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Lets Play Could Change The Industry

Is video integrating itself into gaming?
Freelance Journalist
3rd September 2013 02:01 PM

The announcement and imminent release of the PS4 and Xbox One have given the gaming world a lot to talk about, perhaps more so than any other new console generation before. The majority of the conversation has focussed on the differences between the two consoles, but one important thing they have in common that hasn’t seen as much attention is their ability to record and stream gameplay video.

The phenomenon of Let’s Play videos may seem like old news at this point, but the gaming industry has been surprisingly slow to catch on to their potential. Most publishers are indifferent at best, but Nintendo went as far as registering their intellectual property rights with YouTube in order to stop users making money from adverts attached to videos of their games (a decision they seem to have now quietly reversed). But with popular YouTube channels like PewDiePie and NerdCubed gaining subscriber and view counts in the millions, Let’s Play videos can reach numbers that marketers would be proud of with a fraction of the effort and cost. Even those with more modest figures help form part of the noise generated around games, positive or negative, that can influence sales and development.

But that’s not to say is isn’t still difficult or expensive. PC screen capture software has been available for a long time, but recording from consoles requires expensive equipment, especially to get the HD footage that’s the standard on YouTube these days, and that’s before you’ve considered the cost of editing software, or cameras and microphones to include yourself in your videos. But that’s all about to change. The PS4 and Xbox One both come with the ability to record gameplay to their hard drive and the cloud respectively, and to live stream to Twitch. The full details of this are still unclear, with recording lengths quoted as being from as little as 5 minutes to the Xbox One cloud, to as long as you have hard drive space for on PS4, but both systems include built in editing capabilities. Microsoft have already shown off their impressive Upload Studio which allows the use of Kinect to add an audio or a picture-in-picture video of you commentating over the gameplay footage.

Let’s Play videos are already a huge part of the gaming landscape - Thomas Was Alone creator Mike Bithell has stated in the past that he considers Let’s Play’s of his game to be a big factor in its success, and the Achievement Hunter in-joke turned mascot ‘The Tower of Pimps’ from their Minecraft videos has now been put permanently into the tutorial level of the game - but giving every console gamer the necessary tools to join in straight out of the box can only increase their influence. The more forward thinking publishers out there will already be dreaming up ways to use this to their advantage.

There’s one more thing to consider though. The PS4 and Xbox One aren’t the first consoles to offer gameplay recording - the ill-fated
OnLive streaming microconsole allows the last 10 seconds of footage to be captured at any point. They are supposed to be ‘brag clips’, but spend five minutes scrolling through the gallery and you’re faced with a sea of bugs, glitches and exploits. How the likes of Activision and EA will react to their flagship titles being shown like that remains to be seen.

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