150,000 YouTube Views = 10 Sales, Game Developer Says…

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Music isn’t the only industry having problems with YouTube, especially when it comes to dismal conversion and payout levels.  According to details just blogged by one of the biggest gaming developers, conversions from YouTube are just above zero.  “The idea that video reviewers on YouTube or TwitchTV are the future way of selling in the video game industry may be correct, but the evidence is not here yet,” explained John Ardussi, president of Game Mechanics.

“My argument is that these gameplay videos are more like content than commercials.  There’s a big difference between getting the word out and sales.”

Observed conversion rates, according to Ardussi’s numbers, are about 0.2 percent (on a good day).   But getting people from YouTube to the purchase page introduces another difficult conversion hurdle.  “When page visits are high enough that we have seen a bounce, visits to purchases have been 1.5-3.4%,” Ardussi continued.  “We are still in beta so this may change after we release.  I will post an update after we go live.  But for now –

“150,000 views will generate 300 page visits and 4-10 sales. <– Did you see that? 150,000 views = 4-10 sales.”

For Ardussi, the question is whether YouTube is worth the trouble.  “I never would have guessed that. Even if you stretch that out to the 4-5 million views of a PewDiePie, that is 120-300ish. That is the brass ring of sales from the top guy. Not very impressive.”

16 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    But what about all that free promotion they get???

    • Faza (TCM)

      That’s a joke, right? ‘Coz what he’s saying is that there’s no actual promotion going on.

      • Paul Resnikoff

        Yes, that was a joke at the top (I think, though text tends to deadpan humorous inflection).

        On the promotional point, Ardussi is making the point that there is promotion, but what does that lead to? If everyone knows your song, but no one buys your music or attends your concert, it’s hard to call that a win (though it’s better than no one knowing your song, of course). In the gaming world, the goal is a little simpler: to sell games, which Ardussi is saying doesn’t seem to be happening in a meaningful way from YouTube ‘exposure’.

        The parallels are very striking to other media areas like music: only the artists with stratosphere level views are receiving any substantive income, and the payouts are way worse than Spotify. Relatively strong views and exposure might not be enough to pay the bills or bring in enough money to create the next release.

        The stinger here is that YouTube is making billions…

        • Anonymous

          Yes, it was a joke. Youtube is total bullshit, basically no different from Grooveshark except sometimes there are videos with the songs.

    • el visitor'

      that’s probably 10 more sales than any band would get.


    I’d like to see this graphed out with a slope and research done beyond the lower view brackets. I am not buying this one bit. It’s counter intuitive on many levels. In order to present this as accurate quantitative data, one must show the slope of sales/views across a wide range, so this data may be accurate for a narrow range of lower view counts.

    How about a video in the 500 million views range? How much sales then? It’s def not 30,000.

    At what threshold does a video (statistically speaking) reach the one million in sales bracket? I’m betting it’s less than 500 million views.

    -Real Talk

  3. Dave 5000

    People need to understand that youtube views are not the same as sales. That is all there is to it. Trying to compare youtube views to sales isn’t reality.

  4. RyAn HIckmAn

    There is much more to it that needs factored in.

    First you have to factor in the percentage of views that are on mobile vs desktop. Second you have to determine the referral source of the traffic. Next you have to calculate the % of mobile in-app views, embeded views, etc. All of those things need weighed first before generalizing such a metric.

    The number of views doesn’t matter at all if it is the wrong audience, watching for the wrong reasons. What matters is the quality of that audience. That is something that needs to be present in how these conversion ratios are determined.

    • danwriter

      I agree, and other posters here have raised similar points: anecdotal examples don’t fully and accurately portray the situation.

  5. GGG

    Don’t feel like googling, but it’d be interesting to see what the ratio was for radio play+MTV to album sales through time. At the height of CD sales an act with 3-4 hits would sell what, 5M? 10M at the absolute most (but even that would be over a couple years). Now, before people jump on me, I’m not arguing it was also 150K to 10 sales, but would be interesting to add up reach of all the Top 40 stations, plus TRL ratings and see what album numbers were.

  6. PTSoundHound

    Umm… surely the difference between YouTube views to Video Game Sales and YouTube Views to Music Sales is that is far more nuanced than that?

    Firstly let’s look at the price points – typical top tier video game price in the UK is around £45 GBP ($77 USD) whereas typical price of a single track (let’s face it, that’s all you’re getting by watching a single YouTube video) on iTunes is close £0.79 ($1.35 USD). Getting someone to stump up $77 versus <$2 ain't the same thing.

    Secondly, let's remember what you're getting on YouTube. For a video game you're getting a trailer; a non-interactive story setting experinece that is designed to tempt you in to explore more. For a music track you're getting the thing. The. Actual. Thing. Not some analogy, simulation, demonstration or depiction but the ACTUAL product. It's the difference between seeing a picture of a strawberry and tasting a sample of an actual strawberry – not even in the same ballpark.

    Thirdly – I hope he's not saying that they only sold 4-10 copies of a new title in total. Click-thought rates are a pretty primitive way to track ROI – let's say for example I've seen the trailer and want to buy the game. Do I a) create a new account on a new website, clicking on that "confirm your account" email before having to enter my credit card number, postal address etc. etc or b) head to my favourite on-line store with one-click-ordering and guaranteed next day delivery. No brainer.

    I think the bigger concern is how come these guys are only converting 300 visits by people who are actively seeking that specific product, to a page specifically designed for selling that new, exciting product into only 4-10 sales…

  7. Jeejee

    There are always people who don’t believe anything. I personally do not know whether that is because they are dumb or just playing one. If they were wise, as wise as their answers, then they would be very rich, because they have answers on everything and mostly knew everything before anything was even brought up.

  8. hippydog

    The most important part in the article was,
    The “GAME” the developer was talking about was in Beta..

    Its pretty rare for people to pay anything for a game still in beta testing..

    These number are NOT surprising..