I’ve been streaming on Mixer for about two and a half years now and plugging away at my YouTube channel for about six and a half (I still have a hard time wrapping my head around that one), plus poking at that podcast experiment of mine. While I still love making stuff, my growth has never been stellar and I’ve been suffering a plateau lately, at a time when many others seem to be thriving. While some of this is due to things beyond my control, I’ve also been trying to look more inward and figure out what I can do to improve. I’ve tried to change things up here and there and nothing’s really worked. Then I realized, why don’t I ask you all? You’re the ones I do this for after all.
I put out a simple, anonymous survey on Google Forms to try to get some feedback so I can figure out how to improve. Why anonymous? Firstly, I get that providing honest criticism of someone, even–or especially–if they’re a friend and even if they’re asked for it, is often not easy. Secondly, I wanted people who knew of me but either haven’t watched yet or don’t any more to also be able to have a voice. This obviously creates vectors for abuse (which a couple of idiots availed themselves of) but it also brought out the kind of brutal honesty I asked for. The survey consisted of a few multiple choice questions and two optional essay questions. I won’t be posting those answers to avoid risk of being identifying but I will address them broadly.
Even though I only got a little over 20 responses (after 2 clearly trolling ones were excluded), the insights I gained were fascinating and the comments were valuable. Thank you to all of you who took the time to help! I’m going to break down the results, discuss the comments generally and see what lessons can be taken for them. Will this get me out of the slump? Who knows, but it’s worth a try!
With that said, let’s dig in:
Question 1: Does Indie Showcase (first impressions of several new indie game releases) interest you?
The answer here is clear and this makes me happy as I really was hoping for it. Indie games are very important to me, especially as I find the AAA industry is putting out fewer and fewer titles that interest me. That you all largely want to see them too is great.
Question 2: Is Indie Showcase something you prefer to see live or is just on YouTube sufficient?
This one actually surprised me a bit but in a positive way. The majority opinion is that I should continue to do the show but not live. I see this is a positive because honestly, doing live impressions of several games in a row is exhausting and I find that the games at the end of a long Indie Showcase session end up getting worse commentary. Doing it on YouTube allows me to better pace myself and give each game the quality of coverage it deserves.
Would you all want me to continue the segments the way I do (maximum of one hour per game with my face cam) or should I change that formula up too? Leave a comment and let me know!
Question 3: Do streams of retro titles interest you?
I’m glad the majority voted yes, though I was hoping for a stronger yes. This is something I plan to do regardless and I am thinking of a cool way to involve you all in the process of choosing what I play. More details soon!
Question 4: Do you care if I’m regularly streaming new major releases?
This one honestly makes me really happy. Many people will say playing what’s in the zeitgeist is a sure way to get more viewers but in my experience, that’s just not true. I’m glad that you all don’t think it’s important for me to be playing what’s new all the time. That’s not to say I won’t be playing new releases when I have strong interest in them (I’ve already booked three days off work for the release of Cyberpunk 2077) but I’m glad it won’t impact whether most of you watch.
Question 5: If I start playing a game on stream, should I finish it on stream?
This one I’ve struggled with personally for some time. I have a weird compulsion to finish what I start (hence why I finish almost every game I play) and that often extends into my streams. I’ve put off finishing games I really liked for months because I couldn’t find time to squeeze them into my streaming schedule but felt I was letting people down if they didn’t get to see the whole thing. Spider-Man was a perfect example of this.
While the majority of you don’t appear to care whether I finish a game on stream or not, almost a third of you do. It’s going to be tricky to find a balance there but maybe it will come naturally. I probably should have attached a conditional question for people who clicked Yes that asked if they just wanted to make sure they saw the ending on stream or the entire game. Feel free to drop a comment and let me know your preference.
Question 6: Do I spend too much time talking over the games I’m streaming?
Well, the answer here is pretty definitive. I’m acutely aware of how verbose I tend to be. It’s a symptom of both my ADHD and my anxiety. While it’s something I’m working on, at the same time, talking is a big part of a streamer’s job so finding a balance is key. I still need to learn to shut up during cutscenes but I’m glad most of you enjoy my verbosity.
Question 7: Is my voice too loud or “booming” for your taste?
Speaking of definitive. In addition to being verbose, I have a voice that carries. I watch a lot of streamers who are more soft spoken and often feel that I come across as too overbearing in the nature of how I speak on stream, even though I use VoiceMeeter to apply compression. I still think I can better refine my speaking style but this answer makes me feel a lot less self-conscious about my cadence.
