Don’t be jealous of PewDiePie’s $4m. He’s giving the people what they want

Wednesday, 18 June 2014 12:23 GMT By Dave Cook

PewDiePie is the most lucrative personal gaming channel on YouTube, with a total of around $4m made last year. Naturally, this has earned him a tidal wave of abuse from those who aren’t fans. Here’s why we should all cut the guy some slack and look at why he got so popular to begin with.

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported that popular YouTuber Felix ‘PewDiePie’ Kjellberg made $4 million in ad sales last year.

“YouTubers are now being invited to press events traditionally reserved for members of the written games press in rising numbers. That’s no coincidence.”

That’s a significant number, and the news has been met with both warm congratulations from Kjellberg’s fans, and scorn from those who can’t stand the guy. Others are treating the revelation like some kind of elaborate mystery. They simply don’t get it.

“Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”

Some people find it improbable that Kjellberg, with his admittedly grating voice and daft, frequently puerile comedy could amass such a large internet following and convert that into very real cash. The truth here is that he’s simply giving people what they want.

Those in the upper echelons of the 18-35 key gaming demographic may be instantly turned off by PewDiePie’s output, and that’s because they’re not in his target audience.

A quick look at YouTube’s Trends browser app today revealed that in the US, viewers within the 13-24 age range were flocking to a video called Let’s Play – GTA V – Ray’s Heist. It was in the top three most-watched videos for almost every state in America earlier today, along with another GTA 5 video about Woody Woodpecker.

Kids and 20-somethings in their millions are watching game videos on YouTube. It’s little wonder that channels like PewDiePie (27,819,191 subscribers), and Yogscast’s Lewis & Simon (7,006,096 subscribers) are making so much money. Younger viewers are finding this content funny, informative, useful, memorable and share-worthy.

Those who don’t like that fact are either jealous of the money being made, or the content simply doesn’t speak to them. Another look at the YouTube Trends report for the ages 25-44 shows that those GTA 5 videos are no where to be seen. It’s all World Cup goal footage and some weird rap battle by that Bill Nye guy.

Of course, these YouTube reports are not scientific fact, nor do they concretely prove that older gamers don’t watch game videos on YouTube. But it’s clear that these established and rising stars of Let’s Plays are seen as valuable to both viewers and advertisers alike. They are money-makers.

“If people like PewDiePie are making $4 million doing that then I say fair play to them. They were in the right place at the right time, and recognised the changing tides before the big waves hit.”

You may not know this, but YouTubers are now being invited to press events traditionally reserved for members of the written games press in rising numbers. That’s no coincidence, just like it’s no coincidence that both the PS4 and Xbox One have embedded streaming tools. Twitch has viewer figures that rival national TV stations. We cannot ignore or devalue this just because we have no personal use for the content.

We’ve entered a time where people do want to see shows of skill, recorded tip guides, first-looks and more in video form. If people like PewDiePie are making $4 million doing that then I say fair play to them. They were in the right place at the right time, and recognised the changing tides before the big waves hit.

When they did, they were already in their carefully constructed boats, safely riding the current to a new and lucrative state of videogame media. That’s not something to be jealous of. It’s something we can all learn from.


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  1. JPickford

    Popular = Above criticism.

    #1 8 months ago
  2. Dave Cook

    @JPickford Don’t quite know what you mean by that John. Are you saying he’s above criticism? Because I have said in the piece that I’m not a fan. Does that mean I should overlook the fact that he’s made serious money where ‘traditional’ games media is bleeding it?

    Popular = something we should pay attention to and try to understand

    #2 8 months ago
  3. monkeygourmet

    I am getting far to old before my time… :)

    I need to speak to my Dad regarding how he felt with this kind of shit when he was younger. The media output and explosion coupled with the; ‘well people like it, so whats the beef?’, mentality seems so obnoxious at the moment.

    In an age everyone ‘has access’, it’s depressing to see what so many people are doing with that platform and what generates so much money.

