thought…. I remember seeing that you can see the average “watched” time per view for the video. That would be a useful metric too since, sure, “What’s the deal with raytracing?” could have 5.5 K views but if they all quit after 1 minute then it wasn’t your most successful video of the new series.

          Of course, it’s possible you’re doing this analysis but, like I said, I don’t have visibility into your process.

  10. GargamelLeNoir says:

    My only complaint about your videos is when you show absolutely unrelated gameplay footage. I get that it’s a huge time saver, but it feels so cheap it’s distracting. I know that having every single frame being 100% relevant to what you’re saying is untenable, but I think there is a happy medium to be found where we generally see footage linked to the conversation, with regular (at *least* once per minute) images with jokes or information cut in.
    Unlike Kornel Krzysztof B?aszczyk I enjoy your pronunciation for what it’s worth, calming and pleasant without being boring, occasionally facetious (like in the Blizzard video).

    I think videos are a good play, but I think to bring people to the blog you also need a new DM of the Rings like project. Not necessarily a webcomic, but something to show your creative talent. Maybe a tabletop RPG podcast? Those are very popular, and instead of the usual D&D fare you could use those sci-fi ideas you said you have.
    It’s about time some twenty sided dice were rolling again around here…

    1. Kornel Blaszczyk says:

      Tastes, I do hope that Yours is more prevailing :)

    2. Duoae says:

      I guess everyone has their foilbles. For Kornel Krzysztof B?aszczyk it’s presentation, for you it’s unrelated (though I never thought the footage was completely unrelated?) content playing. You could level the same argument against creators that do a one-take video recording.

      The problem, as far as I can see it, isn’t that there’s a single thing that will fix the low views – it’s that there’s many things that can be tried but there’s a limited time/budget to achieve it in.

      From my point of view, I think production issues are less of an issue than the visibility issue. I don’t think it’s useful for Shamus to compare prior high-view content with current content due to a couple of factors:

      – Different type of content
      – Current Relevence of content
      – Cross-linking of content

      On its own, the Rollercoaster tycoon video is not interesting, nor relevant but someone (probably multiple somoenes) linked the video to large installed bases of viewers who were willing to click through to the video. I’m not sure how to go about addressing that problem because, as Shamus notes in the post, promoting something yourself is not necessarily as helpful as other people promoting it.

      Ideally, you’d craft content which would *want* to be shared. i.e. content that the likes of Kotaku would share – that doesn’t mean it would be low quality…. it’s just a different focus: Different games, different topics, etc.

      1. Lino says:

        One of the ways channels do promotion is by making collaborations with other channels – either ones of similar size or (preferably) bigger ones. Of course, getting a collab with a similar-sized channel won’t get as many views, and a getting a collab with bigger channel is tricky.

        Generally, if you go with smaller channels, you should aim for quantity, and if you aim for bigger channels, you should try to leverage expertise they could find useful (in Shamus’ case that could be his technical background or his long-form retrospectives).

        1. Duoae says:

          Yeah, I’ve definitely seen this but the current type of content created by Shamus for the videos is not really amenable to cross-promotion. The podcast and the blog, however, are.

          But yeah, it’s a good point. That’s why I mentioned in the past if it was possible to “shop” the youtube stuff to a publication like The Escapist.

          1. Lino says:

            I was imagining something like a two-way analysis – e.g. get someone like Campster or Architect of Games to analyze the visual design of Control (a popular series of his is on graphic design in games), and have Shamus appear in the middle or end of the video with a brief summary of how Raytracing helps deliver that visual design. Then, the collaborator says “If you want to learn more about Raytracing and the technology used in creating games, head over to Shamus Young’s channel”, and it would link to a video by Shamus. Of course, Shamus’ video will be similar in linking to his collaborator.

            I’ve seen it done by Extra Credits, and a number of other channels, and it seems to work well enough.

            But shopping his videos to gaming websites is also a very solid idea.

            1. Duoae says:

              Ah, okay. You envisaged it as a sort of segment within another work. Yeah, that could work. I was imagining it as some sort of back-and-forth style of thing.

          2. DeadlyDark says:

            Speaking of cross promotions. I kinda want to see Shamus invite Mauler and spend whole diecast discussing objective/subjective in media reviews. Totally selfish wish on my part

            1. tmtvl says:

              Usually it’s the other way around, MauLer inviting people to come on EFAP. But I’m not sure Shamus’d be up for 12 hours of chatting.

    3. Lino says:

      Maybe a tabletop RPG podcast? Those are very popular

      Really? I’m not that much into the scene, but all the Tabletop channels I occasionally follow have seen a massive drop in views the past year or so (How to be a Great DM, Seth Skorkowsky, etc). The only one I see doing fine is Critical Role.

      1. GargamelLeNoir says:

        Not Another Dnd Podcast, Adventure Zone and Dimension 20 are doing fantastic. And there are a ton of others at Geek&Sundries that work nicely.

    4. Lars says:

      My only complaint about your videos is when you show absolutely unrelated gameplay footage.

      That is what bothered me in the first, the Vulkan video – showing Rage 2 content over and over without even metioning, that Rage 2 did use that API instead of DirectX. Same goes for Control in the Raytracing video – where you could have comparing video footage of Control in Raytracing and Control in Rasterisation because that game could do both. But the Source engine demos for explanation where a good fit.
      And you and Isaac got better. Domino Worldbuilding had a lot of fitting pictures to the words told.

  11. Thomas Adamson says:

    Just let your son learn how to edit video. That’s a deployable skill. Maybe get him to make some content.

  12. Bloodsquirrel says:

    As an aside: I’m convinced that despite the widespread corporate obsession with social media, Reddit is the only useful platform if you’re trying to promote something.

    I’ve consistently heard from experts in the field that email lists, as archaic as they sound, are the best way to promote things. That, and in the podcast world, being/having guests. Getting together with anyone who has a Youtube presence and doing a stream every once in a while might also help.

    Relying on YouTube’s algorithm is definitely madness. Your content is very poorly suited to it, since it’s not chasing after the big controversy of the moment and thus isn’t going to be picked up by the “Hey, you just watched a video about how Star Wars shat itself. Would you like to watch these five other videos about Star Wars?” logic. It would also probably be a good idea to release your podcast on Youtube. It might seem silly and redundant, but it adds content to the channel and more video titles that could be caught in a search or register on an algorithm.

    Of course, I’ve always been a fan of the idea of doing more comics. Both articles and youtube videos have a high time investment for new readers/viewers who don’t know who you are, but a good 1-page comic is easy enough to consume that it can be shared on a website like 9gag and have a chance to go viral.

    1. Lino says:

      Putting the podcast on YouTube is a good idea – it usually discusses current events, and having topical content might be good for the algorithm (also, as you said, there may be the odd person searching for said current events and stumble upon the podcast and channel).

      1. Bloodsquirrel says:

        Now that I think about it, actually, pretty much every podcaster I listen to also puts their podcasts on places like Soundcloud, Stitcher, etc. I’m not sure how many new people those places bring to the podcast, but even the really big names with their own websites who you wouldn’t think would need it still keep a multi-platform presence.

        1. Wiseman says:

          The Diecast is also on podbean. It doesn’t have many followers though. It’s convenient.

    2. Bloodsquirrel says:

      EDIT: Actually, I think it’s even worse than that. There are two reasons people will watch something- either because they’re an existing fan of the creator, or because they’re interested in the subject material. A video about worldbuilding might go over well at a place like /r/worldbuilding, but the subject matter of worldbuilding itself probably isn’t engaging enough to most people to get them to try out a new creator if it isn’t also linked to something currently more popular. In other words, a video about why the Disney Star Wars trilogy has lousy worldbuilding (where you could compare it to both the original trilogy and Mass Effect).

      It’s tricky, since you’re not interested in chasing trends or stepping into controversies, but you might need to find ways to talk about the things that you want to talk about while linking them to the current fad/dumpster fire.

