Children and adults alike aren’t just playing Minecraft in their millions: they’re watching YouTube videos made using Minecraft – and those videos are racking up billions of views.
Now online video firm Octoly has published a report aiming to quantify that, claiming that by June 2014, Minecraft videos had been watched 30.8 billion times, with only 183 million of those views coming from the channel of Mojang, the game’s publisher.
That’s nearly three times the total views for videos about Grand Theft Auto, which Octoly estimated was the second most popular gaming brand on YouTube with nearly 12 billion views, ahead of Call of Duty (10.2 billion), Angry Birds (six billion) and Halo (4.8 billion).
The company claims that since June, Minecraft videos have been watched another 16 billion times, taking its total to 47 billion views. “In June, our Octoly360 system found 81,000 separate YouTube creators talking about Minecraft,” explained Octoly. “Today there are 147,000 creator channels with Minecraft videos, almost double.”
Minecraft being so far ahead of rival brands will not come as a surprise to anyone who’s been following the game and/or the evolution of YouTube over the last couple of years.
In a chart of the top 100 YouTube channels in September 2014 published by industry site Tubefilter, using data from analytics firm OpenSlate, child-friendly Minecraft channel Stampy was the third biggest channel in the world with 189.6 million views that month.
Also popular that month were channels with a heavy or total Minecraft focus including Vegetta (eighth in the world with 164 million views in September) and The Diamond Minecart (10th with 161.8 million).
Mojang has supported its YouTube community since the early days of Minecraft, avoiding copyright arguments with video creators, and taking a hands-off approach to the content of their videos.
“We have a whole slew of people who are making their entire living just off making videos about Minecraft. Just the economics of that – how many people are making a living off this one IP – is pretty awesome,” Mojang’s chief operating officer Vu Bui told the Guardian in October.
“That doesn’t take anything away from us, and I would say it actually adds value to Minecraft, to have people who are extremely talented and creative doing things. We’ve essentially outsourced YouTube videos to a community of millions of people, and what they come up with is more creative than anything we could make ourselves.”
YouTube is a big part of the reason why Minecraft is such a strong, well-loved gaming brand in 2014 – and it’s also a notable factor in Microsoft’s decision to buy Mojang for $2.5bn this summer.
Microsoft isn’t just buying a popular game that’s sold more than 54m copies across computer, console and mobile: it’s buying one of the world’s biggest television brands. Despite the fact that it’s huge popularity is online, rather than on traditional television.