    I just lump this kind of shit into the; X Factor, X has (No) Talent, Public execution etc… pile.

    The modern day ‘freak show’ in all but name.

    #3 8 months ago
  4. Dave Cook

    @monkeygourmet I absolutely agree with you, I don’t watch this guy and find him irritating, but the fact is what he’s doing is working. That bears study.

    #4 8 months ago
  5. mamu-ti

    what is the point that other watch how that affected person play a games and when he play is total cunt.

    #5 8 months ago
  6. polygem

    it shows that there is too much money on the wrong ends. way too much. perverted amounts of money.

    you can´t blame that poodlepie guy though.

    can´t recommend this book enough.

    eye opener.

    if you have the time, listen to the teaser.

    #6 8 months ago
  7. Dave Cook

    @polygem That’s it yeah you actually can’t blame him. He was in the right place at the right time. The sands are shifting within the games media in a big way, they really are.

    #7 8 months ago
  8. monkeygourmet


    It’s easy to understand. It’s ‘pop’ culture taken to the extreme. The industry knows how to market popular trends and many people can capitalise on it.

    There is also much less pressure and critism of ‘selling out’ in recent times. People are happy to take the money and run. You don’t like that attitude? You are labeled a ‘hater’ etc… YOLO mother fuckers!

    People have shorter and shorter attention spans and artists / celebs are more aware they are quick to be replaced. Just look at music etc… It’s a meat grinder IMO.

    Of late, this kind of attitude has crept into gaming IMO. It’s hugely damaging aswell. A culture / movement that lives on the:

    ‘Just deal with it’

    motto, is doomed to crash. You can only have that level of ignorance if you are living off the foundations built by a previous generation, and to piss all over that shows a terrible lack of understanding or care for the future.

    #8 8 months ago
  9. Luciferous

    I personally cannot stand him as a personality.

    But, I can’t argue with the work and effort he puts in.

    I wish I had jumped on the YouTube bandwagon years ago, starting out now is harder than it used to be because of over saturation. That doesn’t mean that it is impossible, though.

    #9 8 months ago
  10. YoungZer0


    Hey, at least we got vsauce.

    #10 8 months ago
  11. Dave Cook

    @monkeygourmet Very well said. All of it.

    #11 8 months ago
  12. Dave Cook

    @Luciferous That’s it yeah you’ve nailed it. He was there at the start and stuck with it. Hindsight in these cases is often difficult to swallow. Like or loathe him, he’s done very well out of it. Others should take note.

    #12 8 months ago
  13. polygem

    yeah monkey, great post, mirrors my thoughts on this exactly…only in better english.

    #13 8 months ago
  14. fengato

    I wonder how sustainable these guys are. I think right place at the right time has a whole lot to do with it. I’m not a fan of the old media model, though watching the derpy sheep gobble this stuff up is somewhat depressing.

    #14 8 months ago
  15. polygem

    @polygem / adds:
    you can also see this regarding promos. people don´t care about it anymore. they say, hey, there´s a mercedes benz kart in mario, great! why are you not liking this, it´s free, that´s awesome…….well, it´s not free, it comes with a huge price actually.

    #15 8 months ago
  16. Dave Cook

    @fengato Why is it depressing It’s not what you or I want, but they clearly do :) Let them roll with it I say. I’ll never subscribe to him, but I have to say well done for making that much cash in troubled times.

    #16 8 months ago
  17. monkeygourmet


    Thats true! :)

    And videos of Jay Z getting battered by Beyonce’s sister :)

    #17 8 months ago
  18. fengato

    @Dave Cook What’s your guess on longevity, Dave? Can they cross over to mainstream media – can they last more than five years? Certainly uncharted waters.

    #18 8 months ago
  19. monkeygourmet



    I can’t speak for Fengato, but the depressing side for me comes when pollution happens. This attitude / business style (if you can call it that), doesn’t just stay in one place. It permiates other industry and conciousness.

