Professional gaming has gone beyond a craze. Now it’s something worth actually investing in. As pro-gamers broadcast their button-mashing to audiences of millions around the world, ESports have become one of the most passionate global sports among young audiences.
And the people playing them are fast becoming stars in their own right. This week it was reported that 25-year-old Felix Kjellberg, known online as PewDiePie, has made $7.4 million by filming himself playing video games for his Youtube channel.
Kjellberg has pulled in over 37.7 million subscribers since he first started vlogging, and has a total of 9 billion views across his videos. His huge pay packet has come from the amount he makes from adverts on his channel, and he even set up his own company, PewDiePie productions, to manage the financial side of his career.
But Kjellberg has faced a backlash over the amount he earns, prompting him to release a video called ‘Let’s Talk About Money’ to address the elephant in the room.
“I just feel like it's not important to anyone,” he says. “I just want to make entertaining videos. Don't get me wrong, though. I don't hate money. I'm not going to pretend it doesn't matter to me, because it matters to everyone.”
“They thought I just sit on my ass all day and just yell at the screen over here, which is true! But there's so much more to it than that, and I understand haters are gonna hate, right?”
“To see so many people being upset about this whole thing, it's just sad. It's such a waste.”
Not all of the $7.3 million will sit in his pocket, however. Youtube takes a 45% cut of total earnings, while Maker Studios, the network Kjellberg signed to, will take a portion too.
Maker Studios is a Los Angeles MCN (multi-channel network) that was bought by Disney last year. Their goal is to develop talent, commission shows and run networks, using stars like Kjellberg and his passionate, loyal fanbase and doing something commercially productive with them.
Kjellberg has pointed out that he does a lot of philanthropic work and uses his huge profile to drive awareness of causes he believes in. He previously raised $342,828 for Save the Children in 2014 through crowd funding, offering tiered rewards and incentives to fans donating .
“It seems like the whole world cares more about how much money I make than I do myself,” he said. We did raise $1m for charity and very few articles picked up on that, but here it is, everywhere, how much money I make.
”I don't think there's any good reason why anyone should care. And on top of that I guess there's no good reason why I should care either. So we're just going to end it there.“
It was recently announced that Kjellberg had signed a publishing deal for a 250-word book full of 'inspirational quotes' and advice.