YouTubers Say They Can’t Make Money Covering Call Of Duty: WWII

YouTubers Say They Can’t Make Money Covering Call Of Duty: WWII

Since March, YouTubers have watched their revenue plummet as advertisers bleed out of the platform. Some videos containing violence, real or fictional, are considered “inappropriate for advertising”. First-person shooter Call of Duty, a massively popular game on YouTube, is no walk in the park. So the huge community that’s formed around it is getting hit by widespread demonetisation.

Call of Duty: WWII

After Activision announced upcoming Call of Duty title Call of Duty: WWII last week, the community’s financial problems took a turn for the worse. Viewers and fans want to hear about the next CoD game, but as a result of its WWII theme, YouTubers are risking demonetisation by talking about it.

PrestigeIsKey, a Call of Duty YouTuber with over a million subscribers, published a video on Sunday about how his channel is struggling with demonetisation. “At first,” he said, “I thought this wouldn’t affect gamers because, obviously, video games aren’t real.” Throughout his seven years making CoD content on YouTube, he’d never had an issue until recently. Months ago, when the demonetisation crisis was in full swing, his channel suffered enormously because it depicts fictional war.

Now that he’s trying to cover the news of the upcoming World War II-themed Call of Duty game, his channel is financially gutted. In the week since WWII was announced, YouTube demonetised several of his videos (I saw an ad on his video about CoD:WWII‘s movement mechanics). “My WWII zombie-related videos have been taken down,” he said. “I’ve had videos demonetised because of ‘depictions of war’, even though it’s Advanced Warfare and I’m talking about WWII, or I’m showing gameplay of CoD: WWII. It’s like, are games really lookin’ that good nowadays?”

Across YouTube, ads have stopped appearing on some videos with “vulgar language”, “disasters and tragedies”, sexually suggestive content, or “subjects related to war”. That’s because, after the Wall Street Journal reported on ads appearing on racist videos, advertisers like AT&T pulled YouTube ads en masse. To get them back, in March, YouTube introduced “brand safety controls”. Advertisers could choose to avoid “higher risk content”, like anything referencing marijuana. Channels as big as PewDiePie and H3H3Productions say they have been making way less money in comparison to their earnings from earlier this year. (YouTubers can appeal demonetisation.)

When asked about whether ad-friendly filters can tell the difference between real and video game violence, a YouTube representative referred me to a blog about how YouTube’s having more positive conversations with advertisers.

To make money again, YouTube suggests making more advertiser-friendly content. For YouTubers like ChaosXSilencer, who’s been making CoD videos for five years, rebranding his channel is out of the question: His fans come for the first-person shooters. Before he carved out a full-time job on YouTube, he ran a Papa Johns in Arkansas and, before now, he’d never had any financial problems making a living on YouTube. The Call of Duty community, he says, is having a lot of issues — and especially now that the big story is CoD: WWII.

“It’s a mature game,” ChaosXSilencer said, but he thinks that the last week’s especially bad demonetisation issues “might have to do with how the next CoD title is WWII. People put that in the title tag and I don’t know whether YouTube can differentiate it from real-life ‘crisis’. It’s not ad-friendly.”

ChaosXSilencer said that it’s risky to cover the new CoD title, even though it’s what viewers want. PrestigeIsKey tried an experiment where he made a two-minute video about how his milk expired and compared it to one about the upcoming CoD game. The milk video didn’t get half as much watch time or a third as many views, allegedly earning four times more money.

YouTube would not confirm or deny whether Call of Duty YouTubers are disproportionately affected by the demonetisation wave. Anecdotally, it seems to be a major issue throughout the community. CoD YouTubers feed their families on this money. It’s their trade. Call of Duty YouTuber 402THUNDER402 doesn’t pity his peers, though. In a recent video about ad-friendly content, he said, “The party is over. I hope YouTubers saved your money.” He thinks it’s stupid for CoD YouTubers to depend exclusively on YouTube.

Now, some might have to leave the platform and pursue another line of work. In the comments of his recent video, PrestigeIsKey referred fans to his Patreon page. “If it comes down to it I will have to put YT in the background while making sure to support my family,” he said.


  • Unless you do Patreon, you really are at the whim of the advertising dollar.

    Can’t blame the advertisers, can’t blame Youtube, just have to adapt.

  • Well, everyone prob should of seen this coming. There will be a period of knee jerk reaction from YouTube because of the advertising dollars at risk. Then things will most likely settle down with some reshaping of the landscape inevitable but I don’t think it will be as severe or long lasting as these you tubers are making out.

    • I think you might be right. At the end of the day, the advertisers will advertise where there are the most people watching.

      • Although they might be a little wary of advertising on videos which might get them slammed for ‘supporting offensive content’. Obviously the racist videos used in examples provided by the infamous WSJ articles are no-brainers, but will ‘violent video games’ count? Especially when it includes the mainstream juggernaut that is CoD?

        • I reckon its the seagull effect. If there’s a squashed chip on the ground the flock will swarm, no matter how many times you shoo it away. The moment your attention wanders… they’re back!

        • I saw a good post from someone who worked in advertising (Can’t remember where it was), essentially saying that their research shows that it’s not all to do with whether the content is offensive, but it has a fair bit to do with what impact the content has on the users. Viewers who view non-offensive content that gets them upset, feeling down, or angry at something or the other (Even if it’s just a video outlining what’s wrong with xyz system or something) are a lot less likely to buy their products, and therefore a lot less valuable as people eyes to the ads. On the other hand, content that left the viewers feeling happy and upbeat was more valuable as something to attach advertising to.

