Right now, gaming is the biggest thing on YouTube. Gaming channels are the most popular by far. For example, Pewdiepie has over 40 million subscribers however his brand of YouTube gaming does not reflect the growth which has enabled him to net over $12 million a year.
Back during the time of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009/10), I, along with thousands, if not more, was a frequent YouTube viewer and aspiring YouTuber. What drew myself and millions of others in was Call of Duty. And why not? They had successive hit titles; Modern Warfare, World at War, Modern Warfare 2, Black Ops, and Modern Warfare 3. I would pick up and play any of these titles today in a heartbeat even though I’ve outgrown my overwhelming affinity for the series.
During this period of games, Call of Duty was everywhere on YouTube. It propelled the gaming scene to the front pages, spawning many personalities; including SeaNanners, Woody’s Gamertag, TmarTn, Hutch, and so on. The rise felt meteoric looking back and it’s a period I think about with much nostalgia and happiness. I would complete a day at school, come home, play some Call of Duty and watch some Call of Duty on YouTube. So would all my friends. It was so ingrained in our lives, and the lives of many others that it, as mentioned, helped force gaming into the limelight; it became mainstream. It’s not alone in this; other games helped, however my experience surrounded this series.
Gaming was so popular on YouTube and in social circles, in-part, because of Call of Duty. I remember buying a capture card off eBay and recording some gameplay in stunning 360p so I could call myself a YouTuber and be a part of that community further. Call of Duty’s dominance would only last so long as the mainstream audience, including myself, moved on. We got older and lost some interest in the series and the new YouTube-obsessed generations didn’t seek out Call of Duty as we had. Instead, they found a predilection for games such as Minecraft and Garry’s Mod, and many other games in-between. However, Call of Duty managed to start the revolution. It not only contributed to making gaming the potent force it is on YouTube today, it spawned a new breed of YouTubers who carry on pushing the medium out of social obscurity and into mainstream.
Call of Duty no longer makes YouTubers and it’s not what most kids and teenagers want to watch after school anymore. That role is filled by a revolving door of games but Call of Duty’s reign was unique and probably changed gaming forever by pushing it to the front of YouTube and creating a culture amongst teens, many of whom are now adults, that surpassed the platform.