If you ask anyone who creates quality video game content on YouTube, a few names are likely to come up: NakeyJakey, Errant Signal, Mega64, and of course my personal favorite monotonous comedian. Dunkey. And yet these popular channels are much smaller compared to YouTube’s larger gaming channels such as Markiplier or DanTDM, both in terms of audience and output.
I’m not trying to be mean here. Dunkey recently brought all of this to the fore with a provocative upload entitled “I’m Done Making Good Videos”. In the video, the YouTuber pulls back the curtain on content creation on his channel, and while much of it turns out to be ironic, there is a core of truth in everything he says. It’s one of the most open and eye-opening things YouTuber did in 2020.
“I look around the current YouTube landscape and see no future for my type of videos,” Dunkey begins. “As an artist, striving to be the best is good for your soul, but not really good for your bank account. Uncle Dunkey is getting old now and I have to think about my sanity, my family and how should I start making some money on this channel? I’ve had my foot completely on the pedal for years and still can’t keep up. “
He goes on to say that despite his best efforts, he is struggling to even make four videos a month, especially when compared to channels that upload daily. Some larger channels do even more.
The difference, of course, is that large channels often hire entire teams to help with certain aspects of content creation, from editing to YouTube optimization. Carefully crafted videos may have made YouTube appealing in the early days, but if you want to actually make money now, grind and churn is inevitable. And even if a team supports you, almost everyone plays Minecraft at one point or another, even if they swear, they never will. It is exactly what you have to do to survive.
This is where it gets particularly interesting. In the same video, Dunkey says that in order to make more money, he will outsource some of the grunt work of video creation and will also adopt new formats that have been shown to work on the platform. It’s a joke – the companies he lists as hired aid don’t exist. And the content he describes as “drama” reporting and Minecraft Videos are not Dunkey’s standard plan. At the time, it seemed like it was just pointing out what types of videos the platform likes to promote and what tends to fill YouTube’s “trending” page.
But then Dunkey actually went ahead and uploaded exactly what he had promised, on the schedule he suggested. However, if you click, you find that these are part of the gag too. For example, technically he did a reaction video with a face camera and all, but the footage is extremely short and ends after a poster unceremoniously fell to the floor. The Minecraft Video with a clickbait title linked to the “Uber driver sucked me off ?? “ memeis actually about Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. And the Between us The video contains some ridiculous 1v1 content where players take turns wondering if they are the cheater. The rounds end almost immediately after they start. They aren’t great videos in and of themselves.
And do you know what the wild is? The quality didn’t matter. All of these videos have per formed better
In an email, Dunkey’s wife Leah told Polygon (jokingly) that while the content creator was too busy to answer questions thanks to his new schedule, she could summarize his feelings about the stunt:
Overall, he is frustrated with the current YouTube landscape and worried about the future. While we’re fine now, that seems to be changing quickly as mega-channels take over more and more with daily uploads. Coupled with the sad feeling that he and other broadcasters put a lot of thought and effort into their videos to be overshadowed by the latest trends and stuff with little effort, this led to his new upload schedule.
The comments under Dunkey’s latest videos meanwhile do a great job of summarizing how confusing the whole scheme is.
“It’s honestly incredibly sad how his older videos, which were made with so much effort, typically had 1 million views per week, while these newer troll episodes are trending every time with little effort,” it said in a comment.
“I love that he makes fun of the broken system and makes a lot of money at the same time,” said another.
It is likely that the comedian will return to his regular program at some point. While none of what has happened so far is surprising – the hottest game in the world right now, of course, Between us, will do better than a niche game like Speleology 2 – Dunkey’s vulnerability to YouTube as a platform and its place in it is remarkable and worth hearing.