Should you Commentate over Let's Play Gameplay for YouTube

To commentate or not to commentate, that is the question. 

It seems like on YouTube many viewers fall into two categories; one viewer watches let’s play videos for the game, while the others watch YouTube videos for the player or commentator. For a YouTube content creator, it can be, keeping with the high school literature, two roads diverged. Today we will be discussing the benefits and disadvantages of both approaches to YouTube let’s play gameplays.  

Let’s Play without Commentary

Many viewers on YouTube do not like commentaries over gameplays, as mentioned in the beginning, these viewers watch YouTube videos for the gameplay. There are probably thousands of forum posts online about YouTube viewers ranting that they are annoyed by every let’s play gameplay video having a commentator. 

An example of this annoyance of YouTube commentators can be seen on the popular forums of GameFaq.com

The only thing that needs commentary is when people are playing games competitively. There the commentary can help you understand what’s going on.
I prefer no commentary because I wanna focus on the game and not someone’s opinions and reactions. Sorta like watching a movie since I won’t be playing the game anyway.
I’m not a fan of voices, they try too hard to be funny and for the most part have very annoying voices, especially thick British accents. 
I actively avoid Let’s Plays because I can’t stand hearing people talking as I’m trying to watch the playthrough.

By going the route of let’s play videos without commentary, you would be serving an underserviced viewer base on YouTube. As shown by some of the comments on the forum post, many viewers want plain high-quality gameplay and even avoid YouTube content with commentary. By not commentating on your let’s play gameplay, your videos would standout more and perhaps attract these types of viewers. 

There are some significant disadvantages of making let’s play videos on YouTube without commentary and those have to do with copyright. As a content creator, you probably know about general Fair Use policy, many YouTubers are protected by Fair Use. When you commentate over a video, you create a unique work, even if it uses trademarked property like a video game. By not commentating over a let’s play gameplay, you are not creating a unique piece of work and are instead simply redistributing content. Usually a game publisher doesn’t mind if let’s players upload gameplay content without commentary, but someone may come along and flag your YouTube content, and it will be easily taken down, because you cannot use the fair use defense.

Let’s Play with Commentary 

With commentary is the classic way to make let’s play YouTube videos. By going this path, you will gain a following based off your personality and less on gameplay. The commentary approach has a lot of benefits, but also some downsides.

Spending some time on YouTube, it’s easy to see that viewers usually watch videos because of who is making them. The big names in the let’s play area like; Cryatoic, TheRadBrad, and TetraNinja, get watched because of their personalities rather than the games they play. These popular let’s players can play any game and still have a large audience. If these individuals went the route of no commentary, they may not have the loyal audience they have now. 

Commentary over gameplay allows a viewer to connect with you, the content creator, more deeply and ensures that they will be an engaged subscriber in the future. Commentating over gameplay will also increase the likelihood of viewers following you on other social media platforms and even moving to platforms away from YouTube, like Twitch. Commentary makes viewers stick with you throughout the internet, and this stickiness allows you a lot of mobility and credibility on the internet. 

YouTube viewers prefer a specific type of commentary, and that is a live commentary. Comments from a GiantBomb.com forum show this too.

For Let’s Plays, you should commentate whilst playing. The fun of Let’s Plays is in the in-the-moment reactions which is lost when commentating over pre-recorded footage.
Run the game live while you do the commentating, it gives the audience that real-time effect. I just did a walk-through and it is just as easy to cut and split your clips once you get the footage you want.

There are two obvious downsides to let’s play commentary. One disadvantage of a commentary is that you will lose those types of views that like just watching gameplay. As mentioned before, many YouTube viewers simply do not like commentary and they will not watch your videos. Another possible disadvantage of a commentary is that people may not like your voice or personality. There really isn’t much to be said about this, some YouTube viewers will like your voice and talking style while other will steer away. 

If you choose the route of no gameplay commentary on your let’s play videos, you should slightly modify your approach. Due to fair use laws, having a no commentary video can put you in a gray area with YouTube guidelines. I recommend you try something like the popular let’s player, Cryaotic. This YouTube let’s player is known for his soft and infrequent commentary over gameplay. By speaking softly and rarely in your videos, you can abide by fair use rules and satisfy those viewers that just like watching gameplay.  

If you go the route of commentating over your let’s play videos, then I suggest you stick with live commentaries. Live commentary over gameplay is well liked on YouTube because of its spontaneous nature. A live commentary for YouTube is difficult to setup, but it seems to be worth it in the end. Also make sure to choose a good mic, we have some suggestion on our review of the best microphones for YouTube. 

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