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Stateside: Developers, video sharing is your future

Stateside: Developers, video sharing is your future

Mobile is widely-perceived as being on the cutting edge of gaming, but there's one section where it has fallen far behind one of the hottest trends in gaming: video sharing.

Despite social media being one of the key features of mobile, when it comes to people sharing the games they're playing, mobile has been well behind the rest of the industry.

For mobile to keep up with this increasingly-vital section of gaming, developers and even the platform holders need to take steps to make mobile game video sharing a viable reality in 2014.

Watching games instead of playing them became a hot topic in 2013 between the rise of esports livestreams drawing viewership numbers rivaling TV broadcasts, PewDiePie becoming YouTube's most-subscribed to user, and Xbox One and PS4 making streaming gameplay to the internet a built-in feature.

As well, controversies over content ownership on YouTube wrapped up the discussion of 2013 heading into the holidays.

It seems like everyone in gaming is talking about streaming and sharing video of games - everyone but on the mobile side of things.

Poetry in motion

The appeal of game videos can seem silly to the uninitiated, but it's simple: seeing a game in motion can help sell it more than the written word or still screenshots can do.

While I, like others, personally prefer written articles because I can read faster than I can watch a video of a fixed length, I have had games sold to me based on seeing video of them. Getting to see a game in a raw, unfiltered form rather than a trailer can do a great job at showing what the experience will actually be like.

It's not just the crazy kids who see the benefits - even industry veterans are taking to videos rather than written criticism. And as someone who covers games, I find myself thinking about how to incorporate video into my work more and more.

But mobile has been an afterthought to the topic of video sharing. While PCs and current-generation consoles are making it easier to share videos, mobile requires external equipment for the most part, or developers to plug their games into platforms like Everyplay.

However, there's growing evidence that the impact of video sharing can work for mobile - Color Sheep from Trinket Studios saw dramatically more sales from a video feature than from a feature in the New York Times.

I believe that other games could benefit from such video featuring, if more mobile games were featured by popular channels.

A question of content

YouTube's Content ID issues also mean mobile could become an interesting player in the video scene.

Developers are starting to enable players to create and even monetise videos of gameplay and even Rami Ismail's popular presskit now has a built-in monetisation permission option.

Plenty of video creators have the technical capability to capture iOS and Android footage. The bigger hurdle is getting past the often-dismissive attitude toward mobile games from core gamers.

But if mobile games started to break through thanks to being demoed by reputable video creators, then the tide could turn. Money could be made by developers who promoted to them as well as standard press outlets. Those who exploit this will be in position to succeed.

Another reason why mobile could be part of the video sharing movement is because short-form video creation from users is already possible on mobile and could stand to grow further.

Kamcord
and Everyplay already exist for recording and sharing game footage in some form, and while they've snuck into some high-profile titles including Bad Piggies, Nimble Quest, and Hill Climb Racing, the services could truly take off in 2014 as  interest in video sharing increases.

Indeed, sharing short videos could play well with the trend of short-form video sharing on a platforms like Vine and Instagram, too. It seems like short-form video is underserved among video sharing and creation - games that start to allow the sharing of short clips could find life on social media, which would help promote the games in question.

Next steps

For anyone with a game that works well on video, I have to say, why not implement video sharing if it's possible? People want to watch and share interesting videos of games, so why not use the tools to make it happen?

The problem there is that mobile game video sharing is often a bit of an awkward experience, and this is due in part to the fact that there's no clean way to share to popular services for quick sharing.

Yes, uploading to Facebook and YouTube is certainly possible – some services will even do it for you - but for those that want to tweet out a quick video, this requires third-party services that often aren't implemented for easy viewing in Twitter apps, and services that are, like Vine and Instagram, haven't made API access readily available.

Also of note: because these are not system-level functions, but implemented by third-party developers, performance can take a hit and is often imperfect.

Thus, if iOS and Android make it easy, almost trivial to record video much like they enable users to take screenshots - and services do the same to enable users to share it - then mobile's video revolution could really take off.

Android supports a base-level screen recording as of KitKat; if Google opened this up to developers, and if Apple created an easy-to-use function for iOS, video sharing could become a technical reality - and someone would just need to figure out how to make sharing to friends and followers seamless.

The hurdles feel less technical and more about access at this point.

And really, there's such incentive for everyone involved in mobile gaming, that they need to become a reality. Developers need to implement existing services, if not roll their own as necessary, because sometimes the best way to get people to buy a game is to let them watch the game.

Chicago-based Carter Dotson is a senior writer at 148Apps.com, which was acquired by PocketGamer.biz publisher Steel Media in 2012.


Stateside columnist

Freelance writer covering mobile and gaming for @toucharcade, @Gamezebo, and more!

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