  13. Lars says:

    You got the most views for Vulkan and Raytracing (The Hot New Shit TM) and for “The Dumbest Cutscene”. A title suggesting 1. I make fun of something, 2. There isn’t any worse. With the first you had the right video for the right time, the second is about nitpicking which a lot of youtube watchers enjoy or antagonize your opinion. Both fit the youtube audience a bit more, than the other titles.

    The little added text about reddit over facebook and why, together with “Why I quit twitter” in video format would bring you some views, I think. Title: Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, Youtube – Who will survive? – or something like that.

    1. Sleeping Dragon says:

      Looking at the graphs I was wondering how many of “The Dumbest Cutscene” views are because of the title, which does draw attention, and how many are there because it’s, well, an analysis of a cutscene so it helps to see what’s being commented on.

  14. BlueBlazeSpear says:

    Well, if you’re interested in the metrics, I’ll start with the bits of mine that might be relevant in someone weighing what I have to say: I enjoy most of what you do, but I’m not currently paying you anything through Patreon. That isn’t commentary on what I think of your work – I just don’t care for the Patreon business model. You’re part of a small handful of people I would throw money at if that was the sort of thing that I did. As it is, the only time that I’ve paid for your content is for a book about an A.I. murder mystery. I’m perfectly fine with the “pay one amount, get a specific product or service” business model and I would gladly pay for any future books.

    As for you creating any synergy between your videos and you blog, it just seems like a hard sell. For me, I’m primarily looking at your blog while I’m at work. Something that I can’t do at work is sit here and watch Youtube videos. With the way you’ve been doing both the blog post and the video, what I’ve been doing is that I’ll read the blog post and have all of the interactions about the subject here on the blog, and if I remember later to watch the video, it’s strictly to support you there and help those numbers. Generally speaking, if I have a choice between reading about a thing or watching a video about a thing, I’ll opt for the reading unless it’s a visually-intensive thing like taking apart a carburetor or something.

    The thing is, I don’t know that you’re doing anything particularly wrong with the videos, it’s just that I feel no compulsion to watch them beyond showing you support. And that’s not to say that I think that you should stop the videos or anything because there’s for sure that audience out there. I just have the sense that the Youtube audience is fickle and the algorithm is… suspect. Your video content is right in the wheelhouse of what I’d want to watch on Youtube, but your videos are never suggested to me. On the other hand, it’s pretty regularly suggesting weird political stuff that I’m not interested in.

    I also find that I’m more drawn not just to a story, but the engagement that happens with it. When you post an article on this blog and I feel like I have something to say about it, I can comment and there’s a high likelihood that others will have intelligent and/or interesting things to say in response. The resulting back-and-forth can be entertaining if not enlightening. For the most part, I just like the type of fan that this blog draws. Commenting in most Youtube videos is basically like shouting into a black hole. The medium just doesn’t seem to draw the same type of fan. Honestly, I’d just rather hang with the people who start a reply with “Actually…” and not with people who literally post “first” for the first comment.

    I’m sure that’s completely unhelpful, but that’s what I have to say about it. Maybe you should start making videos about taking apart carburetors? I’m sure that if there was some easily-definable magic bullet to success, we’d all be kings.

    1. Lino says:

      Commenting in most Youtube videos is basically like shouting into a black hole.

      And if you’re lucky, that black hole will throw some feces at you :D

      And yeah, I also have some trouble watching these videos at work, which is why I watch them on my phone while at work. Then, I open them on my work computer, and mute the tab. That way I can listen to music while creating two views even though I’ve only watched the video once. Take THAT, YouTube!

  15. Kincajou says:

    Hey Shamus no better way to trigger the scientist in me than pulling out charts and graphs, i have a few questions/comments:

    – Why do you seem to favour bar charts?
    Personally i’m a fan of graphs so that you can correlate Y vs X.

    Taking the liberty to use your data (bar the bethesda video, as that is still an unknown) and plotting the word count vs length there is quite a solid correlation (R^2 of 0.96, not perfect statistically but still good enough to consider) between your word length and your video time such that you can estimate your video length (in s) = 0.29 * (word count) + 33
    i’m curious in seing what your video for bethesda ends up being, from this quick estimate i’d guess you’ll probably fall around the 20 minute mark (similarily to your own estimate).

    Similarily, plotting word count vs views seems to pull out that views are unrelated to wordcount and that you’re hovering around 2500-3000 views on each video. The views should probably be adjusted to take into account that the videos have been up for different lengths of time but that’s beyond “10 fun minutes with graphs” sort of thing.

    Also there doesn’t seem to be much of a correlation between views and the number of slides you include (though a certain correlation between video length and slides , as expected, does exist)

    From your bar charts i guess the most interesting correlation (for me) is the name vs views where you can see that there seems to be an (albeit relatively weak and probably difficult to exploit) connection with the name of a video and views (trigger words would be my guess).

    All in all, this would suggest to me that rather than releasing that bethesda as one single 20 minute video you may better off splitting it into a two parter (as length does not necessarily bring you more views you’d be doing a lot more work than a 10 minute video but reaping the rewards of the same 10 minute video). It also helps with having a consistent “brand” where the length of your videos is relatively consistent week-to-week.

    This of course is only my opinion from those three graphs that i made in 10 min from your data. If i overstepped the line in using and analysing your data without your consent you have my apologies (And it’s perfectly understandable, your post after all isn’t a free-for all “analyse my data for me” but rather a “here are some things i’m learning from the youtube experience”) and please do not hesitate to delete the comment.

  16. Eric Fletcher says:

    I don’t watch your videos because I don’t watch “person talking” videos in general, but in other cases, people have put little floating “clickable” labels over their video in order to link to other content.

    And you can put footnotes as an un-mentioned text overlay for a couple seconds (folks can pause if they want to read it, or skip them, same as on the blog)

    1. Benden says:

      I am in favor of anything Shamus and Isaac can do to add visual gags, and floating text notes would be very welcome.

    2. Erik says:

      And you can put footnotes as an un-mentioned text overlay for a couple seconds (folks can pause if they want to read it, or skip them, same as on the blog)

      This was my take-away. One of my favorite channels is Adam Neely’s, and he regularly tosses in footnotes and jokes as static quarter- to half-second screens full of text explanations for things that aren’t worth stopping the video for… as well as thank-you’s to viewers that actually stop to read. :) I often see those flash by and pause to go back, because there’s gems in there.

  17. Blacky says:

    If you’re doing it right, pushing basic (most people would qualify that as “decent”, I’m picky) level of videos on a regular basis, it looks like it takes a year to get a nano but stable audience, and another year to get a small audience that works.

    To grow that further, it’s work, talent, chance (although chance can be helped, both the right way and the wrong way). As you said, it needs some amount of virality here and there, sprinkles that will push you toward a small critical mass.

    But again, that’s one to two years of weekly to monthly videos (depending on the format and the quality), and working Reddit in a smart way for each and every one. You’ve been at this nowhere long enough, imho.

    1. Lino says:

      I think Twitter can also help in driving traffic. Of course, that would involve being part of a conversation that can often get extremely ugly. I don’t know if it’s possible to keep yourself out of the shitstorm and still have a decent following, but maybe it’s a good idea for him to go back on Twitter.

      It’s also a good idea to comment on videos – sometimes I see a comment with a lot of upvotes, and if it’s particularly well-written, I’ll go on the person’s channel and watch a couple of videos (if they have any). Yes, very few people engage with comments, but if you comment on a video with 100s of thousands of views, then the people commenting are in the thousands.

      1. Duoae says:

        I don’t know if it makes any difference but i usually link shamus’ videos o Twitter and hashtag them to relevant communities (e.g. writing communities in the last one). I don’t know what percentage of readers of the blog do that but, yeah, having a central Twitter account for “this dumb industry” as opposed to “shamus young” might be helpful.