    The gaming industry has changed dramatically because of this type of attitude, and not always in a positive way IMO.

    I feel gaming has been hijacked somewhere along the way, it feels like Hip Hop after 50 Cent and co came up. :)

    #19 8 months ago
  20. Dave Cook

    @fengato I would honestly be guessing man. I suppose mainstream removes their autonomy and then you have things like censorship, being beholden to publisher etc. If I were him I’d stay on YouTube, keep a few million in the bank and save it as a est egg.

    #20 8 months ago
  21. Dave Cook

    @monkeygourmet That 50 Cent analogy is simply incredible. Seriously, fuck that guy.

    #21 8 months ago
  22. YoungZer0


    LoL. Yeah. :D I agree with most of what you said btw. It annoys me to no end that people get what they want, instead of what they need. This culture really needs to slow down. The only time I actually watch television is between loading times, other than that, there’s nothing, nothing I care about being shown on television.

    To be honest I’m completely blown away that vsauce is doing as good as they are. I try to comfort myself with knowing that it’s mostly kids that watch his show. I hope they grow out of it. He should at least buy a new mic, with all the yelling he’s doing.

    #22 8 months ago
  23. fengato

    @monkeygourmet Very much how I feel – thanks. The narcissistic shite going down on Twitch is case in point. Being an avid gamer, I should love what Twitch is enabling. Problem is that it’s now so full of derps streaming games that they often care little about, that I’m less willing to see what’s going on. Also feel less like identifying as someone who like video games. That’s a depressing reality.

    #23 8 months ago
  24. Digital Bamboo


    He made how much doing what?

    Oh. *Backs away slowly & shudders at the future of humanity.

    #24 8 months ago
  25. monkeygourmet



    I hate writing stuff like this as I feel it comes across as negative / depressing!

    And, you could call me a hypocrite as I buy all this shit anyway! I believe you can’t be too outside the circle (you cut off your nose to spite your face), but at least know if your being fucked over! ;)

    Living and consuming this type of thing without any understanding is where the real danger lies. And thats why this coming generation is a little different than the last (again, I need to speak to my Dad about this). There seems to be very little ‘filter’ for younger people when consuming media at the moment. The minute something is about to be criticised, it is removed and something else takes it’s place.

    There is not much time to stop and analyse or build opinion.

    Why would you need an opinion when someone else can tell you what you like? :)

    The illusion of choice. And that is something that we have got very good at in recent times. That to me is the real problem.

    You can have Battlefield or COD.

    Mcdonalds or Burger King.


    #25 8 months ago
  26. monkeygourmet


    It happens with so many things and I think it’s magnified if you felt you were there from the beginning.

    I loved early Hip Hop and hated the more cash driven change that happened after 50 and crew came up. But to say there was no good Hip Hop around now, would be plain wrong. If you know where to look, there’s great stuff / artists around.

    Same with gaming, there are still great titles around, and You, I & most people on here know that. You just have to look, and, there’s no shame in having a chesse burger (insert generic triple A title here) once in a while.

    The difficulty is, a lot of younger gamers simple don’t know where to look. They get funneled through Ad’s and in App purchases and pop ups so easily, it’s like having your blinkers on.

    My good friend has kids, and from a gaming perspective he’s started his son off with the Neo Geo / SNES / Megadrive, even though kids similar to his age are playing Assassins Creed / COD. I think this is great as it educates and brings appriciation for gaming in general. It’s also quite funny as it makes you realise how basic new games can be, despite ‘teh graffix!’

    Not many have access to that though, but even removing gaming from that, the example can cover parenting in general, basically:

    Don’t let Apple’s App store / Youtube babysit your children FFS!!! :)

    btw, sorry for using the COD reference in comparison to McDonalds! ;)

    #26 8 months ago
  27. ManuOtaku

    Great read, for the article and the commenters as well, great debate guys, thats what i do like to see on this site, more often, healthy discussion.

