YouTube is giving Twitch a run for its money by introducing a new payment method for its creators. A $4.99 channel membership would give subscribers emojis, badges, and exclusive content.
John Bain, the British YouTuber known as TotalBiscuit as well as the Cynical Brit, has died after a long, drawn-out battle with cancer at the age of 33. Bain was known for his biting commentary, and unwillingness to back down when criticizing games.
What do you get when you combine boredom, voice acting, and a love for gaming? A Retro Replay YouTube channel hosted by Nolan North and Troy Baker!
Nolan North excitedly announced his and Troy Baker’s new YouTube channel this week, and Twitter users exploded in applause. IGN wholeheartedly supports their venture as well.
Many users, encouraged by North’s tweet, have already subscribed to the new channel in order to be notified of the latest updates.
As of now, the channel has about 5,000 subscribers, with just over 8,000 views on the first and only video. The video is their season one trailer for Retro Replay.
The actors will be bringing their range of voices, emotions, and stories to their series as they play old video games, giving a nod to them as they had inspired modern day game characters.
Don’t forget to tune in every Friday the Pixels & Ink Podcast to hear the latest news, previews, and in-depth game discussions!
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As a result of PewDiePie’s latest controversial videos, the most subscribed to YouTuber has been dropped from his network, Maker Studios, and Google has cancelled the second season of the Scare PewDiePie reality show for anti-Semitic behaviour.
The story begins with PewDiePie, Felix Kjellberg, uploading videos about the crowd-funding site, Fiverr, in which he requested and paid multiple users to say or perform something he thought would be funny for his viewers. The joke went to far for Google and Maker Studios however when Kjellberg requested two Indian men to lift up a sign saying, “Death to all Jews” and subscribe to Keemstar. The video has since been removed and re-uploaded without ads.
“I was trying to show how crazy the modern world is, specifically some of the services available online. I picked something that seemed absurd to me — that people on (crowd-sourcing platform) Fiverr would say anything for 5 dollars,” wrote Kjellberg on Tumblr. “I think it’s important to say something and I want to make one thing clear: I am in no way supporting any kind of hateful attitudes.”
After Google confirmed the cancellation of the second season of Scare PewDiePie, a YouTube spokesperson further said that Kjellberg’s channel has been removed from Google Preferred, which is how the platform handles premium advertising. The complete first season of the reality show is still available on YouTube Red for purchase.
The following statement comes from a Maker Representative in response to Variety. “Although Felix has created a following by being provocative and irreverent, he clearly went too far in this case and the resulting videos are inappropriate. Maker Studios has made the decision to end our affiliation with him going forward.”
Despite having over 50-million subscribers on YouTube, Kjellberg’s content may now be considered too toxic to other networks. Once the situation dies down, it will be interesting to see if Kjellberg censors his content and who picks up the channel along with its PR nightmare.
A major entertainment company is about to acquire Machinima, Inc’s slice of the YouTube gaming community. On Nov. 17, 2016 Warner Bros. officially announced that the company acquired full control of Machinima.
According to a report by Variety, Machinima will join Warner Bros. Digital Networks, a group of Warner Bros. digital media ventures. Warner Bros previously invested in Machinima, placing $18 million USD into the company in 2014 and $24 million in 2015. While the actual agreement between Warner Bros. and Machinima is not currently available, it seems Warner Bros. bought the company for “slightly under $100 million,” Variety reports.
The move isn’t a drastic change for Machinima, either. According to Machinima CEO Chad Gutstein, Warner Bros. “has been an active business partner in our transformation” since WB’s first investment in 2014, so the company certainly has strong prior experience working with the entertainment giant. Gutstein is excited by the prospect, too. “We’ll now be able to take full advantage of Warner Bros.’ intellectual property, sales and distribution, while still creating content for social and premium digital platforms that gamers and geeks love,” he said.