  18. ccesarano says:

    I started to see a drop in average views on my channel in 2017. At first I thought it was because I went from a game like Homefront to Toren, the latter being a small janky indie game that no one really played or heard of. My view counts were never great, but within the first seven days Homefront had 400 views total. Toren, on the other hand, didn’t even hit 100. Then I began to wonder if it was due to a long absence, where Homefront released July 3rd of 2016 and Toren didn’t release until April 8th of 2017. That’s what, 9-ish months without a single video?

    Since then, I haven’t had a single video reach 250 views or more. I had to unlist two of my early videos – Aliens: Colonial Marines and a video on Iron Man 3’s The Mandarin – because if YouTube recommended anything of mine, it was one of those two due to the high viewer counts. Both had atrocious watch time, though, and I personally no longer enjoy either video nor believe them representative of my channel. But because they had high view counts, YouTube thought it made sense to recommend them, I guess, regardless of average watch time.

    I don’t currently have my channel set to monetization, either. I don’t want to rely on YouTube’s system, and monetization seems to trigger a whole bunch of camping content claim bots as it is. I wondered if this might impact YouTube’s recommendations, but after some research the answer I found was “probably not”.

    I think, realistically, there’s a whole assortment of factors that work against me, and others. The first is that I have never had a steady updating speed. The second is that, during my long breaks due to depression, YouTube introduced the notification bell and subscription notifications became more unreliable (and, from what I’ve heard, even the bell doesn’t guarantee a notification). I also suspect a good chunk of my 484 subscriber count is now dormant or abandoned accounts.

    But the face of YouTube also changed. I started in 2013 right when MrBTongue, Smudboy, MatthewMatosis, TheGamingBrit, and some other folks were breaking into the scene. Production values were generally low, microphones were affordable and thus not the best quality, and there was a real “garage” approach to the thing. But even then, if you look at my first video, the production values were awful. If I weren’t so attached to the RamblePak64 name, I’d probably have rebooted my channel wholesale in 2018. However, I also don’t believe in deleting the past (which is why the two above videos are unlisted rather than deleted or set to private). I want my mistakes to be out there so I and others can be reminded of how far I’ve come. I just… don’t think that works positively for YouTube these days.

    Regardless of my personal growth, I never managed to strike while the iron was hot because my production was too low and my writing far less refined. Bob Case and Smudboy both struck the Mass Effect 3 thing while the iron was hot, and while I swiftly stopped watching Smudboy due to his going off the rails, Bob managed to speak to a lot of people at the time that wanted an honest, in-depth look at something like BioWare games. He struck an audience. MatthewMatosis had an in-depth analysis of the 3D Zelda games and Metal Gear Solid, providing something a lot of console gamers were hungry for: meaningful analysis of favorite franchises.

    Which I think is the trick. ValkyrieAurora’s channel exploded when she came right out of the gate with a lore summary of the Nier/Drakengard games, something that was bound to pick up as anticipation for Nier: Automata built pre-release. Immediately she developed an audience and has since carried through playing a lot of quirky JRPGs, most notably as of late the Atelier series. She’s got a following due to hitting niche, under-served gaming audiences.

    “A gimmick” is, I think, what really helps with those views and that consistent audience, and it’s where I know I’ll always struggle. Or, as someone above said, a “hook”. But at the same time, we’re no longer in that underground garage days of YouTube. Guys like SkillUp and Game Maker’s Toolkit will emphasize production values in part. Get a professional-grade microphone and start learning how to make fancy charts or other such things for your videos, etc. etc. And it’s like… man, I work full-time. And I want to keep working full-time. I like having health care and a retirement plan. I don’t want YouTube to be my full-time job. Sure, it’d be a more enjoyable one, but I see all the stress it adds other YouTubers and just… nah, man.

    But that, I think, is the frustration. I’ve been pretty scatter-brained with this post, but I think there’s a lot of stuff that happened. The first is that, if you had a YouTube channel from several years ago and suddenly start uploading, you may have less chance of being recommended or shared, or the videos that do get shared are not your newer videos representative of your channel’s current content. It probably is better to start fresh (and I might be finding out as I am thinking of creating a separate YouTube channel for my podcast). However, if you do, you are going to need some identifiable hook or niche that you’re covering. From there, it’s probably a matter of all the standard advice.

    However, there’s also something to be said about developing that “community” or “clique”. ValkyrieAurora also managed to become buddy buddy with other YouTubers like Clemps and SuperButterBuns, and in turn the three of them are able to share each other’s work, collaborate, expand one another’s followings, etc. I had a friend on YouTube do his best to mingle and become friendly with these cliques, but intentional or now, it was like trying to fit into a group in high school that’s already established. No one was malicious, but… he just wasn’t a natural fit.

    I gave up when I had a chance to share some of my work with Mark Brown of Game Maker’s Toolkit, and he didn’t even give it a chance. “Your video is longer than the stuff I typically watch, but it looks like you really put a lot of effort into it! Good job!” Then he goes and shares videos twice as long as mine in his regular reading list on Patreon.

    It… kind of stinks to be dismissed like that.

    Anyway, all of these words aren’t really helpful in any way except maybe solidarity. For my part, I’d be happy to have 500 average views with a solid watch time (because if you really dig into the analytics, that average watch time… it hurts… views are only useful for monetization, where the opening ad roll gets you money regardless). But, it requires your work to be shared, and as you noted, it’s more effective for someone else to go and plug your stuff than it is to plug yourself (because Reddit is full of people shilling their own material).

    Sadly, that, too, is more likely the larger your following gets.

    Like many things in life, making it big requires a lot of luck, or playing the algorithm game which gets rid of the actual enjoyment of content creation.

    1. Duoae says:

      Sorry to read about all that, man. Suffering from a mild depressive personality myself (and having gone through quite a few rough years recently) i can sympathise with what you wrote. I hope your channel gets more popular too :)

  19. Ibb says:

    I come to this site to read your articles, not watch videos. You’re right when you say gaming (and programming) blogs are practically a dead industry, which makes you all the more precious. You are the isometric story-driven RPG of the late-oughts. You are the text adventure in the tens. You are the point-and-click adventure after the fall of LucasArts and before Telltale.

    I still try to view your videos just to give you that boost in the algorithm’s eyes, but I usually just mute the video and go do something else.

    A suggestion for increasing engagement, etc.: Take a cue from Folding Ideas’s transition and actually appear on screen for a good chunk of the run time. Facial and gestural communication is actually fairly important. I know it will make your life significantly harder, but it may be worth it. Don’t turn your articles into audiobooks, turn them into movies!

    Regardless of what you do, thank you for continuing to post the written form. (And thank you for the occasional delve into programming articles, which is what brought me here in the first place.)

    1. Lars says:

      Take a cue from Folding Ideas’s transition and actually appear on screen for a good chunk of the run time. Facial and gestural communication is actually fairly important.

      Compare the views on your GTA5 streams, where you were shown on screen but hadn’t anything utterly important to say: Did they do better?
      Other than that: I agree. Facial expression is important. I for example do watch much more Scrapman, than kAN Gaming or Camodo Gaming footage, even though they make pretty much the same video content. Scrapman shows his face on screen, while the others donnot.

      1. tmtvl says:

        I stopped watching Necroscope when he started doing the facecam thing. As always, different strokes for different folks.

        1. Syal says:

          I feel like a facecam would contradict the current style. If your face is on screen, you’re selling your personality above everything else, which means you have to be eye-grabbingly expressive.

          An alternative middle ground would be the You Suck At Cooking/Lockpicking Lawyer route where just your hands are shown. Hands are expressive enough to sell a mood without being expressve enough to hijack the whole topic.

  20. Benden says:

    Re: Facebook. Just adding a note that Facebook is the definitive results getter for advertising a high school play to a local community. It’s possible that Facebook has no place in a broader, worldwide or nationwide advertising market. I can’t say about that.

    1. evileeyore says:

      Re: Reing: On Facebook

      Anecdotally I know, but I just recently (as in yesterday) got into a new (to me) series on Facebook because someone posted one of their videos in a group I’m in on Facebook. And in return, I got a friend into the series by also posting that video to my timeline.