    Having said that, i do not have any experience with this topic, i have never use you tube before, i am old school, 39 yo hear. But reading this comments i think it goes with the consume ideals going to extreme, and this is not a good thing for society. We want it now, do not mind if i need it or if i can wait for better quality. Intetesting times, when we will be arriving to the not enough resources bottleneck, and how this society will react to that, iam pesimistic, but dont want to throw the towel yet.

    #27 8 months ago
  28. Dave Cook

    @ManuOtaku Much appreciated bud :)

    #28 8 months ago
  29. bradk825

    Hating on someone for being successful is downright stupid. A local DJ who handles all the comedy on the station was making fun of Dane Cook one time, saying having x-amount of twitter followers doesn’t make someone funny. I thought about calling in to say “but telling jokes on a radio station in a small town does?” Sour grapes all the way right?

    Anyway, this guy has nothing to offer me personally, but I don’t think it makes any sense at all to say he doesn’t deserve this money when he made it by way of his own work.

    #29 8 months ago
  30. monkeygourmet


    They will be fine because they can go on Youtube and see how to make such life giving food as ‘Skeeti and Butter’ washed down with’Toilet Wine’, and defend themselves from attackers using Mento’s powered Cola rockets! :)

    #30 8 months ago
  31. YoungZer0


    It’s a pity, really. Though I don’t spend any time on twitch, I have seen a few of the more famous let’s players on youtube. Always gave them a try. Terrible. Really, really bad stuff. They talk over cutscenes, don’t care about the game, or topic, get easily confused because I can’t keep their mouth shut.

    It’s all about them and in my opinion that’s not what it should be about. If I’d ever care for Let’s plays, I’d probably watch something like Gopher. This guy’s great. Most of the time he completely immerses himself into the games, talking as if he’s the character himself. It’s a thing of beauty. He’s not trying to build himself up as some kind of star or something.

    Also interesting was GameGrumps, mostly because it was actually funny and the guys playing the games were pretty passionate about them.

    #31 8 months ago
  32. AmiralPatate

    I don’t like his videos, but if he can live from what he likes doing, good for him.
    The great thing about gaming and the Internet, is that no matter what you like, you must hate anything that looks like it but isn’t quite the same with a passion. If not, you’re gay.

    #32 8 months ago
  33. ManuOtaku

    @monkeygourmet LoL :-) iam picturing right now that scene, great to having you back mate.

    #33 8 months ago
  34. monkeygourmet


    Good to see you back too! :)

    That scene will be happening sooner rather than later too… It sounds exactly like Sunset Overdrive! ;)

    #34 8 months ago
  35. monkeygourmet


    “This culture really needs to slow down.”

    Completly agree, the shelf life of media is crazy. The internet has turned into ‘list’ articles because people can’t focus on more than that! (well, that and the extra ‘clicks’ it generates) :)


    Yeah, a real shame about Twitch, I haven’t experimented much with that format, but it does indeed seem full of absolute tripe.


    Yeah, your def right about the Merc in Mario Kart… Of all the things they could have added from the ripe history of games they have under their belt?! I mean WTf?!

    I think there is a lot of ‘false confidence’ instilled in people at the moment. The ‘anyone can be a star’ mentality. It’s great people have access, but to get good at something takes work.

    (most) People are not spending time honing there skills, instead, just throwing random crap online in the hope it sticks. There is no ‘finished product’, just 100′s upon 1000′s of videos of un-talented idiots whoring themselves out for a quick buck.

    #35 8 months ago
  36. ManuOtaku

    oh and i forgot to mention, we have the monkeys back on the site, recently i did saw orbitmonkey as well, great to see him back as well knowing is well and alive.

    Now I hope for DSB, gigahurtz, and others from the old days, just to know they are fine.

    #36 8 months ago
  37. YoungZer0


    Ah, yes. Not only lists, but articles also have to be more direct and personal.

    “20 reasons *game title* is actually better than you think it is”

    Never mind the fact that I actually like *game title*.

