Please Stop Using Episode Numbers on Your Gaming Content

Episode 1... episode 2... episode 3... Does this titling method help you get more views as a gaming channel? In our experience, the answer is no. Here's a better way to present your content on YouTube.

Did you know that for gaming channels on YouTube, making episodic content is the quickest way to lose viewers?

They either get burnt out as the series progresses or become discouraged after reading a video title with a high episode number - something along the lines of, “Minecraft Modded Survival Ep. 53.”

Viewer burnout happens on YouTube no matter what you’re posting, so that’s not the biggest problem with episodic content. The real challenge is understanding how a viewer reacts to numbered episode titles.

For example, after reading a hypothetical title like “Minecraft Modded Survival Ep. 53,” how do you think the viewer will react? Will they attempt to watch the previous 52 episodes or click on a different video with immediate, up-front value?

Most likely, it’ll be the latter. That’s why we always advise gaming channels to stop putting episode numbers on every YouTube video. It doesn’t generate the success creators are looking for, so it’s time to find a different strategy.

How Episode Numbers Impact Video Performance on YouTube

Dan, our resident gaming expert, has personal experience with using episode numbers on YouTube. Years ago, he used them in most of his video titles, especially while playing games like Minecraft.

The idea was to create a series of content reflecting specific tasks or missions in the game. Over time, Dan created multiple series on YouTube spanning dozens of episodes.

Fortunately, the first episode in a series usually performed well. The video got a decent number of views, so logically, it made sense to continue the series using numbered titles. But as time passed, the opposite effect took place. Every subsequent episode seemed to earn fewer views than the last.

Dan recently explained why this happened, and every gaming creator should heed his warning. Watch his insightful video explanation below:

YouTube’s search function, which is amazingly intuitive for viewers, is one reason episode numbers aren’t the best strategy for video titles. When a viewer types a phrase into YouTube’s search bar, the platform tries to auto-complete the request. For gaming searches, the term “Ep. 1” appears more often than any number, which means viewers are encouraged to watch the first episode of a gaming series en masse.

Therefore, 20 episodes into a series, Dan realized that viewers watching from episode one got burnt out - even if episode one got thousands of views.

He didn’t blame the episode numbers themselves for decreasing his views. In Dan’s opinion, it was his mindset as a new creator that trapped him in an unsuccessful strategy. Instead of focusing on episode titles, he needed to create unique, valuable content.

YouTube’s algorithm wants to recommend your videos to like-minded viewers. But if people keep skipping over your content (due to episodic burn out or any other reason), YouTube will recognize that and give the opportunity to another creator.

To make sure that never happens, provide a clear value proposition in each video. Make sure new viewers not only feel welcome but understand what happened in previous videos on your channel.

The Best Way to Present Episodic Content on YouTube

Even if episode numbers don’t create the best titles, they do serve a purpose. At the very least, they exist to help fans of your ongoing series understand which part of the show they're about to watch.

But if episode numbers have both helpful and harmful qualities, how should you use them (or not) on YouTube?

When you don’t know what to do, use these tips to make the right decision:

  • Instead of using episode numbers in your titles, create a playlist for each gaming series on your channel. That’s an easy way to segment a lengthy show on YouTube.
  • If you absolutely have to use episode numbers, stick them at the end of your titles. That way, the relevant information and keywords appear first.
  • No matter what, don’t put episode numbers in your thumbnails. This preview image is the first thing viewers see, and spotting “Ep. 87” in the corner of the graphic won’t encourage them to watch. Unfortunately, no one wants to start a show in the middle of its season.

Additionally, understand that for each video, some viewers are meeting you and your channel for the first time. So even if they’ve landed on episode 23 of a gaming series, reassure them that the video is about one specific thing they need to know.

Need an example of what that sounds like? This quick video introduction should do the trick:

What's up, guys? I'm [creator name], and welcome back to our Minecraft let's play. So in the last episode, we set up this map, and now that we know where we are, today we are going to trade with the villagers. If you missed the map video, by the way, don't forget to check that out in the link in the description below.

How you present your content on YouTube is important. But the first step is to make videos anyone can watch at any time, with thumbnails and titles reflecting that intent.

Do these two high-value tasks, and without a doubt, you’ll attract more views and subscribers to your gaming channel.