There’s a pile of video hosting sites online these days. It seems like there’s a new one popping up each week. I’ve tried out most of them and have found at least one or two things that have prevented me from using them. The big ones being; Re-encoding your videos to a lower, much shittier resolution. And, only supporting 4:3 aspect ratio videos – stretching others to fit the video window. I encode my videos in Flash at 700kbps. Which is much higher than you’ll see on any of the video hosting sites. And for the most part, my videos are 16:9 or 16:10 aspect ratio. On most sites, the video will simply be stretched to fit the vertical space, leaving a less than pretty image.
In the past, I’ve have had nothing but good things to say about GameSpot. Being a subscriber of 3 years, I’m pleased to say they’ve rolled out yet another awesome feature and have outdone the competition once again. A quiet beta of User Videos was launched earlier this week for subscribers to test out. At first glance, I was stoked to see that they’re open to just about anything as far as content is concerned. Right in the header of that page it states; “Post your video blogs, speed runs, boss battles, game commercials, how to’s, spoofs, bloopers and other videos the gaming world needs to see.” So, pretty much anything gaming related goes. Awesome!
To help get people started, they’ve posted a How To which covers everything from live action, to PC gaming to console gaming. You can upload files up to 100MB in size in ASF, WMV, MPG, AVI, MOV, 3G2, M2V formats. Videos are re-encoded in Flash, resized to fit the 430×323 window and presented in any easy to use and not-so-ugly embedded player. But again, I must state how awesome it is that they don’t stretch your video if it isn’t the same proportions as their player. They simply fill the space with black.
The pages where you actually watch the videos are setup quite nicely. As you’d expect, there’s comments, tagging, email to friend, mark as favourite (save), recommend or “don’t bother” and other videos from the author all present. There’s also a “Blog It” feature that gives you a chunk of code to embed the video in your GameSpot blog or straight up HTML for your own site as seen here…
Pretty cool how the added the GameSpot watermark when viewed on an external site. None of the interactive features seem to work right now, but I’m sure that’s in the works.
There’s a number of ways to find videos to watch. Each member has a new Videos tab in their profile which is nicely laid out with a three thumbnail image for each video, along with it’s description, meta data and related game info. But perhaps the coolest addition to the site is the User Videos tab on game pages. They’ve really done a good job of integrating user videos into existing sections instead of relying on the User Videos section itself for exposure. I uploaded four videos a couple days ago and two of them are around 100 views already. Not bad at all!
Overall, GameSpot seems to have pulled through in areas where other video hosting sites have failed or chose to ignore. I’m glad I held out and didn’t settle – I was actually considering making 4:3 versions of my videos for those sites that don’t support widescreen format videos. That would have added at least an hour and a half onto what is already a long process.