According to YouTube’s official statistics, over six billion hours of video are watched on the site each month with 100 hours of video uploaded to the site each minute. So influential is the video sharing site that YouTube gamers are more influential on teenagers than A-list celebrities.
Part of that is down to the level of entertainment with Let’s Play videos often offering humour, opinions and further insight into games than your standard print review. Given that these videos are often presented in easily digestible chunks too, these videos also cater to our rapidly decreasing attention spans.
YouTube has also proven to be incredibly lucrative as the site explains that “thousands of channels are making six figures a year” with Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg’s recently reported earnings being a good example of that. However, as the YouTube celebrity's wealth increases so does his frustration at YouTube’s comments and he has now switched them off after months of hassle.
Explained in the video above, the comments section beneath his videos have become such a mess that he is unable to read the (often quite supportive) comments from his fan “bros”. Instead, the comments sections are taken up by mindless spam, self-promotion and, according to PewDiePie, “people who are trying to provoke.”
It’s well known that PewDiePie hasn’t always had a great relationship with the comments section beneath his videos and he reiterates that he “complain[s] about the comments a lot” despite it being his “main way to communicate with [fans].” Understandably, this is going to be difficult with the comments in the state that they are but PewDiePie further explains that he was “hoping YouTube would figure a way out [for the comments to continue]” but with YouTube’s help failing to materialize he’s had to turn them off for good.
While this will undoubtedly be a problem for PewDiePie’s fans (although he suggests that his regular Twitter and Reddit conversations will take the comments’ place) it also spells out a big problem for YouTube. Although their decision to let videos display in 60FPS (Frames Per Second) is a huge win for gamers who use YouTube to watch game trailers, their copyright crackdown on Let’s Play videos as well as their failure to combat comments issues on their site’s most popular channel is hardly going to sit well.
It’s also incredibly unlikely that PewDiePie’s comments problem exists in a vacuum either. As seen with the acrimonious backlash to Anita Sarkeesian’s game related videos, the reaction can often be unnecessarily harsh rather than constructive. It’s obvious that comments filled with unhelpful debate – or copy and paste spam – isn’t something that viewers would want to see but as PewDiePie’s video suggested, it can also be disheartening for the video makers themselves.
Hopefully, though, the fact that PewDiePie has spoken out about the comments situation will encourage YouTube to act. Their (newly) Amazon-owned rival, Twitch, is famed for its chat sections and many viewers even pay for the privilege of extra chat features and so far YouTube is unable to compete with that.
YouTube will want to cater to gamers even more though given how much revenue their viewership can bring, so although PewDiePie says that comments won’t be making a return to his videos any time soon, perhaps with a big bit of change we’ll see comments under his videos once more in the future.
[Update: Pewdiepie quietly re-enabled them... what was the point?]