A while back, I told you how I helped a friend set up a YouTube gaming channel.
I’m happy to say that their PS4 YouTube gaming channel is well on its way to getting over 4,000 watch hours and its first 1,000 subscribers.
With their YouTube channel growing, my friend came back to me with a question.
They wanted to know how long their YouTube gaming videos should be.
I wasn’t sure what answer to give them. So, I told them we should Google it together, then discuss our findings.
I quickly grabbed my laptop to begin the search, and this is what we discovered.
How long should gaming videos be? According to research, the average gaming video is about 25 minutes. However, you decide how short or long your YouTube gaming videos should be by listening to your audience. Factors you can use to determine the length of your videos include how long you can keep a video interesting, type of video content, monetization strategy, your audience preferences and what your YouTube analytics tell you.
In the following sections, I’ll dive deep into factors that determine your YouTube gaming videos length.
Let’s get on with it.
Does the length of your YouTube gaming videos matter?
Yes, it does because there are different types of audiences and the length of your videos decides which audience you reach.
If a viewer intends to get a quick answer about a particular game, they’re likely to prefer shorter videos they can quickly watch and move on.
If they intend to get detailed information about a game, this type of viewer wouldn’t mind watching several long videos.
So, knowing which viewer your gaming channel is targeting will help you better plan the length of videos so you can appease your audience.
Does YouTube have a preferred length for gaming videos?
YouTube videos are getting longer, and as an outsider, you might think YouTube prefers longer videos, but that is not the case.
YouTube leaves it to you to decide how long your gaming videos are, and most video creators are making longer videos because they want to make more money.
You can insert more ads in longer videos and earn more.
But before you bolt from the gate and start churning out 5 hours vids, hold your horse!
Posting long videos hoping to make more money from them won’t work if the content is junk.
YouTube uses an algorithm to ensure the videos you make are informative or entertaining to an audience.
If a video adds value to a viewer, you’ll be rewarded with a better ranking, which will get your video seen by a lot more people, and likely increase your revenue.
The YouTube algorithm also seems to favor videos that keep people longer on the site.
YouTube’s Vice President of Engineering, Cristos Goodrow, had this to say about the perfect length for a YouTube video, “The YouTube algorithm uses hundreds of signals to determine how to rank a video. Certainly, the average view duration of a video and the average percent viewed are some of them. What you don’t want to do, though, is padding the length of your videos, just for the sake of making them longer. We have seen creators try this, and it often hurts–not helps–the performance of their videos. After all, if the quality of your videos declines and viewers start clicking away early, that is not a positive signal.”
The YouTube algorithm tends to favor videos that keep the viewer’s attention for a larger percentage of a video’s overall length.
For example, if a video is 3 minutes long and, on average, it’s watched for 2 minutes 45 seconds, that means that the average viewed percentage is 91.66%. That’s really high. This indicates a high-quality video that keeps the viewer’s attention.
Now here’s another example, take a video that is 50 minutes long but the average number of minutes viewed is 10 minutes. That means the percentage viewed, on average, is just 20%. Yes, more minutes were watched than the previous video, but people dropped off after watching less than a quarter of the video. This indicates a low-quality video that trails off after the first ten minutes. Enough to make people leave the video.
Even though people watched the second video longer, it’s not keeping people fully engaged for the full length of the video like the first video.
YouTube compares these view statistics with other videos that it thinks are like yours and ranks them roughly in order of the most watched percentage. There are other factors taken into account such as the comments, and likes. But generally, the average percentage of a video is watched is the biggest factor.
Why does this matter?
It matters because the length of your video has no effect on the success of your video. What matters is if they are high-quality and keep their intended audience watching for as long as possible.
Note if your YouTube account is not verified, it will limit how long your gaming videos are.
With a non-verified YouTube account, you can only upload gaming videos up to 15 minutes long.
For a verified YouTube account, the maximum video length is 12 hours.
How to determine the length of your YouTube gaming videos
As I said at the start, the average gaming videos are 24.7 minutes long.
This is 13 minutes longer than the average YouTube video length, which stands at 11.7 minutes.
Entertainment YouTube channels, on average, have videos 12.9 minutes long while blog videos are 8.4 minutes.
Music content with videos on average 6.8 minutes long has the shortest YouTube content.
YouTube experts say the ideal YouTube video length is at least 8 minutes.
If I was to recommend your YouTube gaming videos length, I would say 10 minutes for a short video, 20 minutes for a normal video, and 30 plus minutes for a long game video.