Warner Bros. sounds excited by the move as well. Warner Bros. Digital Networks President Craig Hunegs called Machinima “a strong gamer and fandom content and social brand” that shows “high engagement with audiences that play our games and are big fans of DC films and television shows.” Further involvement between DC and Machinima seems to be a given, with both parties encouraging the comic publisher’s role in the gaming company’s content as the transition continues. How that content will be added remains an open question, but regardless, it’s sure to be an interesting addition to an already-expansive deal.
Machinima has been a household name in gaming for years. Originally launched in 2000 by Hugh Hancock, Machinima has taken a strong hold of the let’s play and content production industry through sponsorships and hosting their own gaming network. The Warner Bros. acquisition taps into that market directly, suggesting that the entertainment giant will now have a solid foothold to work with in the YouTube gaming community.
Video content has been booming in the gaming community recently, with let’s players, reviewers, streamers and comedians turning to sites such as YouTube and Twitch to reach their fans. Of course, because of the informal nature that both of these platforms encourage, issues with private endorsements have arisen in recent years. In an attempt to push back against that issue, EA is requiring any content sponsored by the company to be disclosed explicitly, according to an official post by EA on their German site.
Originally covered on NeoGAF with translated information provided by user w3bba, the post notes that any user collaborating with EA for producing content must disclose their relationship with the publisher. Multimedia content producers can also use two new PNG labels created by the company to disclose their connection to EA. They read “Supported by EA” and “Advertisement,” both with the EA logo attached.
Disclosure comes in two forms. Content creators that receive some form of support from EA, such as press invitations or payment for travel, must include a “Supported by EA” watermark or “#supportedbyEA” hashtag. Meanwhile, content with EA’s direct influence is labeled as an advertisement and must be reported with the “Advertisement” watermark or “#advertisement” hashtag. This includes Instagram, Facebook and Twitter posts.
EA insists these disclosure terms reinforce their “Players First” motto, supporting transparency by allowing viewers to easily distinguish conflicts of interest at play. The watermark files are also easily available from EA on the post, giving content creators an approachable way to start disclosing their connections if they haven’t already. Analyst Daniel Ahmad pointed out that EA’s move takes a stand against the access gap in which “social media influencers” are given faster opportunities to play the latest releases before initial release hype cools off.
Great work by EA to be more transparent on sponsored content
Especially in this day and age when social media influencers have early access https://t.co/AemcStypwF
— Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) November 16, 2016
EA’s move towards explicit disclosure may cause a ripple effect in the industry, too. With press, publisher and developer relations remaining a hot button issue throughout the gaming community, EA’s move towards transparency may encourage other publishers to follow the company’s lead by creating their own ethics policies. Time will tell as German YouTubers, Twitch streamers and Twitter advertisers take their first steps towards disclosing their connections to EA.
In response to the growing disproval of the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare trailer, Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg addressed fans and investors in a hopeful statement.
After plenty of hype, rumours, and speculation, Call of Duty finally released an initial trailer for 2016’s Infinite Warfare. Going the exact opposite direction from what the fans want, the trailer was infinitely unsuccessful.
Wherever you would find Call of Duty discussions, you’d typically find three key requests: boots-on-the-ground-style combat, modern setting or earlier, and the then-rumoured Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare remaster to be available for purchase separately. Infinity Ward ignored their pleas: Infinite Warfare is set in the future, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered is exclusively bundled in the game’s Legacy Edition.
The majority of Call Of Duty fans expressed their desires for the franchise to go back to its roots instead of the futuristic CODs of late. Infinity Ward completely disregarded fans’ wishes, which triggered an extremely negative reaction from the Call of Duty community. Just how negative, exactly? In just three days, the trailer accumulated well over 355,000 dislikes on YouTube, and it’s probably much worse off as you’re reading this.
To put that in perspective, the trailer has roughly 540,000 total reactions, a culmination of both likes and dislikes. Of these, 185,000, or about 34 per cent of people liked the video, while the remaining 66 per cent disliked it. Now, let’s compare that to Activision’s 2015 COD title, Black Ops III. Of the roughly 473,000 reactions, the launch trailer has about 394,000 likes, with roughly 79,000 dislikes. This means about 83 per cent of fans liked the trailer, while only about 17 per cent disliked it.
