One of the most compelling prospects of becoming a streamer is the seemingly endless flexibility that is afforded to content creators. While the truth of the matter is significantly more complex than that, the fact remains that content creators have many options at their disposal when it comes to their unique content strategy. Every new streamer has at one point asked themselves one or multiple of the following:
- Should I only stream games I’m good at?
- Should I stream what’s currently popular?
- Should I stream games with smaller viewership & less competition?
- If I stream a new game will my viewers continue to watch?
These questions are extremely difficult to answer as the solution is massively dependent on the individual and their strengths, motivation, and preferences. Furthermore the regular changes to discoverability algorithms and revolving door of popular games add another layer of complexity to the issue. So, as opposed to speculating as to what the correct answer is for you & your stream, let us turn to a content creation veteran for some much needed insight & advice. FightinCowboy has been uploading regularly on YouTube for over a decade. In that span he has accumulated nearly 900k subs by sticking to his highly consistent content strategy. We recently spoke to Cowboy in our latest episode of “Behind the Stream” in order to hear his take on the content creator journey.
(Questions/Responses have been paraphrased/lightly edited for the sake of text readability!)
We initiated the interview with Cowboy by asking about the highlights & notable moments that shaped his own content strategy.
“Back in the day everything was a gameplay walkthrough, that’s what is going to get clicks and that’s what the Google Trend was. I started shifting away from that, and started making actual let’s plays and actual walkthroughs. If I called something a walkthrough it was meant to be like the walkthroughs that we would have as kids growing up. If you got stuck in a game you would go up to Gamestop or Walmart and look at the walkthrough guide and figure out how to get past it. I wanted to make the term synonymous with an actual guided experience once again. I think that was the biggest thing that shifted my content was that differentiation between ‘hey I can still do let’s play content and things that are more casual and fun’ but, at the same time if I’m going to go out of my way and make a proper guide I’m going to really make sure that the guide hits home."
Awesome, Cowboy found a style of content creation that he not only enjoys but that differentiates him from the bulk of traditional let’s play content creators. Cowboy’s content library contains games from a variety of genres with large disparities in mainstream popularity. Clearly this strategy has worked for Cowboy, but, why not employ a strategy that revolves around building up a community around a single game? Wouldn’t that be easier to focus on as opposed to bouncing around titles that generate varying degrees of interest from your audience? Here’s what he had to say about that:
“From a more general perspective the biggest thing when making content is to play something that you are enjoying. I’m not big on Fortnite, Among Us, or Minecraft, so when all 3 of those games were dominating the Youtube ecosystem I didn’t go out of my way to play them. I knew I wasn’t going to have fun doing this, there are two things to this. One, if you’re playing something because it’s the new hot-ness and not enjoying it that is going to come across to people. Two, if you’re building up your audience in that one category & eventually decide to move on, your audience may not agree with you. I think that’s a pitfall that a lot of people fall into when making content. I made a lot of friends from Dark Souls that only played Dark Souls & are currently counting down the days until Elden Ring. When they would stream Dark Souls they would have 200-300 viewers, but when they switched to any other game it would drop to double digits. It’s very hard because once you’ve established yourself as a Souls-like channel people don’t want to see you play non-souls likes. I have a buddy who’s channel has been focused on Monster Hunter for the longest time. He branched out and was playing something else and almost immediately people were saying ‘Oh, you’re done with Monster Hunter?’”
This is not the end all be all, Cowboy is offering a snapshot into what he has found to be successful from both personal experience & observations made during his content creation journey. His advice would of course be to find a multitude of games to build your audience upon, however, what is right for you and your brand will likely be different in one or many ways. We’ll leave you with one more tidbit of advice from Cowboy to wrap up this piece.
“I love variety, I think variety is the spice of life. Even if you’re not playing every release, just having 3 to 4 solid games that you can bounce back and forth between, I think that will be very healthy for your audience.”
Good luck and happy streaming!