Yogscast Reveals New Program In Which They Earn Revenue From Indie Game Sales
Somehow, the gaming press has only now clued into the fact that some YouTubers are being paid by developers and publishers to cover some games. This isn’t exactly news given that most YouTube personalities that have some respect for themselves and their viewers disclose which videos are paid promotional content.
What we should all be focusing on is the implications of the new revenue scheme dreamt up by the team at Yogscast. Their new YogDiscovery program will see the company have indie developers pay a portion of the sales increase from Yogscast coverage of their game.
In the words of Yogscast CEO Mark “Turpster” Turpin, here’s how YogDiscovery works:
Much like an affiliate link, our creators receive a small share of the revenue generated by the measurable increase in sales generated by their coverage. This will often run for a brief period of time after the video has gone live.
So for example if a game had an extra 10,000 sales in the week after their video, they would see a small percentage of those extra sales.
Traditionally, paid promotional content on YouTube has worked in one of two ways. Most commonly, a content creator is paid a lump sum to produce a video about a game. When sales are factored into paying YouTubers, a referral link is included in the description of the video. YouTubers get a share of sales that they refer. Recently, EA has started popularizing a payment scheme that sees YouTubers earn a set amount per 1,000 views.
There are two problems with the current YogDiscovery plan. The first is that there is no direct tie between an increase in sales and Yogscast’s coverage unless they make they have the only video available on YouTube for a given game. If more than one video is online, any change in sales week-on-week could be a result of more than just the Yogscast video. Since the plan doesn’t take that into account, everyone from PewDiePie and TotalBiscuit to xxNoobBlazer420xx and some other account I make up could be generating more sales of that game and Yogscast would be rewarded for having the good luck to make a video at the right time.
The other problem that I have with the scheme as it stands is that it encourages a disingenuous video. Getting paid up front for a video or getting paid per view doesn’t necessarily encourage a content creator to make a game look better than it actually is. There’s no incentive for them to do so.
Under the YogDiscovery scheme, there’s a very real risk that the video could be put together in a way to make the game look good. After all, they’re very much incentivized to get gamers to buy games that are part of the YogDiscovery program. While Turpin insisted that they “only play games that [they] enjoy” and “can’t feign enthusiasm around a product,” can they really guarantee that? If someone told me that I was going to make a not insignificant sum of money if I just faked being excited, I’m sure I could pull it off. Insert a joke about my exes here.
And I can’t find sympathy for them over the repeated point about mitigating financial risk from creating videos without guaranteed views. First, they’re a sizeable corporation dedicated to making YouTube videos about games. I think that they have the business of YouTube figured out. Second, if their video doesn’t cause an increase in sales, nothing is mitigated… unless their plan is to cash in on any change in sale, whether it was their doing or not.
While I’m sure that the indie devs signing up or considering signing up for YogDiscovery consider this a good deal since the effective commission that they’re paying only has upside without any upfront costs, I still can’t help but feel this is the start of the slippery slope. There’s paying for coverage, there’s paying for favourable coverage and there’s paying for a salesman. I worry that this is the latter.