"I'm just a guy from Sweden who likes to laugh and make other people laugh. Sharing gaming moments on YouTube with my bros!"
That is the stated mission of PewDiePie, aka Felix Kjellberg, a 23-year-old vlogger/video game enthusiast who, believe it not, is the biggest thing on YouTube, at least in terms of subscribers. As of Tuesday afternoon, PewDiePie had over 12 million subscribers, more than the likes of Smosh (though Smosh blows PewDiePie away when it comes to views).
Is this a joke? Hard to say. Kjellberg, who refers to his subscribers as bros, produces seriously off the wall videos of him playing video games while providing commentary, often loaded with f-bombs. Last week, PewDiePie held four of the top 10 slots on VideoWatch's YouTube series ranker. The clip Funny Gaming Montage! has close to 24 million views.
Adweek's VideoWatch caught up with Kjellberg to talk about his remarkable success.
Why does it feel like you came out of nowhere?
With my channel, and what people associate with Internet, most people think it goes viral, you become this huge thing super quick. I never had an explosion or a huge thing. It’s just been something that has progressively been growing. It’s been building.
What do you do exactly?
That’s always a really difficult thing to explain. You’d think well, I’m so big on YouTube. But people who don’t know YouTube have absolutely no idea. It’s a difficult thing to explain. I make funny videos of me playing video games, and I share those moments.
Are you yourself in these videos, or are you playing a role?
I’m myself in a way. But it’s me giving 100 percent energy. I’m not like this 100 percent all the time. It’s me keeping it more energetic, crazy.
Can you talk about how you built up the following you did?
I have a really close relationship with my fans. They can talk to me directly. I’m really breaking that wall. I think that is what really is different. I hope watching a video with me is like almost hanging out with me or a real friend. I have a solid connection with fans.
Do you ever work with brands? Or want to?
I’ve done very [little] with brands. I’m already so happy with doing what I’m doing it has’t felt necessary. I’m hoping more gaming companies will realize how valuable it is and send me games to play with. That’s probably a better promotion that most gaming magazines. I’m not really reviewing games, just having fun with it. As long as my fans don’t see a problem with it, [I’d work with other brands]. I’ve never gotten an offer from someone that I feel comfortable with.
So, is this your full-time job or just for fun?
It’s a very difficult thing to manage. It started out as a hobby. I didn’t know you could make a living doing this. Now it’s a hobby and at the same time a job. I treat it both ways and try to keep things down to earth. I don’t have a production crew.
Do you feel pressure now that your audience is so big?
I mean, there is a definitely pressure from the audience. I want certain things, and they sometimes want other things. It’s hard to make everyone happy. I just try and do what I like to do, but I feel like I can’t ignore them.
Any crazy fan experiences?
I have to be really careful. I often get recognized on the street. There was a moment in Singapore … it was almost like I was part of a boy band or the Beatles.