      So, while it hasn’t necessarily driven mega traffic to the creator, that’s two new sets of eyes on his videos on Youtube, all because he created some videos that fit a definitive theme of a group on Facebook.

      1. Facebook will die says:

        Saying “Anecdotally I know” doesn’t make it not entirely anecdotal evidence being presented as data. It’s not a useful case study. And the result here is two clickthroughs-when I am promoting on Facebook, that is a failure. Sure, you can share things there, you can share stuff on any social media.

        Whether it is WORTH investing effort into promoting your stuff there is the question. If your fans want to share your stuff with their mates-that’s great, but that’s something you have next to no control over. If people are organically sharing your stuff on their socials-that is great. But putting effort into Facebook is a mistake-they will lie to you about your viewership, they will use the dodgiest metrics possible to try to get you to overspend, and the results aren’t worth speaking of.

    2. Facebook will die says:

      Facebook is good for organising events and getting people to like your page where you promote events-but that’s really it.

      I’ve tried putting video content on there, even promoted it-this video content was meant to promote an event. The clickthroughs and listens really aren’t worth it, the money spent, nor the time editing the video, which takes forever. I’ve tried promoting music I’ve made on there, I put the soundcloud or spotify links up, you get a few likes, but nowhere near the clickthroughs-because when people come across it, they’re on their phone, or they do what I do-continue browsing, add it to their bookmarks, maybe check it later.

      Facebook really is a dead man walking at this point. The lies about viewership and falsified watching stats show that there never was a market and they scammed us.

  21. Hector says:

    I suppose I must be just rotten then. I’ve never liked, subscribed, rung the bell (whatever that means) and I use my browser only with high-security options to prevent Google’s insane tracking regime as much as possible.

    Sorry Shamus. At least I’m giving you a view.

  22. King Marth says:

    I like the distinction between information and knowledge – I’ve also heard it go one step further, calling raw numbers “data” and attempting to reserve the term “information” for data which informs you about something.

    1. Moridin says:

      That’s actually established terminology in computer science(and probably other fields). Data is when you have a bunch of numbers or other data(for example, the unprocessed measurements from a weather station located somewhere). Information is when you process that data to get something meaningful(continuing with the example, you might take the average daily and nightly rainfall and temperatures over the course of ten years). Knowledge is step higher than that – you take a set of information and derive further meaning from it, turning it into something useful(october is a great time if you want to sell umbrellas). And finally there’s wisdom, which is more abstract and often not well defined(just because historical data says one thing doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look out the window and see the weather yourself before dressing up to go outside).

  23. Armstrong says:

    As a not-so-long-time fan (3-4 years?) I may be biased, but I think your video content is very good. It’s of decent technical quality — certainly no worse than the thousands of other video essayist out there — and the actual word content is just the good simple Shamus insights we’ve all come to know and expect. I’m frankly surprised your content isn’t breaking 10k views, because I’ve seen plenty of worse stuff reach 50k or more. Your videos are more of the level I’ve come to expect from moderately successful ~100k channels.

    If I had to venture I guess, I’d say the problem is threefold:

    1. The Algorithm.
    It’s tragic, but it’s true: YouTube hold the absolute power to make or break channels. And if there are two things the Algorithm hates, it’s (semi-)dormant channels and ad-free content. I don’t think anyone really has real hard evidence for it, but enough people have been saying this for so long that I’m inclined to believe it. The people at YouTube see video-makers as basically workers whose job it is to create content for the ad mill. People who don’t upload at a frantic pace are lazy slackers, and people who upload stuff that doesn’t even bring YouTube money are freeloaders, a worthless liability YT have every incentive to bury.

    2. Lack of shameless self-promotion.
    Another tragic fact of the modern internet, but with the rise of Algorithms it’s very hard to really break out. Regular people just don’t get exposed to unvetted, unproven or new content the way they were in the past, so simply uploading good stuff and hoping it’d be enough to be noticed is a very naive 2008 attitude.
    You’re absolutely right that Reddit is probably the last platform where it is possible for regular people to get some actual exposure. It’s the only big platform that isn’t being constantly curated by an opaque algorithmic process. What does and doesn’t rise to the Reddit front page is still very random, but it feels like the natural sort of human randomness, rather than a capricious algorithm playing god. So even if your first couple of ventures into Reddit haven’t been very successful yet, I suggest you keep trying. Don’t stick to the smaller fan-based communities, cast your net wide. Your content would be right up the alley of a place like /r/games.

    3. Subject matters.
    Throwing shade is always popular. A lot of people treat video essayists as an avenue for having their own personal dissatisfaction with things mirrored at them. Judging by the title alone, I suspect that the upcoming Bethesda video has a good chance of attracting a larger-than-usual viewership. The Fallout 76 fiasco is the gift that keeps on giving for the angry gamers of the internet.
    But that may not be enough. I’m talking out of my own algorithmically-curated ass here, but a thing I noticed with almost all the more recent “upstart” YT channels I’m subscribed to (and the ones the new recommendation algorithm keeps shoving in my face) to is that they all have a schtick. They all have some sort of thing that sets them apart, and for the most part it’s specialized knowledge. General “video game person opines about video games” channels seem to be on the way out (unless they are timely, news-focused channels with frequent uploads), and what YouTube loves now are people who can deliver something others don’t. In the nerdy corners of YouTube, this often means channels that educate their audience, directly or indirectly.
    With this in mind, the thing that would really do your channel good is, I think, your graphics programming knowledge. The Vulcan and Raytracing videos you made attracted the most views for a reason. I think you should lean into that advantage. Be like the 8-bit guy, but for OpenGL. That’s certainly some of the content I found most interesting on this blog, and being the “late 1990’s graphics guy” is a niche not many people are trying to fill. Embarking on another big programming project project and documenting the progress on YouTube may not the smartest way to go about it (you can’t expect new audiences to sit down and commit to a series of 8-10 videos on a subject they don’t know or care too much about it), but maybe some short videos explaining what BSP stands for? Or a “What Do Graphics Cards Actually DO?” video? Or go full-bandwagon and make a video trying to explain how Minecraft works under the hood?
    Either way, what I’m trying to say here is that simply sharing opinions seems like a dead end. Even if your opinions are very good and insightful, it’s hard to rise above the crowd. You gotta deliver more.

  24. Michael says:

    I know you prefer not to in general, but maybe you could consider occasionally covering popular topics to grow your audience. While I prefer your long-form analysis of old games/media, I still find myself curious about what Shamus would have to say about, e.g., the latest Star Wars movie. That is to say, this kind of content could increase your audience while not alienating your existing readers.

  25. Mephane says:

    Re: Facebook. It definitely is a bubble, because many people dislike the platform for various reasons, and avoid visiting it at all cost. I, for example, don’t even bother following any link to Facebook. If the thing is sufficiently interesting, it will surely be around somewhere else, too, and easy to find. If I can’t locate the original news article, video, whatever, within a minute on Google, it’s not going to be worth the effort anyway.

  26. Zach Hixson says:

    Something I learned when I used to do YouTube is that when promoting your stuff on Reddit or any other site, try to avoid “Here is a new video I made,” and try instead to make the title something like “Here is a video about X,” or “Here’s the deal with X.”

    This kind of goes along the same lines as what you pointed out in your post where people saying “Here is a video Shamus made,” usually works better. This way it doesn’t immediately jump out as self promotion, and people are a little more curious.

  27. Husr says:

    I think trying to tap into the more topical will help you a lot, Shamus. Note that I don’t mean going against your principles and becoming an events driven content creator, but more linking your subjects into trends a bit more. Most of the time, this wouldn’t even mean changing the videos much, you can do a lot with just titles and thumbnails. For example, Star Wars has always been your go-to example of well done drama-first storytelling to serve as a contrast to well-done details-first like Mass Effect 1. If you were doing a video on that dichotomy, you could make sure to put star wars in the title and then it would pop up in the recommendations for the (many) people already watching videos about the trendy topic. I don’t like facecam and appreciate that you don’t use it in your videos, but other people might be right saying that doing it would get you more views.

