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Let’s Play videos can encourage, discourage video game purchases

Video games aren’t just played anymore.  They’re watched as well.  They’re livestreamed, filmed, commentated and collaborated through. A large portion of the inclination to watch media personalities play through games can be seen in various episodical video series commonly referred to as Let’s Plays.

Students and other individuals on budgets often use Let’s Plays to get a sense of a game and gauge its worth in terms of time and monetary investment.  A Let’s Play can convince a buyer of a game’s prospective enjoyment and overall experience value.

Let’s Plays are approximately 15-minute videos where a gamer or gamers play through a game sequentially for viewers on YouTube or other video platforms.  Episodes are released regularly until a game is completed.  Games may also be played and streamed on Twitch in one sitting.  

These videos and streams have aroused worry for the gaming industry, as some are disinclined to purchase a game after having watched through its entirety for free online.

In a blog post by a writer with the username “olsn,” the avid gamer and Let’s Play viewer explained that it was much easier and cheaper to watch games in full HD on YouTube than purchase the games and a high end computer to play them himself.

In a survey done on his blog post, gathering answers from 641 readers, 160 of those readers admitted to having “lost the desire to buy a game by watching a Let’s Play video.”

Boise resident and University of Idaho mechanical engineering freshman Jeff Bishop said that, after having watched an entire Let’s Play series featuring the game Limbo, he never ended up playing the game himself.

“Someone even bought it for me as a gift, but I never played it because I watched the Let’s Play and knew how it ended and where all the jump scares were,” he said.

Bishop continued to say that most games that are “supposedly ruined” by Let’s Plays are spoiled because of their emphasis on one, immersive storyline.

Gaming enthusiast and Boise State hopeful William Barnhart explained that games based solely on story without any sort of intensive gaming element should be considered “visual novels.”

Barnhart explained that Let’s Play videos might be one form of spoiling a game’s storyline, but spoiling in and of itself won’t ever cease to exist.  Game makers, according to Barnhart, have to create games that are worth experiencing and trying out in spite of such spoilers.

More often than not, viewers, like Barnhart, watch Let’s Play videos specifically to listen to the YouTuber or streamer’s commentary on the game.

“I’ve watched too many shitty games just for the person playing them,” Barnhart said.

Barnhart will often buy games with his limited budget that he watches Let’s Plays of, but only if they are “good games” like Minecraft or Cube World.

“Good games won’t be ruined by Let’s Plays,” Barnhart said.  “If they are ruined, then they aren’t worth buying in the first place.”

About Justin Kirkham (124 Articles)
Justin Kirkham is currently the Editor-in-Chief at the Arbiter and has been pursuing journalism since high school. Having interned as a blogger for YouTuber Strawburry17 and having invested far too many hours in news and cultural writing, he aims to continue working within the realms of gaming/technology, environmental and social justice journalism. He is strangely attuned to pop culture and can name both of Taylor Swift's cats.
Contact: Twitter

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