Starcraft Statistics: The Return of the Youtube Caster
Published on 02/04/2017 09:00 PST by ROOT Gaming
When Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty launched and for a few years afterwards we had a number of wonderful content providers on Youtube. These were the years where H-to-the-usky-Husky, StarcraftHD, PsyStarCraft and others dominated the Youtube scene. Day9's popular dailies were killing it on Twitch but also left their mark on the Youtube crowds each week. During this period Youtube had more viewership hours (views x hours watched) than Twitch did on the average week, it was the biggest source for Starcraft 2 content out there. While we didn't see a lot of games upload by these casters, when they were the fans watched them time and again. These casters, some professional and some Youtube only, were a huge force on the scene.
But these pillars of the community grew older, naturally, and with that came other responsibilities and as the years passed they slowly moved on. Now we can't blame them for doing this but during the final two years of Heart of the Swarm a drought took place on Youtube for Starcraft 2 content. Now some kept working hard and producing content (like CarBot Animation which saw it's growth blow up during this time frame or Spike Butterfly's music videos) but for the most part the Youtube Starcraft 2 scene was very small with most content just being tournaments uploading their games.
But in the final months of Heart of the Swarm the Legacy of the Void beta dropped and quite a bit changed. New units and two new modes drew a lot of viewers to the game that may have exited in Wings of Liberty or just looked from the outside in. Husky came back and casted a few games in the beta including two Archon matches that rank among his most viewed. Once the game was released we saw a huge boom in popular Youtube personalities that may not focus on Starcraft 2 playing through the campaign and testing out the new units and modes. The Legacy of the Void campaign play throughs rank among the most popular campaign play throughs of any of the three versions. Throw in achievement hunter guides and a lot of Legacy of the Void traffic went through Youtube.
Most of this was a temporary boom in content but there were a few that rode the wave to try and establish a long term foothold in the scene. We saw new casters rise in the waning years of Heart of the Swarm and early Legacy of the Void years. Of these casters we had names like:
We also saw content makes help players make the jump from Heart to Legacy as the in game clock changed, many units were added or altered and the economy was overhauled. Shoutout to a few:
- Starcraft Academy
- JaKaTaK (Who was amazing before in his personal work and Tutorial Central)
- uncommon Gaming
- PiG began doing wonderful dailies as well
- Lowko increased his already large presence to do more guides and replay analysis (his face also is our image of choice too)
Also can't forget new highlight and history focused creators like:
But by far the largest growth market for Starcraft 2 on Youtube was co-op content, both play throughs and guides. Co-op quickly took off as the most popular game mode in Starcraft 2 but its Youtube audience was also large. So many great channels produce content weekly for new commanders, new play styles and for each new Mutator that Team 1 throws our way. To name a few of the many great co-op content creators out there:
Along with these Youtube focused personalities we also saw a new found focus among big communities members like Lowko, ZombieGrub, Nathanias, even Polt, and many others spend time posting co-op content on Youtube.
Surprisingly to some 2016 was the biggest year for Starcraft 2 content in both videos produced and viewership hours since 2013. While it's unlikely we'll ever return to the peak years from 2010 to 2012, for those working hard to give us great content, I hope they are rewarded. This is the second greatest period for the Starcraft 2 Youtube, it may have gone unnoticed for one big reason, often the more hardcore crowd doesn't spend as much time on there as the more casual players.
The crossover between the Twitch viewership and the Youtube viewership is quite low and it makes sense. Talking to Youtube personalities and surveying viewers they are less likely to watch live tournaments, log onto reddit or Team Liquid and may care more about the non-1v1 modes. What I found was that this new era of growth came for two reasons filling a void (like new casters taking over the spot of those who left) and new casual content (co-op).
To close this out I had the chance to interview Falcon Paladin who is the largest Youtube caster currently. In 2016 he actually nabbed the 9th most views of any non-tournament organization on Twitch or Youtube, the man had a ton of eyes on his videos last year.
(Edited for grammar and spelling)
Would you mind telling us a bit about yourself personally and your background in gaming?
I started out playing Super Mario Brothers on the NES when I was six years old. Also Duck Hunt. I was terrible but they were my favorite thing. My parents never let me have a console, but we had a computer, so by default I became a PC gamer.
What were a few of your first PC games?
I played a lot of PC shareware games, like Jill of the Jungle and Jazz Jackrabbit and Commander Keen. Then got into 3D gaming like Descent and Terminal Velocity. OOoh and Return to Zork, the first game I got that had video. My mind was blown.
Also played a ton of Wing Commander 3, another amazing visual game at the time. Also King's Quest VI and VI.
So what was your first RTS?
A friend of mine introduced me to Warcraft II in 1996, and I loved it so much. My parents thought it was too violent for me, but I was at my friend's house pretty much every day, so I got a lot of time with it and
it was my first introduction to the paladin archetype, and I loved it. Human all the way, even though Bloodlusted ogres were way OP in online play. Other friends of mine tried to get me into Command and Conquer and Age of Empires, but those didn't stick.
