PewDiePie is famed for his over-the-top reactions to horror games. But that's PewDiePie from 2012. PewDiePie from 2015? It takes more than a cheap jump scare to rile him up — and this reality is causing some friction with fans.
Like many gaming YouTubers, PewDiePie uploaded a Five Nights at Freddy's 4 video last month. Titled "FIVE NIGHTS AT FREDDY'S 4 — NOT SCARY?," the video starts out with PewDiePie sarcastically going, "Oh boy am I excited," right before closing up on his nonplussed expression. These few seconds tell you just about everything you need to know about this video, where PewDiePie is clearly not impressed with the latest horror game craze:
He doesn't even emote when the animatronics jump out at him. Look at this:
No flying off his chair, no high-pitched scream, no signs of being overtaken by terror. "If you've played the first three games, you're practically immune to the jump scares by now," PewDiePie explained.
To be clear: I am not suggesting that PewDiePie has to shit his pants over Five Nights At Freddy's. But, based on his usual flare, some fans do expect PewDiePie to put on a show for them, regardless of how he actually feels about the game. To wit, last week PewDiePie wrote a blog post defending himself from criticism about the FNAF video, and it's been making the rounds in the FNAF community since.
He calls this video his "worst" one — at least, based on ratings from viewers. As of this writing, it has 12,977 "thumbs down." After the video first uploaded, you could even read comments from fans who seemed disappointed that PewDiePie wasn't phased by Five Nights at Freddy's. "Dude at least pretend to be scared," one commenter wrote.
"A lot of people know me on YouTube as being easily scared," PewDiePie wrote. "So of course people want to see me play the game to see me get scared.
"That's not what they got, so they dislike the video," he reasoned.
This reception makes sense to PewDiePie. What seems to puzzle him the most, though, is the expectation that he would fake his reactions for the sake of expectant fans. He notes that while he thinks this path would be a sure-fire way to get "more views," that the trade-off just wouldn't be worth it to him. He'd rather show people how he really feels.
This isn't the first time PewDiePie has expressed scepticism around Five Nights at Freddy's — while he makes it clear that he is a fan of earlier games, that hasn't stopped him from making fun of the hype surrounding FNAF. Despite his ennui, fans do expect him to play through the games. In the blog post where he defends himself, PewDiePie shared a screenshot of over a dozen people begging him to play the latest FNAF game. He notes that this puts him in a tight spot. If he plays the game and dislikes it, fans wonder why he bothers with games he doesn't enjoy. If he skips the game, he has people getting upset because he didn't play it. What to do?
Despite the backlash, I'm actually pretty impressed with PewDiePie's willingness to be honest here. It would be easy to play into the Five Nights at Freddy's hype — that's what most people are doing. Five Nights at Freddy's videos sometimes seem like a race to see who can react in the most ridiculous way.
[Here's a GIF of popular Youtuber Markiplier, who had a very different take on FNAF 4. Looking at the rest of the top FNAF 4 videos on YouTube, most seem to endorse the game's so-called big scares.]
Even PewDiePie admits to a shift in the nature of his horror videos. "To be honest, I'm kinda proud of myself for not bullshitting myself through the game for fan pleasing and views," PewDiePie wrote. "Not sure if 2012 PDP would have done the same."
I know first-hand that the games are capable of delivering a scare, even if it's a forced one. But on some level, there's this worry that many Five Nights at Freddy's reaction videos are just a show, or an affectation that an entertainer puts on. That's what people want to see, isn't it? When I witness people turning on a YouTuber for not delivering on that front, it makes me wonder how many other YouTubers might feel prisoner to fan expectation. Can you always trust the hype, or is this heightened enthusiasm for big games the norm on YouTube? Hard to say. Perhaps this is a sign that the Five Nights at Freddy's bubble is about to pop, and it's only a matter of time before YouTubers turn on the franchise.
"Fear of the unknown if the biggest key to horror and that's gone [in Five Nights at Freddy's]" PewDiePie remarked. "What's left?"