    #37 8 months ago
  38. budoshi

    “”Others are treating the revelation like some kind of elaborate mystery. They simply don’t get it.”"

    that is pretty much what i was thinking reading that article.. i simply cant stand the guy..i tried ..just cant. i prefer angry joe show and radbrad over that guy , they are more mature? less kidddy videos and probably gonna shock some here but less gay? anyway good for him.

    #38 8 months ago
  39. polygem

    sorry guys. good discussion. but have to set up my play$station 4now :D

    #39 8 months ago
  40. monkeygourmet



    It’s hard to know what comes first. Do articles / things change because of peoples needs, or, do people not realise how to seek alternatives?

    I think the blame is firmly on the bigger companies / advertisers. I don’t really like the ‘if you don’t like it, don’t buy it’, arguement. Only because I view these routines as habitual now. Everything is made so super comfy, people are happy with the status quo.

    Why move when I am comfy as I am?

    There have been many periods in history where people have been happy / placated, even though really shitty things have been happening, for me, it’s not an indication of a successful society.

    People are easily herded now, more than ever. Patterns form and those habits can be directly targetted or manipulated.

    But again, even in these times people learn to capitilse on these trends, Pewdie Pie being a perfect example.

    #40 8 months ago
  41. monkeygourmet


    Get outta here you coperate loving whore! :)

    ( I will also pick up a PS4 soon ;) )

    #41 8 months ago
  42. GrimRita

    Without this man, Flappy Bird would have remained an unknown. If someone can generate that kind of interest in anything(this case an app), he must be doing something right. Good luck to him and haters are gonna hater probably because they didn’t stick with youtube or jump on the bandwagon soon enough

    #42 8 months ago
  43. TheWulf


    There are a lot of anti-intellectual people in the world who enjoy questionable, loud, obnoxious, puerile entertainment. Just look at the nasty replies you got to your Ubisoft articles. What people like PewDiePie are is a magnet to the dregs of humanity; which aren’t necessarily the poor, as you can have a low-functioning sociopath in just about any walk of life (managerial especially).

    And since extroverts make up the majority of humankind, and they all seem to like loud, obnoxious things (parties, going out to the town, et al), then it’s not surprising. Couple that with the herd-like attitudes shown by those people, and all it takes is someone with a mere nanogram of personal charisma and will power to coerce the rest into following them. I mean, there’s no other explanation other than that for people like James Cameron and George Bush getting into power.

    That’s just humanity for you. A lot of it really isn’t that smart in the first place, but they have money regardless, because that’s how the system is designed. The system isn’t designed to reward the intelligent, because if it were, engineers would run the world.

    #43 8 months ago
  44. TheWulf

    Er, David Cameron, rather. I honestly can’t be arsed to remember his name, because I find him so obnoxious, so I just mix him up with other Camerons.

    But yes, he’s not whom I voted for. If it were me, I’d put the Greens in power. But the political system isn’t designed to reward intelligence, so they have less of a chance, failing that… bloody Labour, I guess, as the lesser of evils.

    But… yeah. I just…

    If PewDiePie ran for office…


    #44 8 months ago
  45. Gheritt White

    @TheWulf This just in: TheWulf declares that all parties are obnoxious! Millions rejoice, safe in the knowledge that the sour cunt can only irk them online and not IRL.

    #45 8 months ago
  46. ManuOtaku

    @TheWulf engineers ruling the world, that remind me of a joke here in venezuela, a road making company is curious about one old forgotten town that hasnt call them, never, to construct roads, despite having multiple functional roads.
    They Decide to send an engineer, he did arrive to the town and in the entrance saw a donkey with an old man on the side, he approach him and asks what are you doing, transporting materials to construct a road, and the engineer asks, how?, the donkey transports rocks and materials, ok says the engineer, then asks and how you craft the road, the old man says, with the donkey using a medieval device, and how you calculate the direction topographic meassures, levels, etc, which the old man replies the donkey with his instincts, now the engineer starts to get angry, and asks and what do you do if the donkey dies and you dont have more donkeys, the old man replies well we call an engineer then

    #46 8 months ago
  47. YoungZer0

    @Gheritt White

    The more I read his comments, the more I think we might consider calling the police. A few more tick tocks and this bomb might go off.

