Remember when your mom told you that you’d never make a living by sitting around and playing video games all day? Well, mothers across the globe are eating their words as the sheer phenomenon of YouTube gaming channels continues to sweep the attentions of billions and makes some lucky creators millions. In 2017, Forbes crowned DanTDM – or Dan Middleton – as the year’s highest paid YouTube star, racking in a hefty $16.5 million. How does a gamer make such a huge profit off of YouTube videos, you ask? Determination and a whole lotta Minecraft.
Youtubers are nothing without viewers. Luckily for DanTDM, his gaming empire continues to grow with its current count at 17.8 million and 24.8 million subscribers.
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While the beginnings of his YouTube career in 2007 were slow, it was the creation of his channel “TheDiamondMinecart” in 2012 which granted him the platform he has now. Middleton’s content was primarily Minecraft walkthrough and commentary videos – a trend many Youtubers were following as attributed to the nearly 4 million Minecraft related videos that were released to the site that same year. Middleton took his Minecraft-ing to the nect level, exploring ever inch of Minecraft in a way that no other creator has – even setting a Guinness World Record for Most Views for a Dedicated Minecraft Video in November.
“I never imagined it would grow to this,” he says in an interview with TODAY, “This is insane. It’s crazy. Every day I pinch myself to see if it’s real.”
Middleton goes on to discuss the self-censorship he enforces within his videos to appease his target audience,
“My audience is a younger generation and, just in general, I wouldn’t want to show my mom a video of me swearing like crazy. It’s good clean fun.”
DanTDM has a handful of other ventures that add up to his humongous income. In October 2016, Middleton made his debut as an author with his graphic novel Trayaurus and the Enchanted Crysta. – which incorporates various original characters from his channel. Along with worldwide tours and merchandise, DanTDM has accumulated an estimated net worth of $35 million.
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Though Middleton isn’t the only one racking in the dough. There’s hundreds of creators across the world making gaming content for YouTube, with a handful of diamonds in the rough that make millions. Fellow gamer Markiplier – or Mark Fischbach – made $19.5 million dollars last year while allocating 3.1 billion views and 27.8 million subscribers.
Fischbach’s eight year career as a Youtuber, which began with him buying a camera with his 2012 tax refund, has granted him a net worth of an estimated $35 million. His uber-comedic approach to commentating his “Let’s Play”s put Fiscghbach on the map as a giant in the YouTube community. Maintain his presence as an internet influencer on social media grants him anywhere from $10 to $20 million a year for posting regularly on Instagram and Twitter. Along with selling merchandise, a large chunk of his profits, like any other Youtube creator, comes from brand sponsored videos. For example, one Fischerbach’s more recent sponsored video, “AFK Arena – Official Trailer” Markiplier produces a 5 minute trailer for a mobile game produced by Lilith Games and Original Entertainment.
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The most surprising case for this ever-growing internet career is 8 year old Ryan Kaji, who remains the king of Youtube with his channel “Ryan’s World” making him $29.5 million in 2020 – consistently increasing from his $26 million in 2019 and $22 million in 2018. His unboxing videos, where he giddily his new toys if the day, garnishes his channel with 41.7 million subscribers and 12.2 billion views.
“When they (kids) watch a video of Ryan, they feel a sense of kinship,” researcher for the University of California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, Jarrod Walczer tells Vox,
“And in an age of the neoliberalization of parenting, moms and dads working longer hours.”
Kaji is soon to become one of the many stars of YouTube to break out of the interwebs with his new deal to star in a Nickelodeon show on Hulu.
While his success continues to grow, his family has received massive backlash in the past. In 2019, Ryan’s channel received a complaint from the Federal Trade Commission, accusing it of “deceiving children through sponsored videos that often have the look and feel of organic content,” according to the New York Times.
“A 5-year-old isn’t going to understand that Ryan’s talking about the toys because Target is paying him to talk about the toys,” Josh Goblin executive director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood explains to the New York Times.
Endorsement deals are dealt out to influencers who possess the magnified audience as Kaji. Brands like Wal-Mart and Chuck-E-Cheese put bread on his family’s table all for the simple task of advertising products in their videos. Though things get complicated when the lines are blurred between fun loving content and indirectly selling items to children.
With the scope of entertainment constantly shifting, creators look for more and more ways to make living of of doing what they love doing. The success of creators in the gaming community just goes to show that anything’s possible – even making a million off of Minecraft.
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Sources: Forbes, AFK Arena, Celebrity Net Worth, Social Blade
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