Creators As Business Potential
Here’s a fact, almost a law: on the Internet, the big gets bigger. It then follows that the longer an incumbent has sustained its growth and dominance over an industry, the more difficult is to challenge its status quo.
Last January, after raising our series A, we set out to challenge this fundamental principle. We aimed to create a platform that would empower the long tail of creators. A place where an unknown creator — as long as she creates great content — can thrive, build an audience, and turn her passion into a sustainable lifestyle.
We were naively assuming that we could change how the Internet works. However, our thesis was sustained by a set of cornerstone ideas that turned this wishful narrative into an actionable reality.
- To start with, the problem: gaming creators are struggling on YouTube and other incumbent platforms. In a nutshell, to make money, the “growth at all cost” dynamic driving YouTube forced niche creators towards publishing click-bait content.
- On top of a problem for creators, a reasonable business case can also be made in favor of the industry. What for YouTube has for long remained an ignored and niche market, it is not anymore. Gaming has earned its place in the world and gamers have become one of the single largest cohorts on Earth.
- Given this reality, it is fair to assume that by leveraging a vertical platform focused solely on gaming, we’ll be able to:
- First, build unique features and put ourselves in a position to create an unmatchable experience for both the creator and the viewer.
- Second, recreate an environment where creators can build audiences and profit from small niches; and fans can show appreciation, and feel closer to their idols. Which will ultimately lead to better monetization mechanisms that will connect them in novel ways.
While this might sound like a plan, I assume most of you still remain unconvinced because, so far, the plan lacks its key component: the “how”. In this post, I’m not going to spell out the specific features that will make it happen. Mainly because the output is still very fragile and lacks the product consistency to be presented.
However, I wanted to outline the broader strokes of the plan to, at least, rough out the path that eventually is going to take us there.
The ultimate goal is to generate enough organic engagement and optimize the user flows within the platform to uplift creators with smaller audiences. The strategy is sustained by three pillars that work in conjunction:
- Boosting discoverability by going vertical and non-live: each minute 500 hours of content are uploaded to YouTube, which implies 82 years of content every single day — this is just one platform. The volumes and the growth are massive, but the problem is not only quantity. The material uploaded ranges from cooking lessons to physics and, of course, with very different degrees of quality. Then, how do you put all that in front of the viewer?
- Rewarding quality over clicks: YouTube solves it with a click-based algorithm. It not only frustrates creators but also narrows the results for the viewers to the most recent and “successful”, then makes them decide based on just the title and a thumbnail.
- Becoming creator-centric: content creators are the undisputed stars of this show. They drive audiences, they are the creative minds behind the show. But with the rise of video streaming creators are realizing that being a creator is not only a hobby, but can also become a business.
We go vertical and non-live
Going vertical — in this case for gaming and GenZ entertainment content — lets us benefit from several advantages that seem simple, yet differential. Fellow gamers are naturally segmented, this allows us to focus and become domain experts, ultimately understanding how to structure and present content. Once a user arrives at Gamestry, we already know she is a gamer expecting to find gaming content on our platform.
Nevertheless, vertical platforms already exist. However, they are mostly focused on live stream content. Unfortunately, a live stream requires the viewer to be there at an exact moment. It comes as no surprise that the vast majority of the audience and content out there is non-live. Non-live allows us to understand and categorize content in a way that is simply impossible for live streams. Trying to solve for discoverability, we are convinced that non-live is the way to go.
We not only believe that all of the value we can offer to our customers comes from this trade-off, but it also enables a wide range of product functionalities that, otherwise, wouldn’t be possible.
In other words, by leveraging a gaming niche, we can build features and make certain design assumptions to put ourselves in a unique position to create an unmatched experience for both the creator and the viewer.
Tying all this back to the product, the vertical approach enables one of our product principles: meticulous categorization. The fact that we know in advance the nature of our content permits a specific solution for their gaming needs. It makes for a better experience — easier for the user to browse and discover content in ways that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.
Categorization allows us to customize the experience for each game, adapting the content showcase to particular occasions, special events — in response to quick shifts on the market — but most importantly, recommending the content you’re most interested in. It all leads to a customized, tailored gaming experience, made specifically for you.
We reward quality over clicks
Engagement, not clicks, is the best proxy to user happiness. A high completion rate tells more about how interesting a video was than how many people clicked on it.
As mentioned above, the Internet is flooded with content, so in a world in which the supply of video is guaranteed, the most valuable commodity is viewers’ time. The question is, how can viewers cope with such a flow of content? How can they make the best use of time distinguishing the pieces that matter within this ocean of possibilities?
Quality is the only answer. Following the steps of diligent categorization comes another product principle at Gamestry: surfacing high-quality content. Over time, we’ve managed to sustain a sustained positive engagement trend through unique product discoverability — powered by our enriched content.
Since we are a vertically integrated platform we already know a few valuable data points that will help our users connect and engage with the content in advance. But why stop here? We believe in engagement, and not clicks, as the best proxy to user happiness, and we have been at work to embed this pattern right into our product.
This also ties back to the creators’ experience. The quality — and thus the success — of content they upload depends on a wide range of factors, not just clicks. A view is not a view at Gamestry.
By doing this, we enter into a positive feedback loop where our creators are motivated to upload higher-quality content, focusing on engagement as opposed to clickbait enhancers such as thumbnails and catchy titles. Thus attacking one of their main anxieties as creators, where they aren’t left wondering why they’re making great content and not getting views. This leads to the next point.
We are creator centric
Today, creators hold an important role in the lives of viewers. Their engaging content captures viewers’ hearts and more importantly, their time. Once a viewer finds a creator they truly connect with, they will certainly follow them regardless of the platform.
As current platforms don’t put creators at the focal point of their business model, we are in front of a unique opportunity to bring on these creators and become the platform to create a rock-solid relationship with them.
The best thing we can do to attract them is simply to help them. In other words: a successful creator-centric platform will expand the pie instead of eating it.
From a product standpoint, we see creators as business potential. The creator economy has enabled any of us to become creators and directly connect to large audiences. The immediate consequence of all this is that, at some point, all creators will become businesses themselves.
With the rise of the creator economy, creators have started to see their activity as a business, but this has also forced a lot of them to deal with business proposals, legal contracts, hiring agents, paying salaries, taxes… all on top of creating top-quality content. We are flipping this problem on its head, by offering personal and integrated services that will help creators thrive.
This implies that a brand new economy will emerge to serve these “creators as a business”. Services that were long thought exclusively for business will start to emerge around creators. The opportunity is not only huge but untapped.
Failing to serve this new breadth of creators is not only shortsighted, but it fails to tackle the larger picture. At Gamestry creators are treated as a business, with all of its implications. The very moment this happens, a new world of possibilities opens up.
At the end of the day, you didn’t go into business to stress over money — quite the opposite — so we’ve got that covered. Businesses rely on third parties all the time to handle their chores and focus on their craft, hence why not assume that the same will happen around independent creators? From taking care of payouts, taxes, affiliates, authors… that’s our thing, you do yours.
Gamestry offers an optimized and transparent way for viewers to discover content and connect with their favorite creators. It also empowers professional creators to boost their careers.