Youtube stars making a living from games

Youtube stars making a living from games - 12th September 2015


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The most-viewed YouTube channel in the world doesn't belong to Taylor Swift, Kim Kardasian or Justin Bieber.

It's run by 25-year-old gamer, Felix Kjellberg.

He goes by the name of PewDiePie and his channel has more than 39 million subscribers, making it the most-viewed in the world.

His videos feature him playing his favourite games along with his own brand of quirky commentary, have just hit a staggering 10 billion views.

Thanks to that following Kjellberg was able to make $10.4m last year, mainly through online advertising.

His success might sound like something of an anomaly - but he's not alone.

There are many people out there who are capitalising on the popularity of watching others play video games online.

In fact, half of the top 100 YouTube channels by watchtime are gaming, with billions of hours being spent watching such content every month.

Another popular gamer is Ashley Mariee, a 19-year-old Brit who now lives in LA.

Her speciality is Minecraft and her video views are in the tens of millions.

"When I started this I didn't expect to make a living out of it," she said.

"When I was younger I was like that weird, awkward kid that nobody wants to be friends with, and it's just been crazy watching my channel grow.

"It's crazy knowing I can actually live off YouTube.

"Originally I wanted to be an actress - so I guess I am kind of getting what I wish for in a way."

But all this begs the question - what's the appeal?

Surely the fun in games is playing them, rather than watching others play them?

At a gaming event in London last week, around 6,000 people, mainly young teenagers, came to see some of these YouTube stars, including Ashley, play against each other in a live arena.

Legends Of Gaming gave these fans the rare opportunity to see their idols in the flesh, so I put the question to them.

"You kind of look to them for inspiration," one fan told me.

"You can see how they are making friends and how people look up to them through making videos and getting views and people liking them.

"They can also make your life feel a bit better as their videos are funny and can really cheer you up when you feel down."

"These videos give you the opportunity to see games being played that you are thinking of buying," said another.

"I've seen people play a few games that I have wanted to get, but been put off because I have seen lots of bugs and glitches that were making the game really bad."

The industry is well aware of the popularity of these videos too.

Last year, Amazon bought video-game streaming site Twitch for 585m.

The website lets players stream their exploits live to an online community.

And now YouTube has launched its own gaming service to try and outplay the competition, YouTube Gaming.

"Gaming has been a huge thing on YouTube for a long time," said Alan Joyce, product manager for the new service.

"We saw a gap in the market.

"We talked to a lot of YouTube channel creators and they told us they wanted live streaming to be a key part of the way they build their channel and the way they address their audience.

"Community is a really important part of what makes gaming successful on YouTube.

"PewDiePie, for example, has his devoted fans who care not just about the games he is playing, but about him as a person too.

"They feel an affinity with him in the way you would with your favourite talk show host. It's about personality and interacting with your audience."

With people spending 75% more time watching gaming videos this year than last year, the market is showing no signs of slowing down.

And as it continues to expand, it seems that gamers like Felix and Ashley are destined to become the next generation of celebrity.