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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