How will a YouTube for Games work?

A while back there was a flurry of new “Youtube for games” announcements. These are basically all shockwave.com with no editorial filter and some social network features. I wish them all well, but I doubt that most of them will amount to much. The problem with a YouTube for games is that it’s far more difficult to make a game than a movie. The kind of game you find on these sites takes

Let’s see how they’re doing so far:

  • Pijo.com: down for “rebranding”. They launched on November 6th.
  • GameGum.com: Of the 10 “favorite” games on the front page, only one has any comments.
  • GreatGamesExperiment: They have lots of content, but don’t seem to actually host any of it. They are more like a standard gaming site than a YouTube for games.
  • Kongregate.com: This one has tons of content, and they’re all flash games, so it’s hard to tell exactly where they’re hosted. It seems pretty active from the play counts on the games. And it gives you live chat with everyone who is playing the same game you are. This one is doing pretty well!

There are three big differences between “YouTube for Games” and YouTube. I think these will keep such a portal from becoming a massively popular site that Google buys for eleventy billion dollars:

  1. Old games weren’t written in Flash and can’t be uploaded to such a site. YouTube is filled with clips of William Shatner singing… everything. Such nostalgic content isn’t going to show up on Kongregate. You won’t be able to go there and play M.U.L.E. or Mail Order Monsters.
  2. There is no game equivalent of shooting video of yourself on a web-cam playing guitar or whining about your day (only click on that second one if you enjoy whiny teenage boys.) Making games is a lot of work, and even the minimum bar for a game to upload is probably 40-60 hours of work after you know how to do it. Learning how to do make a game in flash is several months worth of all your spare time.
  3. Most of the videos on YouTube are less than five minutes long.  Any halfway decent flash game will hold your attention for longer than that.  If I end up playing as many half hour flash games as I watch 5 minute YouTube videos, my productivity is really going to suffer.

There is one site that is trying something a little different. Sploder lets visitors build levels for a simple shooter on the site and then embed them anywhere. The game itself is pretty limited, but it points in an interesting direction. If you can build a game engine with tools that reduce game creation to clicking and dragging, many more people will be able to do it. A version of Sploder with uploadable sprites, custom sounds, and designer control over unit parameters (for things like physics, damage, and health) wouldn’t be that hard to write with a small team, and would let users make a wide variety of simple shooters.

Similar engines could be written for a lot of styles of puzzle games, RTS games, and RPGs. The resulting games would obviously be limited (in the same way that web-cam videos are limited) but there’s still plenty of creative room in such a no-coding-required engine. They would form a nice stepping-stone toward full-blown game development too.

What do you think? In a few years am I going to get 3-5 emails a day with a link to some game that somebody made and posted up on GameTube?

~Joe


2 Responses to “How will a YouTube for Games work?”

  1. Steve Chiavelli thought on :

    I think a site that mixes this “Make Your Own Game” engine (for multiple genres) could really take off if it also allows for original work to be uploaded as well.

    Allowing both novices and more experienced users to all be sharing games in the same space might create the type of environment that could really take off.

  2. Armis thought on :

    Good article thanks.

    … fast forward to 2013, GameGum.com is gone, and Kongregate.com is the industry leader (kinda helps having Game Stop as a parent company).

    Nevertheless, such sites are a good help to get your games played by a very large audience.

    Armis is a high strategy board game with a steep learning curve, it would normally take years to reach tens of thousands of people interest in such brain games, but with the help of the above sites we were able to reach those numbers almost instantly.

    I would really like to see more multi-player brain games online, allowing players around the world to compete on a regular basis.

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