YouTube Gaming's Short Term Memory Strikes Again

YouTube Gaming's Short Term Memory Strikes Again

THIS WEEK IN BUSINESS | YouTube's latest exclusivity deal is a reminder that it will choose money over not giving racism a platform every chance it gets.

Last month, GamesIndustry.biz's Rebekah Valentine wrote a sharp editorial for the site about NASCAR racer Kyle Larson, and how his casual use of a racial slur during the broadcast of an online racing event had resulted in his team and many of his sponsors cutting ties with him. NASCAR itself suspended him indefinitely.

She contrasted the treatment of Larson to the way the games industry and its various platform holders treat racist acts by celebrities on their platforms. The answer is usually with a slap on the wrist, followed by a welcome return to business as usual. Because these people have followings that love them despite (or because of) their offensive humor and prejudiced perspectives, the industry intentionally keeps a very short memory of their actions.

So this week, let's do something a little different and refresh that memory instead.

QUOTE | "I couldn't be more thrilled to continue to grow our roster of creators who are making our platform their exclusive live streaming home to bring fans around the world even more of what they love." - YouTube head of gaming Ryan Wyatt, on the video platform's recent livestreaming exclusivity deal with Felix "PewDiePie" Kjellberg.

QUOTE | "Death to all Jews." - A sign Kjellberg paid two men to hold up while smiling and dancing for a bit on his YouTube channel in January of 2017. He paid another man to dress up as Jesus and hold a sign reading, "Hitler did nothing wrong."

QUOTE | "We've decided to cancel the release of Scare PewDiePie Season 2 and we're removing the PewDiePie channel from Google Preferred." - YouTube, in the aftermath of that video and a Wall Street Journal report on Kjellberg's pattern of anti-Semitic humor, partially distances itself from the star. The incident also prompted the company to overhaul its "brand-safety controls" to clean up monetized videos on the site.

QUOTE | "I didn't mean that in a bad way." - Kjellberg, in September of 2017, after dropping the n-word while streaming PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.

QUOTE | "[He] does great video essays. He did one on Death Note, which I really, really enjoyed." - Kjellberg, in 2018, gives a shout out to an anti-Semitic YouTuber. He later called it an "oopsie" in a video, "not because I have a problem with Nazi references being offensive in themselves, but because I said publicly a year and a half ago that I was going to distance myself from Nazi jokes and that kind of stuff."

QUOTE | "Remember lads, subscribe to PewDiePie." - The shooter in the Christchurch massacre, in March of 2019, to an audience watching live on the internet, just before he killed 51 people.

QUOTE | "Making a donation to the ADL doesn't make sense to everyone, especially since they've outright spoken against me. I think it's important, this just isn't my fight anymore." - Kjellberg, in an attempt to make amends and "move on" after the shooting, pledged to donate $50,000 to the Anti-Defamation League.

QUOTE | "It really doesn't feel genuine for me to proceed with the donation at this point." - Kjellberg, later that same week, explains why he was not going to donate the money after all. He explained that he "didn't know a lot of things that surfaced throughout this whole thing about the charity that doesn't fit at all," without elaborating on what those things were.

QUOTE | "I still make kind of stupid jokes that I shouldn't make, but I feel like back then I didn't understand. I was so immature, and I just thought things were funny just because they were offensive. So I would say a lot of stupid shit. I'm not proud of it, I'm really not. But I'm also glad that I've grown past it." - Kjellberg, expressing embarrassment and regret over his past behavior and promising to turn over a new leaf. This was back in 2016, before any of the other quotes in this column.

There we go. Now that we're all back up to speed, let's stop giving this dude heaps of money and an ever-bigger stage from which to say profoundly dumb and harmful things. Cool? Cool.

Okay, back to your regularly scheduled column:

STAT | 13.4 million - Copies of Animal Crossing: New Horizons sold in the six weeks following its launch. It is the best-selling game ever in the series and the fastest-selling Switch game to date.

QUOTE | "If you are going into fetish-like detail about military buttons and great coats, then also show how cold the soldiers got, how hungry they are. Don't pick and choose just the bits you 'need.'" - Aardman's George Rowe, producer on the World War I narrative game 11-11: Memories Retold, was one of several developers who shared their thoughts on how to respectfully portray war in a video game, if such a thing is even possible.

QUOTE | "As soon as I did that, it was actually easier to get contracts signed, because I think that it was like we weren't taking ourselves seriously before, and people were like, 'Why are you coming to me with this paltry amount of money?' Once I started to pitch at a level where we have something that is a living wage for everyone, publishers and platforms saw that we're serious now." - Necrosoft's Brandon Sheffield says his mistake with publishers was not asking for more money.

QUOTE | "For the companies who care a lot about having control over their IP, I think it's fascinating that none of them proactively invest in controlling that on the music side. Because by saying: 'No, we don't want to put this out,' it gives up control. It has this counterintuitive effect." - Sebastian Wolff, co-founder of Loudr and owner of Materia Collective, says companies like Nintendo are hurting their own interests by not releasing more official game soundtracks and driving up the bootleg market.

QUOTE | "I think this could be a $100 million company down the way," he says. "I won't be here, but I'll be cheering from Heaven while I'm playing golf."- MicroProse co-founder John Wilbur "Wild Bill" Stealey is back and helping build an all simulation game developer with the same name.

QUOTE | "We also saw continued momentum for World of Warcraft and better-than-expected results for other key franchises, as populations sheltering at home turned to our content for entertainment and social connection. These trends have continued so far in the second quarter, with business momentum accelerating further in April." - Activision Blizzard says the pandemic-related performance boost it observed in its financials for the March quarter was even more pronounced in April.

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Brendan Sinclair

North American Editor

Brendan joined GamesIndustry International in 2012. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he was previously senior news editor at CBS-owned GameSpot in the US.

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