Have you ever taken a look at the top 100 YouTube channels and the type of content they contain? You’ve got a bunch that you expect – big celebrities like Katy Perry, viral stars like OfficialPsy, and brands with a massive online presence like College Humor but then what else do you see up there? A whole bunch of gaming channels of which many specialize in Minecraft videos. This post will be to theorize about what makes them so successful, but this is just based on my own personal experiences with YouTube and Minecraft.
Now I’m no novice to Minecraft. I’ve played through the game to the end level, built mine tracks through mountains, and modded the game so that everyone looks like a pony. For me personally, it was fun for a while but it really lost its charm after you realize how repetitive the base game actually is for me personally but many people seem to revel in redoing the same or similar tasks. In fairness, I used to be a World of Warcraft player which is stuffed full of repeatable daily quests so there you go.
Now these Minecraft channels like SkyDoesMinecraft and BlueXephos came out a few guys getting together to do let’s plays with commentary, and generally have clearly defined net personalities. Now the degree to which a content creator develops an online speaking persona or talks normally varies but no one gets to millions of subs without being incredibly funny or informative.
In general, let’s plays are about entertaining the audience with whatever you are doing in game so these channels are almost entirely about the entertainment value instead of the education (although there are plenty of Minecraft tutorials as well and some channels specialize in both). So are they big because they’re funny and entertaining? Well yes, but that’s a gross oversimplification.
More specifically, why do the Minecraft channels make it big over most other games? Well a few things come to mind. Firstly, Minecraft has an insane replayability. Every time you log into Minecraft something different is going to happen. With most other games, once you’ve played it once or seen it once, there’s very little else left. So in this way, a channel can maintain an audience for years because there will always be something new to do. If you look at other big games and big channels that find success on youtube like League of Legends, Hearthstone, and Starcraft II then you will see a definite correlation in the replayability and how big the YouTube community dedication to the game becomes.
Secondly of course, Minecraft is very popular in the first place. Check out the stats here and see how many people have bought the game. Currently it stands over 18 million which makes it hands down one of the most successful games of all time.
Now I think one thing that really separates Minecraft channels away from channels doing games like League of Legends is the shift away from skill based gameplay towards entertainment creativity. To be able to play a high paced action game and commentate simultaneously is challenging. If the tournament streams are anything to go by as well, when it comes to those competitive games people want to see the best players in action. To be able to play a game like League of Legends at a professional level you have got to play around 10 hours a day of serious practice from what I’ve hear pros say in interviews. Serious practice means you’re totally focused on the game, not about creating YouTube videos. When a pro is seen it’s usually in the live stream and vods of tournaments that are hosted up on the company’s channel not the individuals. Now that’s not to say that pros don’t get any online presence. Take a look at twitter and you’ll see some of the best with hundreds of thousands of subs but that doesn’t come quite towards 10 million. On top of that, watch the average pro gamer in an interview and you’ll see someone who’s actually quite shy and uncomfortable with social situations. They’re focused on mastering a game not mastering entertainment value.
So with Minecraft, when there is no winning or competition but an insane amount of replayability and room for creativity there is really no end to the amount of silly shenanigans that you can pull off in each and every video. When the best YouTube content creators develop a personality around a popular games and become go to people for entertainment, then that’s when they spring board to the top of the charts as individuals and not as tournament vods for Riot Games or Blizzard entertainment.[su_note note_color=”#2A2A26″ text_color=”#ffffff”][su_youtube_advanced url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqELqRCnW6g”]Blue Xephos #1 Most Popular Video[/su_note]