THEN StarCraft came out and I was in love. Bunch of us pooled our money to buy a copy of the game on its release date and burned six copies. I've since bought StarCraft and Brood War about four times, so I don't feel too bad :)
The first time I saw an Archon, I was in awe. Such a cool unit. That said, I was immediately drawn to Zerg, as their macro style and massing units strategy appealed to me for ways I still cannot describe.
So when Wings of Liberty came out did you get the same feeling from playing Zerg or did you feel the need to switch races?
I got the same feeling, for sure. Funny thing is I didn't see the need to learn new strategies in WoL and assumed all my Brood War knowledge would translate. After getting crushed my first few matches I decided maybe I was wrong.
At what point did you start watching eSports?
I started looking for SC2 YouTube videos during the beta because I was so stoked for it to come out and I didn't get into the beta myself. Found Husky right away, then that moved on to HDStarCraft and PsyStarCraft, mostly. All of whom are dead. I also got into watching live tournaments around that time, but that never turned into a regular thing. Too much time commitment to watch an entire day's worth of games, and I never liked the pro casters as much as I did Husky.
So when you first started casting was there one you looked at and said "I want to model myself similar to them" or did you want to just be true to how you already talked?
It was pretty much Husky. Entertainment over super deep analysis. Make people laugh, and teach them, but laughing is more important.
What made you cast your first game?
The day I realized Husky, HD and Psy were dead and never coming back and it made me sad. So I said "Self, what's stopping you from doing this?" I looked into it and realized my video card came with recording software, and I had a headset with a microphone, so I gave it a shot.
You started in early 2015 and it obviously started slow with only a few dozen views on each video, was it hard to stay motivated during that period?
Nah, I knew I was good enough to get something of a following. I researched other casters and saw how few views they got initially and found encouragement.
Who did you look to as a way to help form a plan?
I pretty much just wing it, to be honest. I try stuff and see what happens. It's science!
Haha sometimes that is the best way. So in those early days you dabbled in casting a few other games, what made you decide to go exclusively Starcraft 2?
Hearthstone is so slow, I couldn't fill the time between turns and I respect the people who can. StarCraft always has something going on somewhere. Upgrades, production, scouting, harrassment, etc. I also gave up on trying to stream WoW because I couldn't think of a way to do it in a way that was interesting.
When the Legacy of the Void beta came out it was still early in your channel's history and gave you a big boost in viewership, did this help drive you knowing there was this potential out there?
Yep. It was nice to see to search LotV on YouTube and see mostly my stuff back then. I knew if anyone was looking for beta content on YouTube, they'd eventually stumble upon me.
During the beta you had a lot of regulars submitting games like VampyWorm, NightEnD, Walnut and Railgan, was it nice to have these consistent players to cast?
It helped me a lot. I was struggling hard to find replays at that time. VampyWorm, Railgan, Tang and others were a godsend.
Since those early days you've casted a lot of pro games as well, is there a player you enjoy casting, for example their style is fun to cast or they are just exciting?
I love Psistorm Gaming's True. His use of lings in ways I never thought possible makes his games really fun to cast.
With pro games, is it hard to cast tournament replays if you've already seen the game or do you not watch many tournaments live so it isn't an issue?
The latter, I never was much of a tournament watcher in the first place, as explained, so this just gives me a reason for it. I don't cast games I've already watched.
So as you've gotten a larger base you've diversified within Starcraft 2 casting other types of games like team, monobattles, lower rank, cheese, etc. Was this done for fun, variety or just keep yourself from getting bored with casting?
Honestly it's a way to keep viewers interested. I am fine casting nothing but standard 1v1 all the time but the viewers come back if there's different types of casts. I'm have a lot of fun casting the other types, as well, or I wouldn't cast them, but the diversification definitely came from user feedback and keeping people coming back.
They do say variety is the spice of life. Well at this point you have over 15,000 subscribers and have over 4.5 million views so congrats on that. At what point did you feel like you were making progress, that this was going to work?
Growth really took off September 2015 and continued through February 2016. Went from like 1,000 views per day to 18,000 views per day. It was amazing.
Do you think a lot of viewers binge multiple games in one sitting? I ask because that I what I do and I don't want to be alone.
I have a lot of viewers tell me they watch me at lunch and then in the evening. I've also heard from subs who tell me they're going through the entire Into the Void playlist or watching everything I've ever cast from day 1. I salute those people, that's a lot of stuff.
A few closing questions. About how long does the average video take to make, from choosing the replay to uploading it.
From the time I choose it to be cast until it's 100% edited and ready to post when I've got scheduled to is about 12 hours.
Can you remember the first game where you finished and felt you casted it really well?
Trying, but no. It's all a blur.
I guess with how many you've done that makes sense. In closing any thoughts for your viewers and subscribers?
I'm just really appreciative of everyone who watches my stuff. May StarCraft never die.
Thanks so much for doing this.
I want to end this by saying for a long time Youtube has been knocked by the community, when they tried to post on reddit or Team Liquid they were downvoted or mocked. This needs to stop, it's fine to not enjoy someone but they work hard and shouldn't be knocked for that. So please, find a content creator in the lists above, or look on your own, and give them a follow.
About the author:
Topher is an American football and eSports writer with a focus on statistical metadata research. You can follow Topher on Twitter