Visuals matter a lot in gaming. There's a reason why first-person games are set in picturesque spots that instantly lift your mood. Gamers are attracted to pretty visuals, which is why streamers and content creators spend hours adorning their stream huds and setting up their rooms. A personalized thumbnail is then the cherry on top.
If you use YouTube, you probably already know what a thumbnail is. It's one significant feature of YouTube that sets it apart from Twitch, a pure gaming platform. But it's much more than that, at least according to creators.
Thumbnails and content: a love story
We firmly believe thumbnails help gain clicks, but what do the facts say?
Credible data from the best SEO companies claim that Thumbnails significantly impact clicks. Whether your thumbnail is colorful, happy, or sad has a significant influence on views and clicks. According to the data, videos with a thumbnail conveying a sad emotion swayed 2.5 million viewers to watch the video. Happy and bright thumbnails also had a high click rate, but animated and plain thumbnails didn't necessarily boost views.
These stats portray precisely how a gamer's mind works. Your typical gamer will most likely click on a stream with a human face. Meaning the colors you use for the background, facial expression, text, and visuals have much to do with why viewers aren't clicking on your content. Quality content may still get your views without a flashy thumbnail. But by not investing in a thumbnail, you might be missing out on a larger viewer base that wants to watch you.
Take Jimmy "Mr Beast" Donaldson's videos, for example. YouTube's most successful individual, Mr Beast, cashes out his face card ever so often. All his thumbnails include his face at the center with intense emotion. And it's no fluke; Mr. Beast takes his thumbnails really seriously.
The content titan pays $5000 to $10,000 for a few simple thumbnails. According to him, these images are the real difference makers. Now, Mr. Beast's thumbnails are simple but impactful, with his own face carefully placed by visual hierarchy. There has to be a reason why an established YouTuber with high face value still invests heavily in cover images.
"The thumbnail can make the difference between 50 million views or 200 million." Mr Beast explained.
Thumbnails are game-changers across all content industries, from gaming to pop culture. This is because some viewers don't even read the video headline and directly look for thumbnail text. For example, a whole section of YouTube gamers utilizes text-focused thumbnails, attracting millions of viewers. For this reason, content creators often opt for bright, bold text icons to pop on the feed.
It's YouTube gaming's best feature
Thumbnails are a big part of why YouTube gaming can sometimes edge past Twitch. Unlike Twitch, gaming creators have the freedom to establish a personality and convince a user to click on their video. The large images can help consumers decide whether to watch a certain creator. Conversely, Twitch may allow gaming streamers a bigger exposure to niche communities, but creators have no way to rope in fresh eyes with their personalities.
Besides conveying what the video is about and helping viewers save time, thumbnails help creators form a distinct identity, which becomes crucial as your audience grows. For this reason, you'd notice all gaming heavyweights stick to a particular style. Michael "shroud" Grzesiek, for example, has his mascot doing funny things based on the video content. Most gamers would recognize the CSGO-Valorant icon's content from a mile just by his thumbnail.
So, in summary, here are a few reasons why thumbnails have a significant impact on YouTube gaming:
They attract attention: A good thumbnail stands out and catches the eye of potential viewers. It can be the difference between someone scrolling past your video or stopping to watch it.
They convey information: A thumbnail can give viewers a sense of what the video is about. For example, a thumbnail for a Minecraft video might show the player holding a diamond sword or standing in front of a castle.
They set expectations: A thumbnail can give viewers an idea of what to expect from the video. If the thumbnail looks exciting and action-packed, viewers will expect the video to be the same.
They can help with branding: Consistent use of branding elements in thumbnails (such as logos, colors, or font styles) can help viewers recognize your videos and channel.
So, if you're new to content creation, you may want to either learn graphic designing, software like Canva or invest in a good thumbnail artist. Because, trust us, thumbnails are worth every penny if you're looking to make it big in the gaming industry.