    I strongly encourage you to migrate to a new channel. I would bet you anything that most of your consistent 2k views come from this blog and would follow you, and it would help you a lot with the algorithm not to have dead subscribers. Speaking of that, building up a resovoir of content makes a big difference, so uploading your podcasts there would help too. Much of YouTube’s murky proccess factors in continuous time watching videos from a channel, which is why short videos have fallen so far to the wayside. Longer, 20-minute ish videos like your upcoming Bethesda piece will probably help on that, as will more of them for people to see in related videos and keep watching your channel, but that just comes with time. As another podcast creator (for Fire Emblem, so it’s gaming related too), guests that are other content creator who can promote the collaboration on their end can massively inflate your view/listen count, and is definitely an avenue worth exploring with your videos and possibly Diecast too. You already collaborate with MrBTongue, so maybe you could make a video with him too, as a starting point. Worth talking to him about, at least.

    I also think it’s worth uploading a day early. I’m subscribed to your channel and usually watch the video, but it’s often more convenient for me to read the article. I’m impatient though, so if it were up a day early people like me would probably switch to watching entirely, which could help your blog migration. (Migration feels like the wrong word, actually, since the site is so alive and well. Expansion?)

    Regardless, there’s a lot you can do without compromising your principles, and even more if you’re willing to bend them slightly to adapt to the YouTube audience. Hopefully you and Isaac can make some tweaks and really take off.

  28. evilmrhenry says:

    Some suggestions that might help to please The Algorithm, based on a quick Google search that shouldn’t create that much more work for you:
    1: Add subtitles. Your latest video (Domino worldbuilding) has autogenerated subtitles, which are much better than that phrase suggests, but can’t be used for search terms. You’re already working from a script, so this should be easier than usual to add.
    2: Add hashtags. Again, looking at your latest video, there’s no hashtags.
    3: Upload the Diecast to Youtube. Your frequency of uploads is really low, and getting an extra hour of content every week on Youtube might help with that.

    Also consider splitting the Diecast. I find the current length a bit long anyway, and you could get an extra video by uploading the general portion and the listener mail portion on different days.

  29. Ninety-Three says:

    This topic reminded me of something I found praiseworthy. You do relatively little coverage of “topical” stuff, and an idea I’ve heard you express a couple times goes something like “There’s already ten thousand people weighing in on [hot news story], I don’t have anything to add to that conversation that hasn’t already been said.” God only knows if it’s a wise business strategy, but I really appreciate the respect for people’s time that you display in sticking to your strengths/preferences and growing the breadth of discourse, rather than trying to split the pie of Star Wars Hot Takes ten thousand and one ways.

    1. danielfogli says:

      Maybe there’s some win-win to be had in this situation, instead of just dogpiling on Star Wars, doing a Shamus style “dogpiling”, a personal twist to the hot topics, and playing to his strengths. I for one like especially the story/plot cohesion and worldbuilding stuff. And the deadpan humor.

      Or I dunno, if you’re gonna rant, rant the hell out of it, if there’s something youtube likes, it’s the controversial topics. :-)

  30. CountAccountant says:

    Shamus, have you considered expanding your target audience beyond video games with this blog? I ask because video game discussion is a hyper-competitive market – almost every adolescent male has the desire and means to compete in this space. You have to work twice as hard for a fraction of the results.

    Meanwhile, you have a number of other talents and stories to tell that really resonate with people. Off the top of my head:

    1. You have a gift for explaining programming concepts to non-programmers in a way that’s accessible and fun.
    2. You’ve been through the process of launching your own game on Steam. Aspiring game developers would surely benefit from your perspective.
    3. Your DM of the Rings comic originally catapulted you into the public spotlight.
    4. You likely overcame some form of autism or similar condition to become a skilled and effective communicator. I recognize a lot of symptoms in your autobiography that resemble symptoms my son has. Your ability to overcome your challenges gives me hope that he will be okay as well. I’m sure other parents of autistic children would feel a similar connection.

    Any of these could be expanded into a second audience, but they are just examples. My point is, you are fighting for eyeballs in an impossibly crowded space. You can either fight harder in the space you are in, or you can capitalize on a second space that your life experiences have uniquely prepared you for.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Good point about specialization.
      Procedural generation comes to mind as well.

  31. Nobody Important says:

    I wouldn’t mind longer form, analytical content of a type like the Mass Effect retrospective in serial, video form. That’s the stuff that keeps bringing me back to the site more than other things, and I have lots of friends that I could convince to watch video game analysis more than I can to read the blog. There’s probably a way to mesh using verbal asides and on screen text to approximate the footnotes in your articles.

    Sure, there’s of detailed video game analysis nowadays, but there’s a Shamus tone and brand that isn’t replicated elsewhere.

  32. Plays The Thing says:

    Hey Shamus, this is a huge wall of text and I’m not an expert by any means but I hope some of this is helpful because you’ve been a huge inspiration to me.

    I have recently begun my own foray into the youtube video essay jungle and so I have some highly inexpert advice to offer.

    First of all, I’m kind of shocked that you have so much analysis about wordcount and views, but didn’t mention anything about impressions and their click-through-rate, traffic sources, or any of the other metrics that youtube analytics gives you. In terms of figuring out why videos are being successful or not this seems like massively more important than simple viewcount.

    For my part I have only released two videos. The first one was about league of legends and was quite frankly pretty bad for a whole bunch of reasons. It was posted to the League subreddit, and /r/games, but it didn’t get a single upvote because it was, like I said, bad. It still got a few thousand views, the vast majority of which came from those reddit posts, because it had a fairly inflammatory title and people love to tell you why you’re wrong.

    My second video was much, much better. Better editing, better writing, better everything really. It also did much better, hitting 20k views in the first day. Once again, this was almost entirely from reddit. It was posted in a few places, but it got about 500 upvotes in the /r/videos subreddit which was what led to almost all of the views. About 90% of my traffic was external, but only about 65% was from reddit in the end because after it hit the front page of /r/videos it was posted in other places.

    Which is why I’m curious about your metrics. How much of your views are coming from this site? How much are from reddit? How are those posts on reddit doing? How many impressions is youtube giving you (which just means how many times have they recommended it to someone)? What’s the clickthrough rate? On my second video I got about ten thousand impressions, but a click-through rate of 4.5%, and a watchtime from those impressions of only about 50 hours. All of this is important information about how to effectively market your videos because, as you said, I don’t think the youtube algorithm, or really the platform as a whole, is really on our side here.

    Which brings me to my first piece of advice: post your videos to bigger subreddits. Even if they don’t do well, more people will see them. There just aren’t many people browsing the new queue of /r/masseffect or /r/hitman these days, but you will probably get a bunch of views posting in /r/games, /r/gaming, or places like this even if people don’t particularly like it or they don’t get a bunch of upvotes. Even though there was nothing about /r/videos that my video was marketed to in particular, it was still my best source of traffic, and led to more traffic as people took it from there and posted it other places.

    Why did it do well on reddit? That’s a much more difficult question to answer. To some extent it was timely, there was a bunch of interest in the Mandalorian around this time and the Rise of Skywalker hadn’t come out and cannibalized that conversation yet. But it is my hope that it generated interest because it was pretty good. I was proud of it, at least, and I think it is some of my best writing, and definitely my best video editing ever. Though again, I’m just Some Guy with two videos and a youtube channel.

