SAN BRUNO: Games marketers could use the number of pre-launch video views of a new game as a leading indicator of future sales and as a way to help refine marketing strategies, according to YouTube.

The video-sharing site's white paper, Gamers On YouTube: Evolving Video Consumption, examined the anonymised views of gaming content on YouTube in the US during 2011 and 2012 to learn how gamers behave, what they value, and what this means to games marketers.

It found that gamers are spending an increasing amount of time viewing gaming videos on YouTube and established a correlation between video views and sales.

YouTube suggested that games marketers could use viewing data as a leading indicator of their future games sales.

In addition, using weekly data meant they could check audience awareness and interest over the period from pre-release to launch, enabling them to "better measure their buzz and then optimize their marketing strategies accordingly".

YouTube identified three clear trends regarding the type of content consumed. Before a game launch, gamers engaged with branded content, whether announcements, demos or launch videos, but post-launch they moved off to community-created videos, in the form of walkthroughs and how-tos.

A pre-launch, post-launch split was also evident in the screens used to watch videos. Around two thirds of pre-launch material was viewed on larger desktop screens, while post-launch inclined more towards mobile devices, with 50% of tutorials being viewed on smartphone or tablet.

Tutorials were also the type of content that earned most likes or dislikes, while reviews attracted comments and sharing.

Overall, the amount of time people spent watching gaming videos on YouTube during 2012 more than doubled over the year before. And one in three such views occurred on a smartphone or tablet, which, again, was almost double the rate of 2011.

This growth was partly the result of the rising numbers of people subscribing to games channels, as the report found that game views from subscribers jumped ninefold in 2012. Subscribers also watched content for twice as long as non-subscribers.

Peak times for viewing were between 6pm and 10pm, at weekends and during the summer months.

Data sourced from Google; additional content by Warc staff