The game vlogger/prankster revealed Friday in a video that his claims over the past week that he was driven to go nuclear and kill off his ultra-popular channel were all an attention-seeking joke. PewDiePie had claimed YouTube was cheating him out of video views — which is a real issue other YouTubers have griped about — and that he was going to start all over from scratch.
Instead, PewDiePie, the nom-de-tube of Felix Kjellberg, deleted “jack septiceye2,” a prank account he had set up to troll fellow gamer Jacksepticeye (Seán William McLoughlin), who like PewDiePie is known for his “Let’s Play” videos.
“You know when you make a joke and it just blows up bigger than you ever imagined?” Kjellberg says innocently in the video, obviously relishing the fact that many people took his repeated and serious-seeming vows to delete his YouTube channel at face value.
At the same, it’s safe to conclude Kjellberg was in fact irritated with changes YouTube has apparently made to its suggested-videos algorithm. The changes dropped PewDiePie’s views derived from the suggested-videos feed from about 30% prior to November to less than 1% for new videos uploaded last month, he claimed.
An end card on PewDiePie’s video reads: “Will delete PewDiePie at 100 million!” with War’s “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” playing in the background.
YouTube, on its official Twitter account, congratulated PewDiePie on the prank. YouTube hasn’t provided an explanation for the drop in views many creators have reported.
While PewDiePie’s channel-deletion ultimatum was ultimately a gag, the sudden plunge of video views for some YouTube creators could lead them to find greener pastures if the problem continues, said Brendan Gahan, founder of social-media agency Epic Signal. “Many of them have success on other video platforms, so advertisers need to keep a pulse on these digital influencers as this story hasn’t gone away,” he said.
Kjellberg pulled a stunt in August in which he claimed he unverified his Twitter account, as some sort of protest over the company’s “annoying” verification process. That led to his Twitter account being suspended briefly after he tweeted a joke that he’d been unverified because he had joined ISIS (after he retweeted a fake news story saying the same).