So how do you decide how long your YouTube gaming video should be?
Quality over quantity
Don’t make gaming videos long just for the sake of it. Deliver your message, in your style in as few minutes as possible and no more. Remember time is precious. So be respectful of your viewers’ time and don’t waste it.
If you decide to do long gaming videos, they should have no fluff and be filmed creatively so they can keep the target audience watching.
Simply put, your video should be as long as it needs to be to cover the subject you’re talking about.
Cristos Goodrow gives good advice that should guide the length of your YouTube gaming videos, “If it takes two minutes to communicate what you want to say, make a two-minute video. If it takes 20 minutes, make it 20 minutes. If viewers really enjoy watching it, YouTube’s Search and Discovery systems should do their jobs surfacing it to others.”
You may have started your YouTube gaming channel to show off your gaming skills, but as your audience grows, you can earn from it.
To earn from your channel, you have to have over 4,000 public watch hours and at least 1,000 subscribers to join the YouTube Partner Program, which pays you for ads placed on your videos.
Videos of any length can have ads placed on them, but for the best returns, your videos should be at least 8 minutes long.
YouTube only allows videos 8 minutes and above to display mid-roll ads.
Shorter videos only have ads at the start and the end.
One YouTuber found that with longer videos, they can more than double their income.
“I could throw in an ad every 30 seconds, but no one is going to watch that. That’s ridiculous. So I started adding two ads to the middle of my videos, and it’s insane.” I ended up making over $6,000 in June, which is more than the $1,800 I made in January from shorter videos,” they said.
You can make videos slightly longer by asking the following questions when making every video: What, when, where, why, and how. For example, say you are running a video on the shortages of PlayStation 5s, you could say:
- What is the problem?
- When did it start?
- Where did the shortage originate?
- Why did the shortage occur?
- How will the shortage end?
The above simple method is a great way to lengthen your video in order to include more ads.
Also, once you have addressed the viewer’s initial question, try to anticipate what they would naturally ask next, then either answer it in the video or link to a different video that does.
You can also add small topics together to make one longer video.
Look at comments on your videos
The comments on your YouTube videos can guide you on what length of gaming videos to make.
I know a gamer who, when they started their YouTube gaming channel, used to make short videos.
Their audience demanded more, and they decided to be doing 20 to 30-minute videos.
So, if your audience asks for longer content, give it to them but ensure you’re able to give them that content while still holding their attention.
Many big YouTube gamers like PewDiePie and Ninja regularly do long videos which receive thousands of views.
Type of content
Different types of content will have varying video lengths.
For example, if you’re doing playthroughs, a video of 20 plus minutes would be okay.
If you’re doing a game review or in-depth review of a weapon in Call of Duty, 8 to 15 minutes would be adequate time.
Look at popular YouTube gaming channels
Looking at other gaming channels that release content similar to yours can give you an idea of how long or short your YouTube videos should be.
From the info you gather, you can do an average of the video length and aim for that time in your content.
But don’t let video length stifle your creativity.
If you have to do long videos to concisely cover a topic, do that.
Your audience will appreciate the effort you put in to give them as much information on your gaming channel.
Look at your YouTube Analytics
Lastly, but probably most importantly, be sure to look at your video’s analytics.
You should regularly look at your YouTube analytics to see how people engage with your videos.
If you look in YouTube Studio, click on the left side on analytics, you’ll be taken to the analytics home page.
On this page, if you scroll down, YouTube is telling you what the most important ranking statistic of all is: The average view duration percentage.
They put it front and center.
You can take a look at one of my YouTube channels below (yes, I’m a facts nerd).
Now, you may notice that a number of videos are hovering around the 20% mark. And one is hovering around the 30% mark. To me, this indicates that my videos are too long to hold my target audience’s attention.
So I should focus on decreasing the length of videos.
You should aim to do the same.
First, create lots of different videos of varying lengths, post them, then see how long people watch them.
Just keep in mind, whatever you do, quality usually always trumps volume.
That doesn’t mean your videos need Hollywood-level production values. It just means that your videos have to deliver what the viewer expected when they clicked on the thumbnail in the YouTube search results.
If you click on a thumbnail that says it will answer your question, “how to set up a PS5” then halfway through it starts trying to sell you PS5 faceplates, of course, you will click away as it has no relevance to your question.
If your videos do deliver on what the viewer was expecting, and they do it in a fun, entertaining, or educationally interesting way, your videos will be watched a lot, and they will rise up the ranking to get you more views.