Interview by Vinny Fanneran
“Top O’ The Earnin’ T’Ya”
Since his appearance on RTE 2’s Rich List in the ‘30 under 30’ category, Athlone native Seán William McLoughlin (as his birth certificate calls him) has been plastered across non-gaming media throughout the country. What is surprising to those moderately invested in the gaming or YouTube scenes is how unknown JackSepticEye was in Ireland until his recent financial ‘outing’.
With over 16 million subscribers on YouTube, it’s even more surprising how much of Seán’s newly-adoring Irish public seem to have never seriously considered the popularity of gaming content on YouTube before this week or just how vast YouTube’s ad fortune truly is - an eye-watering €10 billion in 2016, of which €1 billion was paid to content creators.
To grasp just popular gaming content is on YouTube is a little harder to pin down as ‘gaming’ is a broad term. The oft-quoted ‘15% of overall views’ has likely changed since the last in-depth analysis in 2014 and this percentage of views is a poor indicator of revenue slice as YouTube pays not just on this metric but also takes ‘engagement rates’ and ad views and clicks into consideration.
Content engagement rates for gaming content are very high in the community; gamers like/dislike regularly, subscribe to many channels (and actually watch them) and acquiesce to YouTuber’s frequent requests for comments. Conversely, ad click rates are lower than average, the second-lowest in fact of all the categories on YouTube. These two factors further muddy the waters around true figures for gaming YouTube earnings.
However, far less-scientific metrics are still useful for demonstration purposes. Swedish controversy magnet PewDiePie (Felix Kjellberg) is still the top earner, earning €12.5 million in 2016 alone. That PewDiePie is joined on Forbes’ top 10 by another explicitly game-related star in Markiplier (Mark Edward Fischbach) is telling. More so is the fact that three of the remaining top-ten sometimes offer content of a gaming variety.
Non-Gaming Channels Frequently Flirts with Gaming
Rhett and Link frequently feature YouTube gaming’s finest on their GoodMythicalMorning channel amongst their line-up of celebrity guests and regularly abuse the industry for laughs.
Rosanna Pansino’s channel carries YT favourite Nerdy Nummies, a show known as much for its attention to variety as its geek-chic cuisine. A motherboard cake, Final Fantasy pancakes or Power Rangers cookies; just three of the vast galaxy of nerd culture staples heavily frosted and laced with food dye.
Similarly, Smosh offer comedy drawing from a broad pop culture palette. A palette that naturally includes video games, retro and current. Smosh are most famous for their ‘Every [Blank] Ever’ and ‘If [Blank] Were Real’ which make for fine video game comedy when the topic comes around. They also run a gaming-specific channel, Smosh Games, which has its own 7.1 million subscriber base.
The propensity of comedy to mix well with gaming culture on YouTube can also be seen in the personality-driven gaming-specific channels that occupy the top 500 most subbed channels.
The upcoming PlayersXpo 2017 hosts three popular YouTubers from this list that choose to present themselves as personalities around gaming; challenging their friends or streaming solely to foster a party-style atmosphere. The skills needed to play the games are secondary, mere vehicles for entertainment.
Jelly and IamSanna are definitions of this style. With nearly eight million subscribers between them, the couple are practically YouTube royalty. Albeit royalty that invites you into their lives while pranking each other and challenging each other on GTA V or collaborating on Minecraft.
Slogoman, the Englishman has a keen sense of what makes entertaining game-related content. Slogoman (Josh Temple) is known for tackling the most popular titles but usually using modification files or ‘mods’ to inject fun into his videos while differentiating himself from YouTubers playing ‘vanilla’ or unmodded titles.
The Irish on YouTube
JackSepticEye is not the only Irish person to find success on YouTube nor is he the only one with obvious gaming skills to go along with their personality. All-Cast Irish Gamers are small but dedicated channel which mixes playthroughs to highlight their skills along with every type of gaming content one can imagine from news to interviews and event coverage. All-Cast are as prolific as they are broad having published over 850 videos over three years and as such, All-Cast will probably be fielding some production and start-up questions at PlayersXpo 2017 as panel members.
Another Irish gaming star Anti-Tinkerbell may be more famous as a Twitch.tv streamer. The Dub is well-known for her Loot Crate openings which are more likely to induce laughter than product-envy and her skilled showings on Twitch favourites Rocket League, Battlefield, Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto V. With a follower count over 15 times greater on the video streaming platform, Anti-Tink has something extra to offer her viewers live.
Her stream of Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day parade and her birthday party show that the personal experience and sense of community of gaming video makers is probably as important as the content that made her famous.
While All-Cast and Anti-Tinkerbell not have the financial clout of JackSepticEye, interaction with fans and the subsequent embrace of their fans must surely be an element common to every channel as they grow from single-digit subscriber counts to mainstream success.
PlayersXpo 2017 welcomes Jelly, IamSanna, Slogoman, All-Cast Irish Gamers and Anti-Tinkerbell as panel members.
PlayersXpo, Ireland’s ULTIMATE gaming event is taking over The Convention Centre, Dublin on the 28th & 29th of October! Get your tickets here