    #47 8 months ago
  48. ManuOtaku

    @YoungZer0 i think is quite the opposite, if he/she does not post here, he might not be able to vent his feelings, and might explode internally. Therefore let him post here, we dont know how much relief it means to him.
    If you dont like his style or opinion, ignore it, let him have this relief at least, he might need it.

    #48 8 months ago
  49. CyberMarco

    Just wanted to say that since a certain individual was banned from this site I’m glad there is a civil and decent conversation in this article.

    Keep ‘em banning… ehm I mean coming! ;)

    #49 8 months ago
  50. Armitage Shanks

    Wulf has really gone off the deep end lately,the first thing i do when clicking on any article here is immediately check the comments section for one of his/her/its diatribes,really seems to be reaching critical mass.

    #50 8 months ago
  51. monkeygourmet


    That joke was funny, survived translation well :)

    #51 8 months ago
  52. YoungZer0


    Alright. If it means that we’re saving lives, then we’ll have to endure.

    #52 8 months ago
  53. ManuOtaku

    @monkeygourmet thanks o tried my best, glad someone find it funny.

    #53 8 months ago
  54. harr0w

    Why would I watch someone play when it would be clearly eating into my own time which could be spent playing the game I want. Kids just get fucking weirder and weirder.

    #54 7 months ago
  55. ObsCureNinja

    Yes, I am jealous of a guy who spends most of his videos joking about rape constantly…over and over…and over and over….and then a little bit more rape.

    Yeah, really jealous of that. Because joking about rape is cool.

    I’m aware that he did say sorry for that once, but then he just kept doing it again.

    Why do people assume any criticism or hate is only down to jealousy?

    #55 7 months ago
  56. Rafa_L

    I can’t stand a video of pewdiepie, completely not my thing. Am i jealous of his money? Damn sure, but just as much as any other who has that kind of money legally, if Kardashians can be millionaires, why not him… It makes me sad though, that that kind of content, that I consider so stupid speaks to so many.

    This video has some interesting points on why pewdiepie got so popular besides the content.

    #56 7 months ago
  57. Digital Bamboo

    This channel is a celebration of buffoonery for those unable to commit to anything (even their own opinions).

    28 million viewers reveling in the randomness, unsure of what they want to do, so they continue doing nothing.

    Could this foretell a future with fewer story-based games (who can be bothered to pay attention? ) and more frenetic online shooters, constant commentary and ‘connectedness’, or has that future already arrived?

    #57 7 months ago
  58. Dave Cook

    @ObsCureNinja I didn’t assume you were jealous about the rape jokes, and yes I also think they’re appalling, but that’s besides the point of this article. I don’t watch him either for my own reasons, but you can’t argue with cold, hard cash.

    #58 7 months ago
  59. majicship

    I’m 55 and have been watching YouTube gaming walk-through’s for about four years now and at first it was interesting to watch how others played similar games to me, and it was also a great way to preview a game before making a final purchase. This has worked well for me over the years and I have played some amazing games that I would never have previously considered. That said, as soon as publishers started dishing out preview/review copies of games and invitations to studios, press conferences etc. to the various YouTube channel owners, I found the content of the videos very quickly declined to the point where it seemed that many of those I was following had simply become a mouthpiece for the publishers. I don’t care how hip nor how wealthy these channel owners might be, nobody else in their right mind thought The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct or Aliens: Colonial Marines etc. was any good.

    #59 7 months ago
  60. unknown_gamer

    I don’t understand the fact how he suddenly becomes famous , it looks like some sort of a conspiracy theory going behind his sudden fame , he was just a normal guy like anyone else who plays COD and Minecraft , how does he become famous , i have no idea

    #60 7 months ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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