The 100 most popular gaming channels on YouTube generated nearly 3.5bn collective video views in May 2014, according to new research.
Games is already one of YouTube's biggest categories alongside music, but a new monthly chart published by industry site Tubefilter, based on data from analytics firm OpenSlate, shows its scale.
The most popular games channel is no surprise: PewDiePie has been the biggest channel of any category on YouTube for some time. Felix Kjellberg’s videos were watched 311.2m times in May, with 27.3m people subscribing to his channel.
He was followed by British gamer Joseph Garratt’s Stampy channel, which focuses on videos created within the Minecraft game. Stampy generated 165m views in May, with 2.8m subscribers. Garratt is preparing to launch a second education-focused channel called Stampy School.
43 of the top 100 games channels on YouTube are produced in the US, but the UK is the second biggest country with 16 – or 17 if you claim PewDiePie, a Swede now based in Brighton.
The Diamond Minecart (115.9m views in May), iBallisticSquid (75.6m), Yogscast (52.3m) and Wroetoshaw (37.7m) are some of the other British games channels building large audiences on YouTube, according to the chart.
YouTube has become a huge platform for “Let’s Play” walkthroughs and other games videos, fuelled by individual creators and multi-channel networks (MCNs) like Maker Studios, Machinima and Fullscreen.
The most popular channels are eagerly courted by games developers and publishers. Nintendo recently announced an affiliate program to share YouTube advertising revenues with channels that feature its games.
It was a response to a controversy last year, when the company began “claiming” YouTube videos featuring its games, and thus taking revenues from ads running around and within them for itself.
The top YouTube gaming channels have growing clout, including the ability to break new games to a worldwide audience. PewDiePie, for example, has been a key factor in the breakthrough of games including Surgeon Simulator and Flappy Bird.
Some developers complain that more YouTubers are expecting to be paid to feature games in their videos, rather than choosing them for editorial reasons, however. As this category of online video continues to grow, such controversies are unlikely to fade.
Publishers are also building large audiences on their own YouTube channels, however. The Tubefilter/OpenSlate chart's "top gainer" in May was the official channel for Activision's Call of Duty brand, with 28.5m views – more than half from a single marketing video starring Kevin Spacey.
YouTube is one strand of explosive growth in online games viewing, but the other is Twitch, a service focused on livestreams of games and gaming events. Twitch attracts 45m monthly viewers, and is reportedly being eyed by YouTube's parent company Google for a potential $1bn acquisition.
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