    However I have been thinking about doing this for quite some time and I’ve written thousands of words of video scripts which mostly just haven’t panned out because they haven’t been engaging. The last video was the first time I’ve ever felt like I made something which was actually engaging and something that I would want to watch. Which brings me to the second piece of advice:

    I don’t think you have quite enough editing. It’s not exactly bad, but it’s not exactly good. There’s a lot of just you talking over footage, and the footage just rolls and rolls and rolls while you talk and talk and talk and I find myself usually just reading the write-ups and not feeling like I was missing anything. Even with the hitman video I didn’t really find myself missing much because you are very good at describing the important details of a scene without the video in order to make your point. The first time I really felt like I missed something was the FFX joke in the economy video, I hadn’t seen it until you pointed out that it didn’t work in the write-up. That’s a really good thing. In my opinion, your videos should be full of those moments that don’t translate well because those moments justify your use of the video medium. At the moment most of your videos are a bit like quick time events. “Why is this a QTE instead of just a cutscene” = “Why is this a video instead of just a blogpost”. I would guess that you’re kind of frustrating people who want to get through your content faster without offering them any incentive to watch the video instead of read the post, and it kind of feels like you’re making videos because that’s what you think is popular, like a game designer who jams the QTE into the cutscene for similar reasons.

    (Again, metrics can help here. Are most of your clicks from the website? If so, how long are people watching the video for? Are they clicking out after a minute? How much watchtime are you getting from the youtube recommendations?)

    Now this doesn’t mean that your video needs to be full of editing gags to justify your use of the medium, those are definitely helpful, but not the most important thing. The most important piece of advice I would give to your editing is to cut more often, cut rhythmically, and use more relevant footage. Every time you start a new thought you should have a new piece of footage that directly connects to that thought. A piece of footage that strengthens your argument by providing an example that you don’t need to say out loud because the editing is giving the example for you.

    Here’s an example of what I mean from your economy video: you go one minute and ten seconds from the beginning before you cut a single time. This is not a good use of the medium. Go back and look at the blogpost and imagine that whole section where you talked without cutting was one paragraph. That’s what it feels like to watch that part of the video. It’s just not visually engaging, and at that point I would immediately rather be reading the post, which I did, instead of watching the rest. A good rule of thumb is to cut every time you have a new paragraph in your script and to be constantly cutting to relevant examples. When you say “you’re halfway through a game and you have enough money to start your own country” there should be footage on screen that supports that idea. If you are talking about trivializing the economy by just collecting and selling loot you should have footage on screen that has you collecting loot and then cut to you selling it as you say “selling loot.” Just like a good game uses the mechanics to help tell the story, or a good movie uses the camera to help tell the story, you should be using the footage to help make your point. If you’re not, it may as well be a blogpost, and that’s what a lot of these newer videos feel like a lot of the time. Even if I go back and look at an older video, I see that you are making much better use of the visual portion. By the one minute mark in The Biggest Game Ever, you have cut several times and have used many visual aids.

    That being said, your analysis is still really good, and there are plenty of highly popular youtubers who get away without good editing because they’ve either been around a long time or their analysis is good and their viewers are used to it. However, I think if you are trying to break into the market at this point you have to have highly engaging content. My personal inspirations for this kind of stuff are channels like Every Frame a Painting (who basically pioneered this style of editing for youtube analysis) and Rhystic Studies (but I could only ever be as good as him in my most fantastical dreams). I love Bob Case’s videos too, and they do a great job of having supportive visual aids without being fancy.

    Again I’m just an amateur, but I think I’m doing this for similar reasons: I’m mostly trying to cultivate a skill of video editing which I think could be valuable, I find it fairly fun, and I wonder if people might like them. But I’ve only ever released two videos, and though I’m going to try and make one a month now I don’t even know if that’s going to happen. My particular style might generate too much extra work for you. However, I do think that posting to bigger subreddits could help, and if you are trying to make a more engaging video I really think the visuals do need to be more engaging.

    Best of luck, and you really have been a huge influence on and inspiration to me. Oh, and you also made me fall in love with your footnotes, so my solution was just to jam them into the video as text on the screen.

    1. Syal says:

      Lots of usable advice throughout the comments, but I think Plays The Thing has the meat of it, the editing is lacking*. Mostly, the gameplay footage is distracting from the point. The Vulkan video has a solid house metaphor that’s weakened because every piece of it is separated by unrelated gameplay footage. The Mass Effect/Domino Worldbuilding** footage uses full gameplay video clips to represent unseen backstory but freezeframes for characters in game, which is backward. And more than one video starts with a comment about your work on the blog, with no accompanying picture of the blog; if you want to drive traffic here, that’s the place to do it.

      I think you’ve got an expressively rhythmic vocal going, so tightening the editing should improve quality by a good bit.

      One other thing I’d say is: if there’s a particular Youtuber you’d like to be, watch their stuff for comparison, try to see what they’re doing that you aren’t.

      *(I’ve only watched the videos just now to try to critique them, and most of the Youtubers I watch are LPers with your same viewcounts.)

      **(Also the Mass Effect one suffers from it mostly being you reading someone else’s plot. There’s a short time period where that sounds informative and it’s too short to cover that topic. That one works way better as text. Also the Fifth Element and Matt/Trey footage lasted too long for making the point. All three had the feeling of fanboyism more than demonstration.)

      1. ccesarano says:

        The funny thing about the comments regarding the editing is that it falls in line with what I said about the old “garage” days of YouTube not even ten years ago. Noah Caldwell-Gervais was able to get away with such editing — and to an extent still does — and still get a huge amount of hits. He’d discuss a specific scene in the game and the relevant footage wouldn’t appear until he was already discussing his next topic.

        I think there’s a difficult balance to be had in tighter editing and regular content, though. I myself do some [i]very[/i] tight editing, and as a result roughly one minute of video footage equates to an hour of work. Not always, as it sometimes depends on how much footage I need to scrub, or how close together relevant clips are, or whether the situation calls for longer or shorter clips, but it’s a decent average to go by. Knowing how much time it takes to edit like that, I don’t blame Shamus and Issac for their approach given that they’re trying to put this stuff together on a weekly basis.

        Perhaps Shamus could try a “seasons” approach, which I’ve known other YouTubers to try in the past. That way they can build a whole grouping of content and when, perhaps, halfway done, they can start releasing the content weekly. The problem is that this takes away the ability to have timely releases on current topics.

        I think the biggest struggle with this whole thing is something I’ve had to come to terms with: at what point does it become work and stop being fun. Note that I very much understand that creation is always going to be work, but there’s a degree of self-satisfaction that goes along with it. People try to give advice like “find a hook” and other such things, but if you’re chasing followers and the algorithm at some point you’re going to find yourself staring at the blinking cursor of a word doc thinking “I don’t like this…” It’s easier for me, though, because unlike Shamus, content creation isn’t my job, it’s my hobby, and that puts him in a difficult position.

        Thinking on it, though, I wonder if working with The Escapist on video content might actually benefit him, both in exposure and in resources. He’s certainly got the connections, though the question is whether The Escapist has room for or is willing to take on more video content. In truth, I’m not really familiar much with them anymore, and the only thing that kept me going was Shamus’ column there.

        As for Reddit: the funny thing is, just about everywhere people recommend to post has rules about self-promotion or looks down on it. I feel like even that is a gamble. I think the one video you referenced was a perfect example of the system working in a formulaic manner: have video with topic relevant to current pop culture focus, get hits. But the question is, will those hits be long-term? Will they result in a long-lasting and loyal following? I have videos with over 2K views, and yet I still sit at 484 subscribers.

        I also recognize that, on my part, I completely refuse to play YouTube’s click-bait game. My titles are old-fashioned. The name of my channel, then the name of the game I’m analyzing. No thesis in there. No “Zelda’s Dark World EXPLAINED” bullcrap. I hate that stuff, and while I know it’s necessary for XYZ reasons, it’s making everyone look like BuzzFeed. It’s trendy, it’s trashy, and it’s actually kept me from clicking links to Bellular News or Laymen Gaming even though I’m subscribed to both. But for Shamus? I think perhaps he could have some text on his thumbnail, but he’d need a logo or something that’s got better clarification.

        Would it really help, though?