Question 8: Is my current schedule (Tues./Thurs. @ 7:30pm ET, Sat. @ 1pm ET) a good fit for you?
Oh myyyyyyy. This one’s really tough. I would love to be able to stream more during the day. I know a lot of my viewers are from Europe and that makes it hard to watch on my normal schedule, plus the few times I’ve streamed during the day have just been a boon to viewership in general. However, the schedule requirements of a full-time day job don’t allow me much flexibility on that. At one point, there was talk about instituing shifts at my work and I was going to volunteer for a later shift at least a couple of days a week to try this out but that idea seems to have fizzled.
Once again, I should have put a conditional question on this, asking those who chose No what their preferences were. Leave a comment and let me know if you’d like.
Question 9: Would a show of casual interviews with game developers and other industry types interest you?
Many of you probably don’t know but I once had a short-lived series on YouTube called Behind the Games, where I had casual conversations with indie game developers about their games but more about their journey to and through game development. It shared similarities to theSHED’s POWER HOUR but was more focused on the developers themselves.
I’ve always wanted to bring this show back but in a live format where the audience could also participate in the conversation. That interests almost two thirds of you and that’s awesome! I have no idea when this will happen and honestly, it’s probably a ways off but I’m excited to plan it more, now that I know you folks are into it.
Optional Question 1: Are there games or genres I’m not streaming that you’d like to see me stream?
Of those who answered this question and not with jokes or just a simple “No”, the responses were a mixed bag. Here are the specific games that people said I either should play or that they’ve liked seeing me play:
- God of War
- War Thunder
- Rocket League
- Realm Royale
- South Park: The Stick of Truth
- Cube World
Quite an eclectic mix there. I’ll be honest, while I enjoy Rocket League and think Paladins and Realm Royale are alright, I don’t know how much I’ll be streaming them because lots of other people already do and most people who tune into those streams want to see people play them at a high level, which I most certainly don’t. The occasional night of Rocket League with my community does interest me though so we could make that happen.
As for the single player stuff, I adore cool, solo games with good stories and worlds. People really dug God of War and I do intend to play more stuff like that, including doing my “death to humanity run” in Detroit: Become Human, as well as playing through Last of Us again before the sequel comes out early next year. I’ve already beaten South Park: The Stick of Truth but do have its sequel The Fractured But Whole on my backlog so we could certainly do that at some point too. Sorry to say but survival games like Rust just don’t interest me and I’m staying away from the newly reincarted Cube World until that dev fixes it.
Another respondant also wrote that they wished I was playing games with my friends more (I know who this person is but won’t be calling them out.) The plan this past month was to make doing exactly that a bigger part of my content but then my new PC nightmares happened, plus I had a number of other impediments to my plans. I promise that I haven’t forgotten about that and while this month is going to be focused a lot on getting my Extra Life stretch goals from last year done (more on that separately), that plan is going into full force after that. Mudda Russia will return!
Optional Question 2: Any additional feedback (good or bad) you have about my streams, content, presentation, schedule or anything else (brutal honesty is encouraged.)
An even more eclectic mix of responses came to this question, which is great! There were a few that were variants of “you’re doing great” and I just want to thank those of you for the compliments.
As for the critical comments, I’ll give a general phrasing of them and my thoughts:
Stream with viewers or friends more often – I couldn’t agree more and after Extra Life this year, I’ll be making a point of that.
Don’t keep repeating explanations of the game I’m playing every time someone asks – This is a good point. If you’ve been watching for a whole stream, I totally get how this can be annoying. I’m going to try to limit myself to just saying the game and I can answer more questions from there if asked.
Bring even more random variety into the mix, like the first game I ever bought on Steam or some random free-to-play MMO no one’s heard of – These are cool ideas. The catch-22 of course is that if one is trying to improve their viewership, picking a random free-to-play MMO probably isn’t going to get many people’s attention. That said, streaming is always more about the streamer than the game so maybe it doesn’t matter much? Certainly couldn’t hurt to try once in a while. I will say that my plans for tackling my backlog and retro titles will involve the community a lot more.
You’re too focused on growth/trying to make it big – I want to address this point because I can see why this is the perception. I am not trying to “make it big”, at least not in the sense this respondant may think. I don’t want to turn streaming into a job and don’t plan to abandon my successful IT career for it. I would like to attain partnership with Mixer but mostly for the access opportunities it brings and to be able to do more good. I’ve stated publicly several times that if and when I am able to make money on my content, anything I make will either get reinvested in said content or donated to charity. For that latter reason in particular, I am very driven to get myself to the point where I can do that.
