In a world where the most subscribed YouTuber is a gaming channel, it is indisputable that gaming is one of the kings, and one of the staples of the website. But which games sit where on the hierarchy is a far more intriguing question.
YouTube has released the first of a “monthly” service, in which they publish the YouTube Top Ten Trending Games for the previous month. This list the veritable popularity of different games on the website, tallied up and ranked through both watchtime, (or viewer retention) and the number of separate uploaded videos which relate to the specific game. With the list for January of 2016 in hand, there are a mix of some calming regularity, and some genuine surprises.
Topping the YouTube Top Ten Trending Games list is, somewhat shockingly, Plants vs Zombies : Garden Warfare 2. It’s sudden growth in popularity, enough to best some of the other games on the list has been attributed to “an open beta on PS4 and Xbox One” which has apparently been enough to revitalize the waveringly popular Garden Warfare series, whose first installment rang back in early 2014. It is actually quite charming to see such an innocent game ranking so highly, but leaves it open to question which demographic spiked the view count.
Hilariously, Tom Clancy’s :The Division takes the second spot. There should be no surprises here, the open beta launching last month to much fanfare and equal criticism. It would be easy to make jokes around the comparison between the success of the open betas of Plants vs Zombies and The Division based off of these figures. However it is more likely the time of the month at which these betas ran, the The Division far later, thus leaving less time for content creators on YouTube to actually create content, and thereby the viewcount and popularity suffering in January. It is still worth mentioning that this should be considered a success, still managing to take the 2nd highest position with only 3 days between the Xbox One beta and the end of the month.
Third comes Dying Light, highly unsurprising for anyone who has kept up with the game, as early copies of the long anticipated DLC “The Following” were sent out to many prominent YouTube personalities. Alongside this came a brand spanking new trailer for the DLC, and thus it is obvious to see how the views and watchtime added up, as it became hard to avoid Techland’s marketing campaign, and based off of the YouTube Top Ten Trending Games for last month, one can safely say it worked effectively.
Subnautica came in 4th, and one can easily see why. Already a very YouTube friendly game in it’s exploration, vastness of content and constant commentary and secret finding potential, the H.20 update (fantastically named) shot life into the early access title. Just searching it on YouTube it is easy to see how it placed so high, as big name channels pick it up for multiple, 20+ minute videos, which are likely to hold viewer retention through the sheer vastness of new content. The only reason it is perhaps not higher is the prevalence of the new betas on this list.
Goat Simulator takes 5th. Must I say anything about this? Is anyone surprised by this? Goat Simulator has been a YouTube behemoth. Everyone and their dog has played it for their channel, and with the new updates and DLC, such as the Goat Simulator: Payday DLC which launched on the 15th, the defibrillator has been applied directly to the chest of a game which was slowly vanishing from existence. I would predict we would not see an absence of Goat Simulator on this list until at least late this year.
The YouTube Top Ten Trending Games list places Lego Marvel’s Avengers at 6th. Somewhat predictable, launching on the 26th of January to a critical reception one comes to expect of Lego titles, managing 6’s and 7’s mostly, due to the somewhat mindless nature of the game. But a new game is a new game, and a new Lego game is always a nice little comedic boost to a YouTuber’s video feed, as there is commonly a great deal to play off of. Whether that appeals to the average viewer or not is somewhat polarising, which provides rationale for its placing on this list, as the Lego games begin to blend together again.
Shovel Knight grabs 7th. This is actually quite impressive given the game, while excellent, was released all the way back in 2014, had had it’s romp, and was thought to be buried in YouTube’s archives forever. The addition of a co-op mode not only brought people back to the game, but created a whole new market for the beautiful platformer. This revitalised its YouTube presence as much as it could, but the fact is, for a game that people have seen the ins and outs of so far in the past, there was really no chance it would grab a higher spot than this, given the competition.
8th goes to Rocket League, and it is actually quite surprising that it doesn’t place higher. It has content perfect for YouTube, and only released mid last year. The positioning of it so high is likely due to the fact that, given the style of gameplay, if you have seen one game of Rocket League, you have most likely seen most of them, and any further viewing will be short clips of impressive shots, flukes, or the perfect defense. Thus while still managing to hold onto it’s spot on the list of the YouTube Top Ten Trending Games, without a shake up of the gameplay., it is questionable whether it can hold this spot.
Smite takes 9th, the inaugural position higher in the rankings which one would expect to alternate between separate MOBAs as time goes on, and seasons switch in and out. Speaking of which, the Smite World Championship running from the 7th-10th of January not only boosted its initial popularity, but in the following days and weeks, one can imagine recorded games became common viewing, even down to specific moments. While this probably enticed many people, one can not really expect the MOBAs to place within the top 5 at any given point, as there is certainly a “crowd” who follows them specifically, being impenetrable to anyone else. Contrast that to say the The Division, which can draw views from any group it pretty much wants.
Strangely, the 10th spot goes to Boom Beach, the mobile game. It apparently spiked in popularity during and after the Dr T’s Mega Crab update, adding a new event in which players were matched against a literal “giant enemy crab” to earn resources and new items. Being a limited time event, the curiosity of many people was piqued, corralling them to find the footage online, if they could not find it of their own right in their own game.
So there we go. This was the first of the monthly YouTube Top Ten Trending Games lists, as said before, some surprises, some normality, overall a good distribution and one that’s diverse enough to be endearing.