A gray area between Enjoy the Story, Skip the Game and Play the Game, Skip the Story, where people enjoy the aspects of a game, but not because they experienced it themselves. Rather, they enjoy seeing other people experience it. Just something about this game in particular makes watching others experience it more fun than actually playing it yourself. Maybe it's a horror or rage game that results in hilarious reactions from the player's terror or frustration, but it's only funny if you're not the person playing yourself. Or maybe it's a game known for being challenging and seeing someone's determination as they overcome the challenges (and maybe get a little frustrated along the way) is very entertaining, but the difficulty is too intimidating to want to try it yourself. Alternatively, the game is an Obvious Beta and not worth your time, but seeing someone make fun of the game's issues is worthwhile.
A last reason may be another, simpler one: money. Some people have no way to legally play the game, thus, they enjoy seeing someone else share their experiences with an open public. This is especially true for story-driven games.
Note: Please don't list every example of a game where people avoid playing it in favor of watching a video of it online, or we'd be here all day. There needs to be a discussion about people enjoying watching the game over playing it for the reactions and/or struggles of the players more than just not wanting to play it themselves. Entries that are just "watch all of the story paths online so you don't have to play the game yourself" with no regard to watching the person playing the game belong under Enjoy the Story, Skip the Game. Also, while it is necessary to discuss why people might prefer not to want to play the game themselves, please refrain from using this trope as a way to bash said game.
- Among Us is usually best enjoyed with a full lobby of 10-15, all on the same voice chat, to make for entertaining dialogues and arguments. This is why it's fun to see a group of YouTubers, especially ones with established dynamics, play it out, especially if you can spectate a game from different players' perspectives. Hilarity and drama ensues when betrayal becomes inevitable.
- Armed & Delirious has nonsensical writing and bizarre-looking late-90s pre-rendered 3D graphics that can be fascinating to see. However, the weird and obtuse puzzles, items that require a Pixel Hunt to find, and backtracking across worlds spread throughout multiple CDs mean that it's better to watch a playthrough video from someone who has access to a walkthrough and cut out most of the backtracking rather than try and endure the game's flaws yourself. Plus, seeing someone else react to and try to explain what's going on is often worth a laugh.
- Baldi's Basics in Education and Learning: The jump scares, bizarre characters, and surreal and intentionally schlocky nature of the game make videos of players reacting to the latest weird character or mechanic added to the game as they try to avoid their ill-tempered school teacher widely popular.
- Cyberpunk 2077 had a disastrous launch due to numerous glitches and unpolished game mechanics, particularly on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. As such, many people who either did not purchase or pre-order the game at launch or found it unplayable on whatever hardware they owned preferred to watch others play it, whether out of genuine interest in the story, setting or gameplay, or to see what jaw-droppingly awful glitches or development oversights would crop up for the streamer/let's player.
- The Danganronpa games are prevalent for Let's Plays; in fact, the series gained a western fanbase (and eventual English release) because of a Let's Play on the Something Awful forums. This owes to the series' unique blend of Dating Sim and murder mystery, so it's fun to watch players solve the cases... and even more fun to watch players' inevitable despair when a character they get attached to dies or is a case's culprit (resulting in a Cruel and Unusual Death "execution").
- David Cage games (Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls, Detroit: Become Human) are popular for Let's Play and streaming audiences for several reasons. The games usually offer branching story paths based on player choices, which can be attractive to people who want to see what choices another player will make on a blind run. In addition, the games' Quick-Time Events set pieces and cinematic storytelling make them visually appealing to watch. And last but not least, the games are often considered to have very noticeable flaws in gameplay, storytelling, character animation, voice-acting, and other issues. This makes them fun to mock, especially for people who would never play said games themselves.
- Doki Doki Literature Club! is most popular for its Disguised Horror Story plot twist, but most people who know anything about the game know about the twist, taking some of the impact away (though the psychological horror element still remains and there are many horrifying scenes that have not been as spoiled). Most fun comes from asking Let's Players or friends unfamiliar with the game to play it under the assumption it's just a silly dating sim, and then waiting for them to reach the infamous Wham Shot and freak out.
- Dwarf Fortress is one of the most (if not THE most) complex video games in existence and thus has an extremely steep learning curve. But at the same time, its simulation depth and unmatched Video Game Cruelty Potential often generate the most badass and/or ridiculous video game stories you've ever heard. Because of this, watching Let's Plays and reading forum posts about this game is way more entertaining than actually going through the trouble of learning how to play it yourself.