For measure, the most disliked video currently on YouTube is Justin Bieber’s Baby, with about 6,050,000 dislikes. However, Bieber’s music video has been ripe for the disliking for over six years, while the Infinite Warfare trailer has been live for a matter of days. If the trailer were to keep up the current trend of about 100,000 dislikes per day (which it probably won’t- there will likely be a gradual decrease as the trailer loses the fans’ attention), it would knock Bieber out of the number one spot in just over two months.
Okay, maybe comparing the trailer to Bieber’s Baby is a bit of a stretch. After all, it’s currently the tenth most viewed YouTube video of all time. Hold your horses, though: Although Baby is the most disliked video of all time, it still maintains about 43 per cent approval. The video has about 4,505,000 likes among the total 10,570,000 reactions. You guessed it: that’s better than Infinite Warfare’s 34 per cent approval rate. Yikes.
Infinite Warfare probably won’t take the “YouTube’s Most Hated” crown from Baby – at least not any time soon. More realistically, the trailer will probably break into the top 25 most disliked YouTube videos of all time by the end of the week. In doing so, Infinite Warfare will have “no treble” stealing the 25
spot from Meghan Trainor’s All About That Bass, which currently has about 491,000 dislikes.
Fans have the amazing ability to make or break a game before it even exists – who would’ve thought, right? Look at Yooka-Laylee as an example: People wanted a nostalgia-infused 3D platformer to the tune of Banjo-Kazooie or Spyro the Dragon. The genre may not have seemed to be in huge demand, nor have a large or profitable following, but Playtonic Games wanted to cater to said community anyway. The team, a group of ex-Rare developers, offered Yooka-Laylee as a spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie through Kickstarter. Long story short, more than 73,000 people pledged money to the idea – that’s right, just an idea of an unfinished game that wouldn’t release for well over a year – raising almost $4,000,000 CAD in just a few months. How’s that for a dead genre?
On the flip side, sometimes fans don’t give new ideas a chance. Pigeonholing developers can often be artistically restrictive and dissuade them from trying new, innovative things. Metroid Prime: Federation Force didn’t deliver the Metroid game fans wanted and on it’s E3 trailer, the game was disliked almost 87,000. That’s about 90 per cent of the total number of reactions on that video. So few people support the idea of a new spin on the Metroid series, which could prove to be a remarkable success – but fans won’t give it a shot.
The point is, happy fans make a successful game, no matter the genre. Behind all the numbers and statistics is one infinitely upset community – and it’s not the minority, either. Sooner or later, major developers like Infinity Ward will need to listen to fans to avoid their wrath. Regardless of the reason(s) behind each dislike, Infinity Ward has clearly done something wrong this year. The fans have spoken, and Infinity Ward has about six months to prove they’re listening. Although the game’s mechanics and setting are probably already set in stone, it isn’t too late for the developer listen to the community’s plea for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered to be released as a standalone title.
Bethesda has officially announced that the next chapter Arkane Studios’ stealth-action series, Dishonored 2, will be coming worldwide to PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on November 11.
Today, Google is making the YouTube Gaming mobile app available here in Canada for both iOS and Android.
It’s a bold move for anyone to side-step from a lucrative career into independent game development. With the saturation of independent games on the market in this particular climate, it’s an extremely risky move. But that need to spread one’s wings, expand creatively and take that chance is certainly something to admire. Brent Black, (aka “Brentalfloss”), the popular YouTube personality most noted for his series of videos, With Lyrics, is willing to do just that. After having built a reputable following by setting lyrics to classic videogame themes such as Earthbound, Megaman 2, and Donkey Kong Country, Brent is ready to try something new. He is looking to use the talents and skills he’s acquired over years from making music and producing YouTube videos, to foray into the world of indie game development with his new party game Use Your Words.
