Felix Kjellberg is a jokester, and that sense of humour has helped him build the biggest empire on YouTube. But at the end of a recent video titled "DELETING MY CHANNEL AT 50 MILLION", the Swedish superstar gets serious.
"I will delete my channel once Pewdiepie hits 50 million," Kjellberg declares, with a completely straight face. "I think it's gonna be pretty fun, I'm excited to delete my channel and start fresh with a new shitty channel probably. I won't quit YouTube, I'll just delete the channel."
The announcement happens at the very end of a 10 minute video where Kjellberg talks about the recent YouTube controversy involving the mysterious loss of subscribers and views, an issue which is affecting many top YouTubers at the moment. (YouTube, for its part, denies that there's anything out of the ordinary going on right now.)
Multiple times, Kjellberg notes that YouTube is "killing" his channel, and that overall, videos which have historically been popular for him are suddenly underperforming for no apparent reason. So, in an effort to beat YouTube to the punch, he says he's going to just get rid of the channel once and for all.
...allegedly. Pewdiepie has claimed that he's going to do this before:
I've decided I'm deleting my channel at 50 million.
— pewdiepie (@pewdiepie) November 29, 2016
But with Kjellberg, you never can tell. He follows swearing that he's completely serious with screams that fans should "bop" that subscribe button. We reached out to Maker Studios to clarify, and will update if we hear back. For now, Kjellberg's fans don't know what to make of his announcement. Many top comments assume this is nothing but clickbait:
Others, however, are taking Kjellberg's statements at face value:
Kjellberg's proposed stunt doesn't seem completely unbelievable. Recently, Kjellberg made a troll channel called Jack septiceye2, based, obviously, on the green-haired Irish YouTuber. Despite uploading a single video within the last few weeks, the channel has already accrued over 1.4 million subscribers. With proper maintenance and enough promotion, it probably wouldn't be difficult for Kjellberg to build a healthy second channel with millions of subscribers.
Over the last year, the Pewdiepie channel has also had an underlying friction, as Kjellberg slowly distances himself from many of the things that made him famous. He's doing fewer Let's Plays of horror games like Amnesia, and the ones he does play, he doesn't necessarily play up the scare factor. Over and over, comments will tell him that they miss the old Pewdiepie -- the childish one, who liked making crass sex jokes and always went for the low-hanging fruit.
The Pewdiepie of 2016 can still be immature, sure, but he's also just as likely to get very real. A defining aspect of recent Pewdiepie videos is existential angst, as he describes the bleak reality of making #content for a machine he cannot fully control or understand.
"I think the thing is that I have a lot of younger audience [members], and I think my humour got drier, and they don't get it," Kjellberg said.
Instead of continually fighting against an audience that no longer understands him, wouldn't it just make more sense to start over? I can picture a Pewdiepie-less world easily, even if it means we lose the biggest channel on YouTube. Plus, Kjellberg has been expanding to other ventures recently, including game development and YouTube Red shows.
Or maybe Kjellberg is just pulling everyone's leg. Guess we're going to find out soon: Pewdiepie is currently sitting on a little over 49 million subscribers.