        Food for thought I suppose.

        1. Syal says:

          One thing to try would be to get a bunch of still shots that can be used in several different contexts, and use the same one for every context. When he mentioned “on a quest to find a sword”, I’m picturing Link holding up the Master Sword, and then that same picture of Link holding up the Master Sword can be used to talk about “a boy” or “the joy of discovery” or “medieval times” or “epic quests” or “greenhorns” (cause he’s wearing green geddit). So then you’d have a good visual to go along with the words, and the repeated imagery could also work as a catchphrase. Once you have a good body of stock shots, the work should fall off over time.

        2. Facebook will die says:

          Noah has bad editing, it’s true, but people don’t come there for that. They come there because he has built up a large viewerbase that comes back, by having a unique personality and voice. I tend to understand why his gargantuan series retrospectives are editted that way too-they are monstrous, and the video stuff is actually relevant quite often to the dialogue, it’s mostly dialogue that’s poor.

          I think he’s an outlier, and shouldn’t be understood to be a way to be popular, unless you too are willing to devote years to building an audience on the platform, while it buries your videos.

          I think you can find a way to upload more regularly, be more topical, and make your stuff more clickable, without destroying your integrity. Shamus should definitely be uploading the podcasts-there is no good reason not to. Splitting them into Mailbag vs Podcast Main gives more uploads and frequency too, and makes them more digestible. You can use topical conversations to branch off into what you want to talk about if you do it right, and either irony or subtlety will help with not going overboard on clickbait.

  33. Hmm. This is kinda weird for me because although I mostly prefer reading to watching videos (and I detest podcasts–the only time I ever listen to the Diecast is when there is a specific topic/question I’m actually interested in or you answer one of my questions), I actually watch all of these “This dumb industry” videos instead of reading the transcript.

    I’m not sure why, which is less than helpful, but maybe it’s just the topics that make me want to have some pretty pictures to watch while I’m listening to the opinions. I’m just really uninterested in reading the transcripts for these videos, even though half the time when I watch the video I just leave it on and go do something else at the same time.

    I don’t think quality is your problem–a lot of the Youtube videos that I come across have absolutely garbage quality. One thing I have noticed is that it’s not immediately obvious that your newer videos are meant to be part of a series because “This Dumb Industry” isn’t included in the TITLE of the video. I may be wrong about this, you only have to look at MY Youtube channel to figure out that I know next to nothing about producing videos, but I think consistent titling may help you out. I almost always go looking for videos with a few key words. The few semi-popular videos I’ve produced have titles that are meant to make them appear in searches for things like “how do I do this damn quest” or similar.

  34. TLN says:

    I would guess that it’s largely the youtube algorithm’s fault, or well well, that + the fact that there are so many people making video essays about games these days (both long and short).

    For shorter stuff I generally prefer text form so I rarely if ever watch your videos and instead just read the articles (since it’s basically the same content). I do however follow a lot of other youtube channels about games, and despite constantly being recommended more stuff like that, in my years of reading your articles I’ve never ever seen your vids pop up as recommended or whatever on youtube. My guess is that there are so many people putting up videos about games these days that a 12 year old channel getting a few thousand views doesn’t even make a blip, so there’s not a lot of reach beyond what subscribers you already have, and even if the link gets posted elsewhere I’m not sure how many people would actually click it (source: if I see someone posting a sub-10k views vids about games from a guy I never heard of I almost certainly wouldn’t even bother to click it).

    As for how to fix this, well who knows? The youtube algorithm might favor new accounts getting consistent views like you suggest, in which case announcing a new channel and posting on there in the future might help. You’d probably lose subscribers (at least initially), but it seems that only like 20-25% of those guys are still active and watch the vids anyway so that’s maybe not a huge loss (actually it would probably look better for anyone new checking the channel out, since a channel with 4 times as many subs as average views doesn’t look great).

    Beyond that… well I think you’re on to something re: video length. If you look at a lot of the “big” channels talking about video games, it’s either short videos leaning more towards being funny, or longer (like, 40 minutes to an hour or more) and more informational. Just speaking for myself here but I think that ~10 minutes is not a great length for talking about an interesting subject, it usually just leaves me feeling like there is more that could have been said and it’s why all my favorite stuff from you is the long-form multi part series.

  35. Lino says:

    I forgot to mention it in my comment yesterday, but I think the “e-begging” actually works – your Hitman video has a lot more views than average. So it may have worked to boost your views.

  36. Christopher says:

    I think some of this is just an effect of time. It’s been so long since your older videos that, for all intents and purposes, this isn’t much different from starting a new channel from scratch. Even if it was the best videos on youtube, it’d probably take more than a couple months to get those big views to hook in a new audience. It seems pretty happenstance which videos will catch on to something the public is interested in at the moment. One recent channel I got recommended by Youtube has largely 1k-ish views. And then the occasional video will have over a hundred thousand. Some of this is on the topic covered, a video on som bad, obscure, Europe and Japan-only PS2 game or an itch.io thing isn’t something that will garner anywhere near the views of a Sonic or God of War video. But it mostly just seems like a random diceroll.

    The best advice I feel like I can give, given that situation, is just to keep making these videos for a while longer. The voiceover, scripts, editing etc will just improve naturally by practice, like all things, and sooner or later one will pick up steam.

    I guess on a personal note, I’d love to have a video version of some of the Mass Effect coverage in there. I think that retrospective is really worthwhile in covering how the games’ tone and themes changed over time, in a way that mostly went uncovered because most people just broke down at the ending. Maybe the big enthusiasm isn’t there for the franchise anymore like it used to be, but I think some version of that thesis condensed for one video would fit right in with my favorite youtube video game analysis videos. And it’s easier to get people to click HOW MASS EFFECT CHANGED or whatever than it is to get them to read a book-length series of blog posts.

  37. Daimbert says:

    I can’t really give advice on how to grow the video audience, as I don’t usually watch videos (SF Debris is pretty much the only exception) and as evidenced by my own blog have no idea how to actually grow an audience. So I’ll just repeat the advice I gave last time: if you and Isaac enjoy doing it and enjoy doing it together, then unless the time spent is really getting in the way of doing things you really need to do then go ahead and keep doing it. Maybe something will go viral. Maybe it won’t. But the reward of doing something you enjoy and something you enjoy with your son will probably be sufficient on its own, especially if you stop worrying about making it a success. And if it taking up so much time is really a concern, then maybe after the next couple of months instead of killing it throttle it back to once a month instead, which allows you to stay in the video game while still maintaining the text posts that you like and more of your audience consumes,

  38. Dreadjaws says:

    One example is in my column on in-game economies. In the video version, I cut away to some Final Fantasy X for a humorous conversation that lampshades the economic problem I’m talking about. There was no way to capture that joke in the text version except to explain it, so it got left out.

    You could have screenshotted the video and put it in the blog in comic form.

    In any case, while I don’t really know much about the subject to tell you how to grow your audience, I certainly think it’s far too early for it to happen naturally. Yeah, you’ve had a channel for a decade and a half, but you only have about 10 videos up since you started this new series. It’s only in the last 5 months that you started a regular series. Before that, your channel got videos very sporadically, so they were very unlikely to get subscribers (and the ones you had were unlikely to even notice when you uploaded something new).

    From my experience watching other channels grow, you’re gonna need a few more months of steady content producing in order to start seeing a positive fanbase growth. Unless of course one of your videos happens to go viral, which is uncontrollable and unpredictable.

  39. Alberek says:

    While doing this graphs is fun and everything, those that work with external factors like the one “Youtube views” should be weighted by external data… like I don’t know, the traffic of Youtube during the days it was watched or something like that.

    I watch your videos on Youtube… though I don’t understand the difference in wathching it in Youtube or here, I don’t know how things work.

  40. Thomas says:

    Some good news: YouTube recommended me one of your videos that I had for the first time this week.

