Many of today’s action-packed video games offer an immersive cinematic experience that is often so fun to watch that it makes for great video entertainment on the web. Other game titles that may be more strategy-based become popular content because they reveal insights into becoming a better gamer. Whether it’s a product review, walkthrough, or a commentary-filled video of your gameplay, there is an explosively growing world of Internet video enthusiasts out there who are ravenous consumers of this type of content.
If that doesn’t get your gamer heart excited, then maybe this will.
You can monetize your gameplay videos on the Web!
Of course, the very first step is making a video recording your gameplay. In the days of yore this would require wiring the video and audio outputs of your gaming console to the inputs of a VCR. But this is the 21st century. That recording device you will be using will of course be your computer.
If your computer has a video card or dongle that has video inputs you’re all set. If not, you will need to beg, borrow or invest in the hardware required to allow you to capture video from an external source. Once you have your inputs set up properly you should be seeing live video from your game or console. Open that up to full screen because now it’s time to capture video.
If you’ve ever seen or made a screencast from your computer you probably understand what you’re about to do. Instead of capturing you doing some computer-stuff on your computer, your desktop will be filled with the playback window from your game.
Of course if your game is computer-based, your gameplay window will already be visible on your desktop.
In order to capture your game’s video window you will need computer software capable of recording screen capture videos. If you’re on a PC, two very popular programs used by gameplay video makers are Bandicam and Fraps. Some programs do allow you to try before you buy, but don’t be surprised if those demo copy recordings come with a watermark on the screen. Do yourself a favor and pay for a full copy before you post your videos. The watermark will not make for the best first impression with your potential viewers.
Good news for you Mac users out there. If you’re running the latest version of OSX you will notice that the built-in QuickTime program already has screen recording capabilities!
Now, allow me to put the cart before the horse for a moment. If your goal is to post these videos online somewhere where people will see them, and possibly to monetize them, there is a consideration you need to make. Because the characters, designs, sounds, music, artwork and animation in video games is copyrighted by the companies and individuals that created and publish them, popular video sites like YouTube and Vimeo have specific rules governing what they will allow you to post. Since this generally extends beyond the boundaries of what is known as “fair use,” your safest bet to help mitigate the risk of having your videos taken down without your control is to create what can be somewhat categorized as “new use.”
Gaming videos that have commentary over them tend to fall into that grey-ish area that video game publishers tend to allow online. I don’t mean the in-game chatter between you and your Call of Duty platoon mates. I’m talking about the type of sportscaster-like commentary that describes what is going on onscreen and offers insights as to what is going through the player’s mind as things happen in the game.
To be clear, some game publishers are cool with you posting any and all videos, but some are not. Minecraft, for example, is well known for giving fans the right to publish. You should always check a game’s Terms of Service before posting a video about it online to make sure you don’t violate any policies.
Once you decide to create commentary for your gameplay video, you are going to have to decide whether you want to do it live while you are making your screen recording, or after you play back what you have recorded. If your plan is to do it live, you will need to make sure your screen recording software will not only record the audio from the game, but also from whatever microphone you are using to record your voice at the same time. You may find it difficult to concentrate on playing well and describing the action at the same time, in which case you will want to record your commentary track afterwards.
This is known as an overdub.
The next step is to import your gameplay into some type of video editing program. At the very least you will want to chop off those moments at the beginning and end of your recording that have nothing to do with gameplay. Editing is where you can do the types of things that gameplay video makers often do like speeding up and/or slowing down parts of the video and adding sound like a commentary track or possibly a webcam feed showing you playing the game.
Once you’ve edited your video, you’ll need to export the final movie. Try to keep your final render in HD. 1080p is best, but if you want a smaller file and shorter upload times, go with 720p. M-peg 4 (mp4) compression with a bit rate of 15,000 works great as an online movie format. Make sure you keep your framerate at 29.97 (or whatever your game’s native output may be). Since sound is an important part of the experience, choose AAC as your audio output format with the highest bitrate (up to 384) that your program will do.
Boom. You have your final video. Now it’s time to put it online for the world to see.
Once you get experienced with making gaming videos, you will probably want to know more about how others make money doing them. The good news is that there are lots of people out there monetizing their gameplay videos and it’s not difficult to figure out where to go.
If YouTube is your flavor of choice, you will need to be part of their Partner program. Becoming a YouTube Partner is easy because everyone is allowed to join, however, the terms vary by country. Connect your YouTube account with a Google Adsense account and you’re on your way. Just know that you may have to grow your viewership in order to get some of the advanced branding and monetization options that the successful YouTube Partners have. Just remember though that even if YouTube’s Terms of Service allows your video today, what their lawyers will allow can change at any time which could mean your video could be taken down.
Hence, what may be the single best option for serious gameplay video creators is to create an account at Twitch.TV.
Twitch.TV is one of the fastest-growing gaming sites on the net with over 23 million visitors a month! Twitch was formed as a community especially so that gamers could share their gameplay videos. On Twitch they host live gaming tournaments and broadcast web shows about gaming, but the vast depth of their platform comes from gameplay videos.
Here gamers become celebrities based upon their gameplay skills or even just their entertaining commentary. Twitch also has its own partner program to help you monetize your videos and the way it works is simple. The more people you can get watching your videos, the more money you can make – and the sky is the limit!
Lastly, after all the hard work you’ve put into making your videos, I would be remiss not to share a hard truth with you. We all want to believe that posting videos inside an established community or video sharing site can help you get noticed. Often though, it’s quite the opposite for those just getting their feet wet in the deep blue sea of Internet video. Those video makers out there who are racking up the kind of views you dream about hold the added advantage of being established in the sphere. To complicate things even further, it’s not as easy to get noticed today as it used to be. With more and more creators getting into Internet video, you can’t expect what worked a year ago to work for you now.
But it doesn’t mean it’s impossible. No, no. It’s still very possible.
You can’t get recognized unless you can be found. When it comes to the Internet, the best way to be found is by having your own branded website. Building your own brand inside someone else’s site makes it harder for search engines to locate you. Ask people who have built any sort of successful brand on the Web and most will tell you it’s not just about the content, it’s also about the ability of those who like what you do to easily be able to tell others where to find you. If you’re worried about racking up those view numbers, you can take the videos you’ve uploaded elsewhere and embed them on your site.
When you create your own branded Web portal, you not only show people you’re serious about what you do, but you gain the ability to market yourself in ways that video-sharing sites don’t allow. When you have your own site, you don’t have to have a competing video producer’s video thumbnail and link show up next to yours and possibly steal eyeballs away from your work. Also, when you host your own videos on your own site, you don’t incur the risk of running afoul of some other site’s Terms of Service changes — especially the kind of changes that can result in videos being taken down without your control.
Branding isn’t just for mega-corporations. It’s the difference between those who walk the walk and those who just talk the talk. Show the Web what you’re all about. Plus, you can even more clearly brand yourself with a .tv site to help you make that all-important first impression as someone who is serious about making videos.
Gaming and gaming videos aren’t just kids play anymore. When you can make an income doing what you love, there’s nothing better in the world. Plus, you’ll finally get to prove something to all those people who wondered why you were wasting all of your time playing video games. Just think of how sweet it will be seeing the look on the next doubter’s face when you show them the royalty check you just got for your gameplay vids.