          However, it’s kind of really hard for automated systems to classify a video on whether it makes someone happy or sad, so for the advertisers, steering clear of topics that would usually have a negative impact on viewers is better in a business sense

  • The pendulum will swing back again soon enough.
    Advertisers will see certain videos generating thousands/millions of views and will want a piece of that audience.

  • How do you make money off a COD channel? Do you just pump out trash or have a bajillion subs?

    Wow, they have announced the new COD
    Here are my thoughts on the trailer
    Wow some new details
    Beta is coming
    Beta is out, here I am playing it.
    ITS OUT!!!
    Various videos of me talking about different guns/levels or whatever and playing some diff modes
    Repeat for DLC

    And that is enough to support you till the next one?

    • basically its that, but done as a 9-5 job, its the same with twitch stream, you start at x and finish at y monday-friday all thw while just playing nonstop with exceptions for lunch/dinner and toilet breaks

    • There is an infamous R6 Siege personality that contantly makes videos for even the least important things (devs took photos in ano ther country, must mean something ) or steals ideas from reddit posts word for word; so that he can push out three filler episodes a day.

      People are cancer.

  • what ever happened to getting a real job?

    I dont understand the whining that you cant make money off another companies IP.

    Self-entitled millennials these days

    • That’s why they are whining, they will have to find a ‘real’ job now that they can’t get money as easily through youtube. I guess now it’s harder to become popular enough to make a living out of it.
      Good thing by me. No one should see youtube as a viable career and drop everything else for it. Same goes with streaming. It should start as a hobby and then if you become big enough then maybe make it a career.

      • For all the YouTubers / streamers etc it started as a hobby and they got big enough to earn a living from it. So they’ve already done what you said they “should”.

        For people watching it may not seem like much effort to record yourself playing a game and throw it out there but there’s a lot of time behind the scenes that goes into it. I did YouTube myself for 3 years as a hobby. I was just a small channel with a few hundred subs but even at that low level myself and all the other small youtubers I made videos with put in tremendous amounts of effort to ensure quality and content people would want to watch.

        It’s so much harder than it looks. I eventually gave it up because it was less fun to play games when I was always considering what/when I could record and how to plan things to make it as entertaining as possible. It also took up way too much of my spare time.

    • I think that some of the creators have a right to complain (not these kinds, but instead independent journalists and the like). Youtube is literally the best platform for real budding jounalists to start.

    • Creating content that people obviously want to watch is as real as any other job. As long as you’re getting paid.

      • That is not the gripe.

        It is complaining that your are being shafted because you can’t profit off someone else IP.
        Its an entitled view point that is repugnant and whats worse is how prevalent it is.

        • It’s actually being a parasite. Literally. Blows my mind that full grown adults waste their time watching this stuff.

          And then the creators COMPLAIN that they’re not getting paid. Wow. Just wow.

        • Just like movie reviewers… and game reviewers. In case you missed it Kotaku “profits off of someone else IP” by covering games and games news that people want to see. I don’t see how doing it through YouTube as a sole entity is any different.

  • I have a CoD WWII video up atm with 600k views that made forty dollars. It should have made 400.

    • Can i ask what the video is about or a link to it?

      I’m curious to see what constitutes a video that is worth 400.

      I guess my gripe is, if you can’t make it off the back of IP belonging to a successful franchise, then maybe its time to think of original content? – i doubt it would hit the 600k views though.

  • It’s almost like making youtube videos is not really a legit job.

    And it’s way overdone. I wanted to watch the new battlefront 2 trailer, and the amount of videos that were up about it, with official in the title, was just ridiculous. It was actually really hard to find the actual video.

    So I went to the EA site instead.

    • Thats like ebay atm, throw in as many tags to the title for hits.
      So frustrating.. then the multitude of clones with slightly different names and or prices, just like youtube

      • And you’re like “Yeah, this is the video!” and some annoying dumbarse starts screeching over the top talking about how hyped he is and what he’s seen in the trailer. The trailer that I’m literally trying to watch right now, that he’s talking over.

        It’s the dumbest thing in the world. It’s amazing that people can actually get paid for it.

  • This is the worst thing that has ever happened. Oh my god I can’t believe YouTube and Advertisers would cripple the income of these hardworking talented and creative people.

    I really hope more of them start up a Patreon, If they can’t afford their weekly hot pocket rations then how else am I meant to see a game played? Pick up a controller? What are we? Animals?

    Give what you can people!

  • Still don’t understand why people wanna watch annoying people play games instead of just playing the game.

    • Believe it or not sometimes it’s more entertaining to watch the game than play it. Other times you’re also playing it but want to see how others are going. The way youtuber/streamers relate to their audience also makes them feel closer than some random stranger so it’s more like watching a friend play.

      I mainly watch multiplayer games that are more fun to play with friends than solo. Most of my gaming other than MMOs is solo as my group of gaming friends are rarely available at the same time. By watching the videos I still get to experience the excitement of the game and it isn’t boring as hell like it would be if I was walking around solo.

      Other games I try myself but find them less fun to play than to watch. The most recent of that is Flinthook. The game seemed fun when I watched some videos, tried it for myself and absolutely hated the control scheme. I don’t like fighting the game to make the character move where I want them to. The challenge should be in overcoming the obstacles…not overcoming the poor control scheme. But I enjoy the premise of the game and everything else about it so I watch someone else play it instead.

  • A temporary solution is simple. Make a safe short, nonsense, video (Say about milk going bad), and get your viewers to watch that as well as your actual content update.

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