The video game industry is a juggernaut that dwarfs the movie industry. If you don’t believe me, tickle the keyboard on Google and have a look. As our entertainment desires evolve, so do the ways that we consume coverage of that entertainment. Enter content creators like MMOByte, who devote countless hours, researching, writing, reading, and playing video games on behalf of hundreds of thousands of viewers.
PopAxiom spoke with MMOByte, real name Mark or Stix as he often goes by, about going from Australia to America and becoming a content creator on YouTube with 331,000+ subscribers as of this writing.
Australians Are Idiots
Watching Stix, you’ll notice he’s got a clear speaking voice and an American accent, but it was only four years ago when he moved to the United States from Australia. “I was 15 years old when I got a job online doing SEO. I was attempting to land a client. There were an American and British guy up for the same client. I had a strong opinion about how I could go about achieving this client’s rankings. They both had a difference of opinion. The American and British agreed that the Australian is stupid.”
“So, I talked to people,” Stix says, ”and learned that generally, people think Australians are laid-back idiots.”
Stix came to a logical conclusion. “If being Australian is going to hinder my ability to land more clients if I want to pursue a career in SEO, then I will fake an American accent. So, I faked it.”
How did the faux accent work out? “At that point, I came back to the same client who forgot all about me. Without the Australian accent, I got the job right away.”
“Fast-forward years later,” he continues, “I adopted the accent, and that was that. I can probably fake an Australian accent, but I’ve sort of lost it entirely.”
Getting Into Gaming
“Back when I was around 10 or 11, I purchased the Playstation 1 by doing chores around the neighborhood,” Stix says about his early gaming days. “I bought the first Resident Evil game. Playing that game at that age at like 10 pm on a school night — I was mortified. I couldn’t sleep all night. I thought zombies were going to smash through my window.”
Resident Evil is a genre far away from the MMO. “Growing up, my family was pretty poor. As an avid gamer, I had to find an outlet in which to experience games. That led me to my first MMO called Tales of Pirates. I think in Asia, it’s known as Pirates King Online. I dedicated two years of my life to that game. From around 2004 to 2006.”
As any MMO fan might tell you, there are down times, and that’s a good thing. “I’m in that lull where I’m waiting for “Endwalker” in November. I haven’t played Final Fantasy 14 since patch 5.2, which was early 2020. I’m playing MMOs now for the channel, but I’m not playing any in my off-time.”
“I did SEO for seven or eight years straight,” he explains about his days leading up to becoming a content creator. “I loved video games, and I saw another channel called MMO Hunt and an introductory video they made, sort of the grandfather of the ‘first impressions.’ So, I realized that this guy’s playing a game I’m already playing and just talking for 30 minutes while playing it then uploading the video, essentially unedited to YouTube. He’s getting tens of thousands of views. He’s got a website running alongside it. I can do that!”
Stix decided to try and do just that. “I made a YouTube channel based around MMOs. Then I used my SEO knowledge to research topics, titles, and keywords. That’s how the channel grew.”
“It started with MMOs,” he says, “because that’s what I was playing at the time. I started YouTube around four or five years ago. I’d load up OBNS, record an hour of a game, then upload it raw to YouTube. That got me nowhere after about six months.”
Stix started experimenting. “So, I started condensing it down to 20-minute videos with highlights, but that didn’t work for me either. At that point, I took feedback and tried to condense them into 2-4 minute video, but that didn’t allow for much of any content.”
“I didn’t know what direction the channel was going to go,” he shares, “when I met my wife, Mrs. Stix. She suggested covering some of the news in the MMO scene.”
Stix took the suggestion and “started doing research and set up alerts for specific keywords for specific games. I would make weekly videos that I titled ‘Weekly Byte of MMO RPG News’ and those went on to get 40, 50, 100 thousand views.”
But there was a problem. “Those videos took hours of writing, hours of editing, hours of research. It was two or three days of work. The workload increased substantially.”
“The process has changed a lot,” he says of the channel’s evolution over the years. “Now, I cover the news more singularly and more focused on stuff that the viewers and I might find interesting. I rarely capture video for dedicated gameplay videos anymore. Instead, it’s more informational and news related.”
MMOByte uploads content regularly. The work behind the scenes “depends on the video,” he says. “I have videos where I’m just reacting to a trailer or where I’m reading information directly from a website.”
“For news videos or where I’m going to talk about a game more in-depth,” he continues, “I will write up the script for it and closing opinions. Sometimes with a list of pros and cons for the game. I go about reading off of that.”
But Stix doesn’t box himself in with a script. “I leave areas where I can go off-script. I’ll have notes about other games I can mention. I’ll acquire footage of games related to the video. I use the script, but it’s not set in stone. I allow myself to have a sense of freedom while I’m talking. It all gets edited in Adobe Premiere Pro.”
Like any other industry, the world of content creators comes with drama and dark sides. “I try to distance myself from doing heavily negative videos on games. That’s not my thing.”
In our current world, creators like him are increasingly becoming a marketing tool for products, creating a breeding ground for corruption. Months ago, Stix released a video discussing this critical topic. “A company might sometimes reach out to me with a financial incentive. They’ll say, ‘we’re willing to offer you this amount of money for you to review our game.’ I say, ‘that sounds like a great idea, but if I do, I might have bad things to say about the game.’ If the company doesn’t like that, then there’s no deal. So I generally try to take sponsors from games I like.”
It seems benign enough, but “Sometimes, the incentive comes with a catch of removing a previous video that may have mentioned their game in a negative light. So that’s a no.”
“If I am not blunt and honest with what I say, my community will hold me accountable,” he affirms. “It could go from thousands of subscribers to nothing overnight. So is it worth it?”
Stix also admits that “making videos like that burns some bridges. But it also creates more trust with your community because it shows you’re willing to burn those bridges. If you’re willing to be honest and not sacrifice your morals just for a paycheck, people will more likely trust what you say.”
“I never thought the channel would hit three hundred thousand subscribers,” he says and adds, “every milestone is mind-blowing.”
What’s the goal moving forward for MMOByte? “My goal was always to remain focused on MMOs, but as of the last year, I’m leaning towards more game content. Currently, I do like 85% MMO content and 15% game content. I want to focus a little more on other genres that I enjoy.”
Grander goals are definitely in the works. “I want to build up and establish the website as a company. Then, I’d love to employ writers to write about MMOs and games, maybe even do skits.”
Are you subscribed to MMOByte?
Thanks to Stix for making this interview possible.
Find more interviews by Ruben R. Diaz!