    I’d already read the text, but watched it anyway to reward the algorithm for showing it to me

  41. Leeward says:

    For what it’s worth, sometimes people stay. I found this site when DMotR was not done yet, and just never took it out of my RSS feed. Of course, I still use an RSS reader, so maybe my habits are too deeply ingrained.

    On the subject of this post, “A Bunch of Stupid Charts,” I feel there could have been more charts. Video minutes per view? Words per page hit? This series on the blog vs. others? Comments per blog post/YouTube video? I was expecting a bunch, and I’m underwhelmed by the number of numbers.

  42. CloverMan-88 says:

    Personally, I preffer reading the blog to video esseys. Not because of their quality, but because I follow many video creators, and very few blogs. So I don’t want to “use up” written content I could use later, in situations when I need to kill some time and can’t listen to a video.

    So the only time I watch the video version of the column is when I’ve already read the blog, and I’m in a mood for some video and don’t mind repetition. Which happens to about 50% of your videos.

  43. pseudonym says:

    Also, the above chart contains a spoiler for next week: The next article is about how Bethesda misunderstood the nuances of Fallout.

    This is not a spoiler. This is a teaser! I am really looking forward to tuesday now.

    That got me thinking: the revolutions podcast always announces the subject of next week. This way you can anticipate the new episode. This means it will be on your mind, and you are more likely to check it out. I think this could work for your videos too. I wonder how a teaser for the next video at the end would work out.

    I also agree with many of the people here that starting a new channel is a good move. Also putting the diecast on youtube will be good. I discovered jupiter broadcasting through youtube, and now I am a regular listener of some of their shows: linux action news and linux unplugged. But I listen to them now through their own channels. Not via youtube. Putting the diecast on youtube will give you free discoverability + it will ensure a weekly trickle of content that will ensure the channel is active.

  44. Are you doing okay, Shamus? Your habitual self-deprecation and efforts to head off criticism before it gets started have seemed a bit over the top lately.

    1. Shamus says:

      Fine, thanks. Just a mild freak out over real-world problems. I didn’t realize it was leaking into my work.

      1. I dunno about leaking, you’ve just seemed more bitter and harder-edged lately, maybe.

      2. Lino says:

        Real life sucks – the graphics may be great, but the gameplay is atrocious, and the story sucks. Also, did anyone actually test this? I mean, there are players who get debuffs from stuff like air and miniature residue of kitten fur! What were the devs thinking?!?!

        On a more serious note, stay strong, and I hope things turn out OK :)

        1. No kidding! The balance is TERRIBLE.

  45. djw says:

    I don’t have any solutions to your Youtube problem, since I am not a fan of Youtube.

    However, if that falls through might I suggest more Stolen Pixels? Or something along the line of DMotR?

    Other people have done and/or are doing stuff like that, but to be completely honest, you do it better, so you will have a competitive advantage that you may not have with video.

    Its also the sort of thing that is susceptible to meme-ing, and if that happens you get your advertising for free.

  46. Kestrellius says:

    This very much isn’t my field, so I can’t guarantee my advice won’t be dumb, but I’ve got a couple of ideas about potential means of expanding your audience. The tl;dr is: seek out other creators whose audiences are similar to your own, and reach out to them.

    For example, in the last Diecast, there was a discussion of the GDELB parody videos. Well, the guy who made those — Mauler — also hosts a weekly stream/podcast called Every Frame A Pause, where he, his co-hosts, and a fairly diverse pool of guests sort of review video essays, argue about storytelling, and generally dick around. (You actually linked to EFAP once in your article on Shut Up About Plot Holes, but I don’t know if that means you’re aware of them or if that was just a random Google search.) These streams tend to get fifty to a hundred thousand views, and regularly stretch out to eight or twelve hours. Mauler’s brand has a lot to do with very in-depth, nitpicky breakdowns of plot and worldbuilding logic.

    In other words, the EFAP audience is a group of tens of thousands of people who like hearing about why dumb plots are dumb and have a high tolerance for extremely long-form content.

    Here’s another thing. One of EFAP’s semi-regular guests is a fellow named Smudboy. Now, back in the day, he made a lot of content about the decline and fall of Mass Effect. I also remember him popping up a few times in the comments of the Spoiler Warning videos on that series. So, he’s familiar with you, and he’s watched and probably enjoyed some of your content. If you reached out to him, I think he could probably get you invited onto the stream sometime. That could prove very very effective.

    …On the other hand, EFAP — while not political per se — is sort of politics-adjacent, and the single most common topic on the streams is arguing about The Last Jedi. So while I think it’d be a pretty good way to expand your audience, I wouldn’t exactly blame you if you wanted to stay away.

    Another option is Scott Alexander’s blog Slate Star Codex. It’s…well. So, essentially, I know of two places on the Internet where a person can have a reliably civil and intelligent discussion with a variety of interesting people. This is one of them. SSC is the other. That’s a pretty significant similarity, I think.

    While SSC’s posts rarely have all that much to do with gaming or the other topics discussed here, those are things the blog’s community often discusses in open threads, so I’m pretty confident there are a number of people there who would be interested in Twenty Sided. I can also be confident in that because I know for a fact that at least four or five people post in the comments in both places, so I’m sort of cheating here. Granted, this brings up a caveat: if there’s that sort of existing overlap, it’s possible that everybody on SSC who would enjoy this blog are already reading it. I really doubt it, though. SSC is very widely read for a blog, and I don’t see any reason why everybody there would already have heard of you.

    Anyway, Scott hosts ads (non-obnoxious ones, no less!) on the blog’s sidebar. These are, from what I understand, relatively inexpensive by ad standards, and they’re apparently pretty effective, too. It might be worth having an ad for Twenty Sided on there for a month or two, and seeing what happens.

    I hope this was, if not useful, at least mildly interesting to read.

  47. Asdasd says:

    Just an idle idea that occurred to me on the subject of reusing assets: why not serialise The Other Kind of Life, either on this site in text or as an audiobook for the youtube channel? Either way you get a large, steady supply of mostly/somewhat complete content that could bring in new kinds of readers and give you something to promote on the big subreddits*.

    You get to eke some more value out of the book, too. It might even sell a few copies when you consider that some readers might get impatient waiting for the next chapter or want to gift it to friends.

    * for example, r/scifi, r/cyberpunk and r/futurology are all orders of magnitude bigger than r/masseffect or r/hitman.

    1. Lino says:

      Better yet, he could do that with Free Radical, Witch Watch or his autobiography – they are either free, or in their end-of-life, sales-wise.

      One channel I recently started following is a guy called Larry Lawton – once the US’s biggest jewel thief, he’s written a book about his life of crime, his 12 years in prison, and how he got his life back on track. Apart from a couple of viral videos (in which he reviews heists in movies, hosted on other channels), his most watched series is basically him retelling what’s written in his book. At first glance, this seems self-defeating – why would you give your book away “for free”? But watching his numbers, his following is increasing quite healthily.

      I think Shamus could do that with a lot of the content he’s written – it could just be him talking in front of a camera. He could reserve the tightly edited stuff for series like This Dumb Industry.

  48. Misamoto says:

    Not sure if anyone has mentioned it yet, but you can put links in YouTube videos in a useful and noticeable manner. There are those pop-up like things, I believe they’re called “annotations”?

    1. ccesarano says:

      YouTube got rid of a whole bunch of that stuff some time ago. The only thing left are “Cards”, which pop up in the upper right-hand corner and you’re limited to about five per video I believe, and the End Screen content. Note that YouTube is very finicky about external links on those cards last I looked at it, though that might have changed.

      What’s more is the current YouTube studio is kind of awful about finding where those are. If you know what to place during your video upload, then you’re good. If you have to go in and add it later, then I tend to swap back to the Classic Studio because at least there I know where to make the modification.

  49. You know how to make navel-gazing and introspection palatable to nerds? Data!

  50. Terradyne says:

    They’re some nice charts, but it’s starting to look like you might have to switch over to a log scale for views on the newest video.

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