This isn’t the first time Brent has diverged from the world of Brentalfloss to venture more deeply into the gaming industry. In the past, he has written scores for several indie games such as Default Dan by Kikiwik Games, although things didn’t go as planned, exactly. This time, he’s teamed up with veteran indie game developer Julian Spillane, formerly of Silicon Knights and currently Director of Product Development at PopReach to have another go at making his way in the gaming industry.
CGM had an opportunity to speak with Brentalfloss during a recent visit to Toronto. He gave us some insight as to his motivation behind the project and where his ambitions lie as he takes this next step.
Comics & Gaming Magazine: What lead to the transition from the popular Brentalfloss into video game development?
Brent Black: What lead to it, really, is I kept on kicking at that cocoon trying to find different things. This to me feels like, potentially, the perfect way to combine natural talent, things that I was trained with in school, and the things that I’ve learned on the job doing YouTube stuff, particularly in a gaming setting.
I think I’ve been trying to find a way in the last five years to branch out. As an artist (which is a very pretentious term), you don’t want to feel like you’re making the same thing every day. I like the idea of a new challenge and a new journey.
I’ve tried video game composing and recording audio books, and it was fun to branch out and do different projects. With video game development, I felt like I could do what I set out to do growing up, which is storytelling, working with music, and comedy. But this way, I can make it interactive.
CGM: Why now?
BB: Over the years, I’ve had lots of ideas for video games I’d like to make. I’d pitch a concept to some developer I know, and they’d say, “sure, but that would be a $50 million game”. This is the first time I’ve had an idea that we could make on a small budget with a small team. When my friend, Julian Spillane, saw the concept he said, “let’s make this game”. That’s a very different thing than Julian’s ever said to me. In the past, Julian’s been, like, “sure, but that game will just be way too expensive to make”. Or, “you’d need 50 people to make that game”. The fact that he went straight to, “let’s make this game”, that was huge.
CGM: And you have had experience with games in the past, writing music for games. Why didn’t you pursue that aspect of game development?
BB: Basically I couldn’t make it a business model that worked. The long and short of it is, I got to a point where my overhead doing Brentalfloss was high. Living in New York City adds to that, and so I realized that if I really wanted to be a videogame composer I’d have to go and live cheaply for years while I paid my dues, because of the kind of scores I’d want to write. I’d like to write the next Final Fantasy score; I’d like to write the next Mario score, the next Zelda score. Nobody gets to write that on day one. I realized that I was a little too far along in my career to make a choice to climb all the way up that ladder.
But the nice thing about doing videogame development is that if there were room in a game for the kind of music that I’ve always wanted to write, it wouldn’t be hard to do so if I wanted to. I’m hoping that I’ll have more freedom to do the kind of stuff I want to do and not slog away on other people’s projects. But we’ll see. There is a ladder in everything, and we’ll see what the ladder is like in videogame development.
CGM: So tell us about the game you guys are currently working on.
BB: Ok. It’s called Use Your Words. I was kind of inspired by the technology of the Jackbox Party Pack, which is a suite of games that use a phone or a tablet with your TV. But I was really taken aback when I was in a hotel at a convention and I, on the hotel Wi-Fi, could play a board game with my TV and my phone. I was blown away! I love party games, and I’ve always wanted to make the ultimate comedy party game. I realized that if I used similar technology I could make a better game than would have been made in board game form.
Basically, it’s like a free-form comedy game. It’s a game for funny people and their unfunny friends. In various mini-game modes, you fill in the blank response to a phrase that game gives you. Maybe it’s “all the king’s horses and all the king’s men, _____________.” You can write something like, “surely had something better to do”. You text whatever you like as a response to the TV, and everything people wrote anonymously shows up. If anyone in the group is halfway funny, everybody laughs and picks their favorite answer to award points.
There are other modes of the game besides that. There’s also a hashtag game, where you get a hashtag like “dirty Dr. Seuss titles” or “ineffective safe words” and you write an example of that. When it reveals the answers, it looks like a twitter feed. There’s a mode called “Captionista” where you write a newspaper headline for a funny picture. And the fourth mode, which is the hardest to program (but I think is unique), is called, “Sub the Title”. You’re given a short foreign film clip, and you get the subtitle for the first line of dialogue, but the second line of dialogue is left blank. You get to write it. It’s the same concept. Everyone laughs and has a good time.