- The Fighting Game genre has a deep history of this. The genre is considered very hard to get into due to the steep learning curve each game has, understanding whatever meta exists, and having to learn each game's own unique mechanics, with very little being able to be transferred over to a new game or even the next title in a series. Watching, though, is one of the most popular parts of the genre period, since you don't need to know how the game works to enjoy watching the fight, and tournaments are often among the most watched events in the gaming sphere due to being able to watch players who did go through the trouble of learning the aforementioned stuff compete head to head.
- Five Nights at Freddy's is known for being terrifying, creating a great sense of paranoia and the punishment for failures is a good ol' Jump Scare. For people who don't like being scared, this is rather off-putting and there are plenty who never gathered the courage to play it, but the terrified responses of LPers make them watch videos of the series anyway. Honest Trailers put it best.
"The horror game sensation that no one enjoys playing, but everyone loves watching others play."
- Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy is a game designed to frustrate the player, featuring no checkpoints and even a minor slip-up can send the player back to the start of the game. All sorts of highlight videos of LPers and streamers exist on YouTube showcasing the rage players go through for our entertainment.
- Henry Stickmin Series is another extremely popular game to watch as a Let's Play series due to the sheer amount of ways to die/fail and the mountains of references that are present. Another is reacting to the diverse of characters with the two most popular being Ellie Rose and Charles Calvin. This series is also fun for the sheer amount of clever fourth-ball breaks that can catch LPers off guard as well.
- iRacing bills itself as "the most realistic racing simulation game in the world", and the high barriers to entry (specially-made wheel and pedal controllers are a necessity to be any good at the game, and each track and vehicle is sold separately) drive many away from playing. However, the fact that it is such a detailed replication of real-world car racing makes it just as fun to watch for many fans. Many racing leagues, like NASCAR and IndyCar, used it to replace live race broadcasts during the COVID19 pandemic.
- While both La-Mulana and La-Mulana 2 are relatively fair games, with signposted deathtraps and challenging-but-not-impossible bosses, many of their puzzles are deeply obtuse and founded in unfamiliar mythology. Since these puzzles are not optional and make up the majority of the game's story, a playthrough with someone talking you through all the mental gymnastics can end up being a better experience.
- The Last of Us Part II: After the controversy regarding story leaks, many potential players decided to wait it out and see the game from Let's Players videos instead of spending their money on the game. Both those who didn't follow the leaks and those that do watch others play it, mainly wanting to see how others would react to it, especially the infamous scene where Joel gets murdered.
- League of Legends: Having to deal with unskilled players, Griefers, AFKs, and unbalanced champions often leads to extreme frustration, so many players agree that simply watching someone else play the game can be a much more pleasant experience.
- Minecraft has nearly infinite creative potential, but even on Peaceful difficulty or Creative Mode, building anything more complex than a basic house can be a daunting task, not to mention that the game likes to throw survival horror elements that can easily ruin one's day, such as surrounding the player with zombies and spiders in the middle of cave mining operations and Creepers abruptly not only killing the player but also destroying half of their beautiful house. As a result, many people instead prefer to watch their favorite streamers and LPers play the game and make and show off their projects. Minecraft also has an active PvP community across multiple servers; often, fans find it more fun to watch popular and skilled LPers duke it out with each other (which can easily reach Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny levels of epic depending on who the participants are) rather than actually participate in these games.
- At the height of their popularity, Outlast and Amnesia: The Dark Descent were all the rage among Let's Play. The two were considered some of the scariest games ever made, which prompted multiple people to be too scared to play them but love to watch people getting scared by them.
- Pathologic is almost as infamous for its absurd difficulty curve and punishing mechanics as it is for its narrative complexity, meaning that a lot of players are scared off early on. According to Steam achievements, around fifteen per cent of players make it past the first day, in a game that takes place over eleven days. For three characters. As a result, most fans of the game either experienced it through a Let's Play or one of the many video essays that help better explain the game's obtuse survival mechanics and difficult-to-follow story. A notable case is Hbomberguy's video on the game, where he highlights the artistically interesting aspects of how punishing it is while discouraging you from playing it yourself because you'd have to sit through a lot of tedium and frustration.
- The Persona games, especially 3, 4, and 5, are very popular Let's Play games in the JRPG genre, due to all of them being very long and very story-driven. It would be very easy to say that many fans of the games never actually played the games themselves and simply watched a Let's Play of it. The main reason people prefer to watch Persona games rather than play them is because of their "Life Sim" segments, where the player has to choose what daily activity the main character will do. People watch other people play it because they either don't have time to do it themselves, or they want to see how the choices/time management of the content creator play out. Although over time, Atlus' strict streaming clause to their games makes this harder to do...
