YouTube star Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg is turning online-talent mogul, by launching his own network of gamers called Revelmode.
Described as an “Avengers-like talent squad”, it will sit within Maker Studios, the multi-channel network (MCN) to which PewDiePie has been signed since 2012.
Kjellberg has signed up eight of his fellow YouTubers for the launch, including popular stars Sean McLoughlin (creator of the JackSepticEye channel), Mark Fischbach (Markiplier), Emma Blackery and Ken Morrison (CinnamonToastKen).
Revelmode will focus on developing “premium” content: online-video shows that may sit within subscription services like YouTube Red, for which Kjellberg is already making a horror-themed series called Scare PewDiePie. The first Revelmode series will be an animated show featuring all the squad members.
However, those stars – who also include the creators of YouTube channels CutiePieMarzia, Dodger, Jelly and Kwebbelkop – will also appear in their own games, sell merchandise, and raise money for charities including Save the Children and Charity:Water.
While the names of these creators may not be familiar outside the games world, they are hugely popular online: PewDiePie alone has 41.5 million subscribers and 10.9bn lifetime views on YouTube, while the other eight Revelmode members have 35.3 million subscribers and 9.7bn views between them.
“I have seen many challenges and successes in growing a brand and authentically communicating with an audience, and wanted to take what I’ve learned and create something unique,” said Kjellberg.
“The idea of Revelmode was built from my own experiences and will aim to bring together an Avengers-like talent squad to work and grow a business together.”
“From my perspective, Revelmode is a shift in how talent can approach a digital company and work together for a common good,” he said. “Together we will focus on creating – from one-off videos to original series to gamey games to animatoons, music, clothes, charity drives, and more – really anything that’s awesome in the eyes of the fans.”
Maker Studios chief Courtney Holt described Revelmode as the company “doubling down with Felix”, after reports in 2014 that Kjellberg was considering going it along and setting up his own MCN.
“I’m in touch with a couple of people who I think would be so right for this. I’m eager to get it all up and running. So far, all the networks have been managed in such an incredibly poor way, it’s embarrassing really. I’d like to help other YouTubers,” he told Swedish magazine Icon in October 2014.
16 months on, he’s doing that within Maker Studios rather than outside it: the YouTube equivalent of a music label giving an artist their own imprint to sign bands they like, or a broadcaster striking a development deal with a star actor’s production company.
For an MCN like Maker Studios, which is owned by Disney, keeping hold of its stars is important – particularly for gaming, which has become one of YouTube’s most popular categories alongside music and children’s content.
In November 2015 alone, the 100 top games channels on YouTube’s videos were watched nearly 6.4bn times, led by PewDiePie’s 319.9m views that month.
YouTube has been throwing its weight behind these creators, launching a standalone YouTube Games app in August 2015, and encouraging talk of gaming videos as an alternative to traditional entertainment.
“It is a lot more attainable to be the next PewDiePie than it is to be the next Tom Cruise,” said YouTube’s chief business officer, Robert Kyncl, in a keynote speech at the CES technology show this month.
While Revelmode’s launch squad is made up of established online stars, it will also be seeking out emerging YouTube creators who are taking Kyncl up on that challenge.
This article was written by Stuart Dredge, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 13th January 2016 21.43 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010