It’s really just a game about providing a platform, and providing a software solution to a thing that happens naturally; which is people getting together, making jokes and riffing on things. We’re just facilitating that. If people are laughing then the game is working.
CGM: Do you think your Brentalfloss fans will be receptive of this videogame? Will they be stuck on the familiarity of Brentalfloss or will they welcome it?
BB: I think that sometimes, for whatever reason, a product or brand inherently has its own demographic, and that has been clear with my podcast that I’m currently doing called Trends like These. There are some Brentalfloss fans who listen to Trends like These, and then there are the people who don’t listen to Brentalfloss but like Trends like These because it’s a different side of me. I think the game will be similar since my sense of humor pervades everything that I do. If people are Brentalfloss fans they’re bound to enjoy that aspect of the game like the subversive comedy, making fun of things for the sake of having fun, the giggling, laughing, goofy humor.
CGM: So if this becomes successful, is that the end of Brentalfloss?
BB: Not at all. Will it be a little bit less of a focus for my career if my videogame aspirations are achieved? Well, you know, I’ll have to go where the wind takes me. But I’m never going to turn my back on the Brentalfloss fans or the brand concept. It’s not going anywhere.
CGM: What happens if this is a colossal failure?
BB: Well, here’s the thing. The only way it could be a colossal failure is if we over-hype, over-sell and over-fund it. We have a prototype already, and people can play it and laugh their [faces] off. So as far as I’m concerned, we have this unpolished gem. All we have to do is refine and polish it. Now that doesn’t mean it’s going to be a phenomenon. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be the next Cards against Humanity. I feel like, by my standards, we’ve already made a game that’s fun. The only way it could be a colossal failure is if we made a colossal misstep.
That said, let’s just say the circumstances required to cause a colossal failure of this game occur. I’d probably pick myself up, dust myself off. Do some Brentalfloss videos and try something else. I’ve made Brentalfloss videos that were extremely hyped up that were fairly floppy. I feel like I’ll always have the “With Lyrics” series as a flagship brand, and also my main source of income to go back to and invest in, whenever I’m unsure what to do. But just because this game’s a colossal failure doesn’t mean another idea that I would have would be. It would just make it harder to do because people would go “Well the only game you ever did was a failure”.
It comes down to what’s your measure of success. To me, if nobody loses money on this game and now people can say, “I played that game that Brentalfloss made, it’s really fun!” Then anything above that is just excess success.
CGM: If this becomes successful, where do you see your future in game development going?
BB: I think that I am the right person to make a videogame that is a musical. Musical theatre pervades English-speaking culture, and it’s one of my favourite forms of storytelling. I believe there’s a way, and I’m working pretty hard on this behind the scenes right now, to make it where you’re playing a game and instead of stopping for a number, the songs are the game. How to do that? Well, I’m working on that. My aspirations are no less than creating a new genre of videogame. Will it happen? I don’t know, but I’ve got to try.
CGM: This direction of going to game development seems like something you really want to push.
BB: Yes. I haven’t been so vocal about it because I don’t want to be the Brentalfloss that “cried wolf.” In the past, I’ve said, “guys! I’m a game composer now”, and that was like me boldly proclaiming a thing that turned out to be true for a few months but wasn’t a new career path. I don’t want to unleash this thing on my audience and be like “guys, here’s what I do now”, because nobody likes to hear that anyway. What I’d rather do is say, “Hey guys, I’m working on this game, and you can check out a video of me playing it”. If they like it from that, then it turns out I was giving them what they wanted all along, which is video content; I’m passionate about it. I won’t blindly charge into these projects if I’ve been told by people who know better that they’re not going to work, but there are times in my life where if people burst my bubble, it just makes me more powerful.
In a recent tweet by the Youtube game critic, Totalbiscuit has announced he has been diagnosed with liver cancer.