- To a lesser extent, the various spin-offs that have surfaced since Persona became a Cash-Cow Franchise for Atlus also count. This can be chalked up to most of these titles being canonical continuations of the instalment they spun off from (thus retaining a focus on narrative and characterization) while also switching to completely different genres of gameplay—ones that someone who primarily plays JRPGs might not be willing to invest their time in learning the mechanics of. (For example, Persona 4: Arena and its sequel are Fighting Games, Persona 4: Dancing All Night is a Rhythm Game, and Persona 5 Strikers is a Hack and Slasher with Action RPG elements. The Persona Q games go halfway, as they're Dungeon Crawlers styled after the Etrian Odyssey series)
- Platform Hell games, such as I Wanna Be the Guy, frequently fall into this category. The average player has close to zero chance of successfully completing the game, and it quickly becomes tedious trying and making next to no progress. Watching an expert's LP thus offers two benefits: you actually get to see past the first few screens, and you get amusing Angrish over the soundtrack.
- P.T.: Considered one of the scariest games ever made, but now also almost impossible to get your hands on, since it was removed from all stores by its developer shortly after release. It's now only available on PS4s that had installed the game previously, making this a game that people mostly experience through LPs.
- Road 96 is a story-driven Road Trip Plot with randomly chosen chapters, and a large number of plot twists and events that can result in all kinds of things happening. Livestreamers and YouTubers all make different choices when playing the game, and there's no telling what choices they'll make and how they'll react to what they encounter, making this game that can be a lot of fun to watch others play once you've experienced it yourself.
- Rule of Rose is generally considered to have a great story but terrible gameplay. Also, it was banned in the UK. For this reason, many people tend to seek out playthroughs on youtube, where they can enjoy the immersive plot but avoid the frustrating controls.
- The Silent Hill games are widely praised by both fans and critics alike for their characters and storytelling, but most agree that the puzzles, the length of the games, and the clunky combat may not jive for everyone, thus people looking to get into the series may opt to watch someone else play it and see their reactions to the events in the stories.
- Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) is a widely disliked game and most aren't willing to play it themselves... but watching someone else glitch the game into oblivion never gets old.
- Common in Souls-like RPGs, especially those from FromSoftware, being the Trope Codifier and Trope Namer. Since these games are notoriously Nintendo Hard and also tend not to have a self-evident story, some people might not be particularly interested in playing them either for the gameplay or for the story. However, they might be interested in watching three different groups of streamers play them:
- Those who aren't particularly good at the game, since you get to watch it while hearing funny Angrish reactions.
- Those who are really good at the game or speedrunners, meaning you get to see the game beaten in cool or elegant ways that most regular players couldn't hope to emulate in these games.
- Those who are actually interested in the lore, meaning that you actually get the story of the game as you watch, from the streamer's commentary.
- Super Mario Maker and Super Mario Maker 2 have a very large community of fans that don't even play the games themselves but love to watch dedicated streamers play the Sturgeon's Law-prone levels that random people have created. For this reason, many content creators attempt Super Expert No-Skip runs so that their viewers can watch them play through the horrors that await. Other sub-communities include Troll Levels (levels designed to make players look like idiots), Puzzle Levels (levels designed to test players' knowledge or problem-solving skills), and Kaizo Levels (Nintendo Hard levels designed for players to show off their reflexes and platforming skills).
- Telltale Games works are more story-driven Adventure Game affairs with different outcomes depending on the choices. So naturally they make for great Let's Play videos, especially if they're based on a popular IP such as The Walking Dead (Telltale), Batman, Fables or Game of Thrones to name a few, just to see the choices of what certain LPers would make.
- Undertale is a game where the choices you make have tangible consequences, and is generally considered a case of Enjoy the Story, Skip the Game, so many watch LPs both to consume the story and to see the choices the player will choose to make and how they react to them.
- WarioWare installment Game & Wario has the minigame "Gamer", which is infamous for its Surprisingly Creepy Moment within the franchise as a whole; players are tasked with dividing their attention being playing microgames on the Wii U Gamepad and keeping tabs on the television so they're not caught playing by 9-Volt's mother, which is presented as something straight out of a horror movie. Let's Players will usually be paired, with one set of eyes watching each screen, with half the fun seeing their reactions to just how crazy 5-Volt gets in her attempts to catch her son gaming.