Let’s Play with PewDiePie, the ultimate troll
Who is PewDiePie and why is the world talking about him? Felix Kjellberg, better known to his fans as PewDiePie, is a Swedish gamer who has become the most subscribed YouTube user of all time. His six years on the video sharing platform have also been lucrative: in just the twelve months ending June 2016, his earnings amounted to over $15 million USD. However on Friday, December 2nd, citing YouTube’s product and content changes, he announced that if he reached 50 million subscribers, he would shutter his channel—leaving his millions of subscribers and over 13 billion views just a memory. When he hit 50 million last Thursday, PewDiePie tweeted that he would shut down his channel at 5pm GMT Friday (noon EST), unleashing an uproar from subscribers and media. PewDiePie is known for his pranks and tricks (his joking tweet about joining ISIS got him temporarily suspended from Twitter in August), so many wondered if this was just the latest joke, but he maintained that his threat was sincere. Ending his channel would be about the largest statement he could make regarding the issues many YouTubers have been facing lately; for instance, despite having 50 million subscribers, PewDiePie’s latest videos only amassed about 2 million views each, a problem he referenced in his shutdown video.
Some observers, like Canadian YouTuber Rerez, said the sky was falling, and that YouTube couldn’t go on without PewDiePie. Others called his outrage “a temper tantrum by a man-baby who makes millions of dollars playing video games.” Regardless of sentiment, his mark on YouTube has been historic, pioneering the Let’s Play style of videos that have become so popular among gamers. But could losing PewDiePie really have any effect on YouTube as a whole? Perhaps changes to algorithms might come about from his departure, but ultimately, he’s only one vlogger. A YouTube without PewDiePie is like removing (an admittedly large) cup of water from the ocean; YouTube would fill in and continue without him, assuming he actually went through with deleting his account. Only noon would tell.
The designated time arrived, and fans around the world waited with bated breath. Finally, PewDiePie posted a video titled, “DELETING MY CHANNEL,” where he took fans along as he deleted his account. “It’s time to fulfill my promise,” he said, as he hit delete – on his less popular (and profitable) “Jack septiceye2” account. Of course, this wasn’t entirely unexpected: after all, most people would think it was idiotic to kill a 15-million-dollar cash cow just for a glorified prank. PewDiePie finished the video by deriding the media and fans who had believed he would delete his main channel, before calling the whole controversy a massive joke. Either way, he emerges as the winner in this situation: his channel gained over 600,000 followers in the week since the first announcement, compared to only about 90,000 the week before. And he’s not done yet; right at the end of the video, PewDiePie had one final bombshell to drop: “WILL DELETE PEWDIEPIE AT 100 MILLION!” I don’t know about you, but I’m not holding my breath.
This blog post was written by our Microsoft Intern, Amy Gingerich. To see more of what our agency is doing in the influencer space, follow us @VeritasComm.