Those who have known me for a while know that my personality is extremely goal oriented and that if I choose to get into something, I never do it half-assed. That’s just who I am and honestly, having goals is not a bad thing. I’m only able to stream two to three times a week right now and most of the days I’m not are spent doing other unrelated things that I’d have to do regardless or just chilling out to destress. Unfortunately, my current job is extremely demanding, plus I have my side business, a home I’m maintaining by myself (which is way more work than I thought), two pets, a new relationship and I’m trying to spend more time with my friends, which I already don’t do enough. Streaming is and will always be a hobby but it’s a hobby that’s important to me because of many benefits it brings outside of that, some of which are why I have the good job I have now.
A solution to this may be found in either changing or reducing my streaming schedule. I’m not sure right now but it’s something I’m thinking a lot about. I understand that you can’t please everyone and unfortunately, with this focus comes the potential alienation of some. I don’t take pleasure in the thought but I think my actions show that I do try to do a lot of things to benefit others and focusing on one’s own goals sometimes isn’t a negative either.
You’re too angry when you’re not streaming – This is honestly a source of frustration for me (ironic I know) because disregarding the number of frankly toxic personalities I see doing very well for themselves in this ecosystem, I just don’t agree that this is the reality. One respondant cited my recent saga with MSI and how much I tweeted about it. Another said I am driving friends away with my “insistence on being right on Twitter.” I don’t have an insistence on being right but I also don’t state an opinion without researching it first and won’t concede a point until someone makes a compelling argument. I can be convinced and sometimes am but it doesn’t happen often because I go into a debate prepared. I mean Hell, look at the name of the blog you’re reading.
I put in a lot of time, effort and often money trying to be a good person and helping out those around me in need. People did that for me in the past when I needed it and now that I’m a man of means, I think I should do the same. I don’t do it to be showered with praise but it would be nice if people could also remember the good I do instead of just point at the times I’m angry (or rather appear it) and criticize those. Sure, I am brash about issues like MSI’s customer service or the Epic Games Store but aside from having good reasons for those, I’ve also provided a ton of pro bono tech help to other streamers and was the #1 Extra Life player for my local hospital last year. The occasional call out for those things would be nice too.
As is so often the case, Twitter is generally at the heart of this. I’ve long professed that Twitter is a cesspool that it’s management encourages to be that way and that I wouldn’t use it if I didn’t have to. It’s dated limitations disallow nuance, people can–and often willingly do–misinterpret what you say or how severely you meant it, context is easily distorted, mob mentality is encouraged and it’s a terrible place for discussion or debate. The problem is, you can’t be a content creator and not use it. You network with it, developers and PR use it to gauge your reach and your audience uses it to see when you’re live or have put up something new. You also can’t just use it for the latter because your account has to be active and you have to be engaging with people for it to be considered useful. A few creators are able to avoid this without setback, 95% of us are not.
Contray to what one other respondant claimed, I don’t act or play a part with my content (well, other than Bad Russian which people love.) I’m not a fan of that style. What you see of me online is what I am like in real life for the most part. Until recently, this has extended to Twitter as well but clearly, my personality isn’t compatible with it’s limitations as a platform. So, I’m going to cut back what I post there, if not in volume, then definitely in subject matter. I’ll be keeping my more contentious opinions and experiences to here and more often, to my podcast, which people can listen to or avoid as they desire.
This shouldn’t be the way of things but it is so I can either adapt or get held back by it. I choose the former and continue to hope that one day, Twitter will just fail as a company and humanity will be better off for it. Facebook first though. 😉
This post took a lot longer to write than I planned but I’m glad I had a chance to break down the responses. I’ve taken a lot of valuable lessons from this that will help me going forward and I want to once again thank all of you who took the time to fill out the survey and also write some constructive comments. You all are the reason I make this stuff and your feedback can only help going forward.
If you are one of those who wrote a comment to me and would like to discuss it further, feel free to hit me up on Discord. Even if your feedback was strongly worded, I won’t bite your head off and would enjoy an opportunity to hash things out more. Maybe we can each learn something. If you just have some feedback based on what you’ve read here, hit me up there too or better yet, leave a comment. I might do a shorter follow-up survey with some additional questions about scheduling and such but we’ll see.
Whether your feedback was positive or negative, I thank all of you who watch my stuff from the bottom of my heart. My audience is small and I’d like to change that but those of you that are here are passionate and loyal and warms my heart to know I’m able to bring some joy to your lives. I’m very glad I did this survey and hopefully, positive change will come from it.
Stay tuned, the best is yet to come!