The Yogscast is a name synonymous with YouTube Gaming.
Before Pewdiepie came along and smashed everyone out of the water, The Yogscast led the charge on letsplays in the UK. The first Yogscast YouTube channel (now known as Yogscast Lewis & Simon) launched in 2008, and subsequently shot to fame for it's Minecraft-orientated letsplays. The Yogscast brand became a LTD company in 2011.
Six years and around 20 million subscribers later, The Yogscast is now a media production company and video game publisher. It's also a creator network with a vibrant roster of YouTubers and Streamers based at their Bristol HQ, and beyond.
Martyn Littlewood joined the Yogscast in 2012, after the group took a shine to his video game themed parodies. We sat the YouTube veteran down for a chat about the development of his content and the state of the influencer space currently. He's also got a Guinness World Record for scoring goals in Rocket League, which is pretty cool.
IU.biz: First off, talk us through InTheLittleWood’s YouTube channel. Elevator pitch! What do you do, how long have you been doing it?
Martyn Littlewood: To put it simply, I aim to make high energy content that's inclusive and positively toned. I lean towards games that are more vibrant and colourful like Mario, Zelda, Ni No Kuni, Fornite and The Escapists to name a few. I put a huge focus on viewer input from the comments section influencing the way a series progresses. Splash in a bit of original music here and there, then there you have it!
Did you have any idea your videos would be as popular as they have been?
Absolutely not. I thought with my equipment and skills from my time working in radio that I'd have slightly better production values than most and the ability to talk a whole lot but I thought that would only sit me slightly above average. I never anticipated that people would gravitate to my improvised songs and slew of puns!
How much does your audience and target demographic affect your work?
In recent years not so much but leading up to January 2014 I was starting to feel really pigeon holed and stuck in one game, let alone one genre, Minecraft. It was really starting to affect my general mood and creativity so I actually went cold turkey on the game which was dramatic but moving more towards variety content helped my longevity on YouTube.
Trends come and go. Enthusiasm doesn't though, and that's harder to fake.
How do you make running a channel sustainable? Given the recent changes to monetisation and YouTube revenue, do you think you’ll be forced to monetise in other ways?
Brand deals are something I've always partaken in but they were often extra income on top of what was already a solid amount of earnings from YouTube, but in the past year it's certainly shifted to a necessity and balance of the two to cover the bills. Some months are a struggle but I'll never feature a game unless I really enjoy/believe in it, I'd rather not do the brand deal which may be my downfall (stupid pride!). Twitch has been a decent source of revenue too, mostly from the subscriber system which can tally up quicker than you'd expect and even though I don't particularly drive donations or use gimmicks to receive them, I find people chip in anyway.
Do you think the negativity surrounding YouTube will eventually lead creators to move over to other platforms, or is YouTube is too big to fail?
The gaming sector of YouTube is already seeing a large shift in focus over to Twitch. I foresee more creators moving to the platform over the years and essentially changing their content styling from production to live, but not until the introduction of a solid subscription box to compliment the recent video uploading rollouts. YouTube will always exist though, it will likely always be the big dog simply because all the other genres of video don't have another solid competitor to move to and that will result in the household name for 'video' always being under Google's reign.
What do you think it means to BE an influencer? Do you think you have a certain responsibility to inspire and stand up for the right things, even if you don’t want to?
As the years go on, my opinion on being an influencer is changing quite rapidly after seeing so many bad examples of them. I wince when I see people revere creators with large subscriber numbers or view counts as being heightened intellectuals when they're often not.
We all have our status and audience because of the work we put in to our videos, nothing more.
Over the years the list of things people seem to expect from influencers has grown. You're expected to chime in topics like politics, retweet every single charity fundraiser you're sent or to get personally involved with somebody's struggles with self harm or bad thoughts simply because they're a fan and quite frankly, very few of us are properly qualified to do any of those things. So it might be an unpopular opinion but I feel our only role should be to create those videos and provide people a safe place on the internet they can escape to for a few minutes every day. Beyond that, I guess just have a bit of tact about what you say and do online. Be mindful that people are spectating you whether they're impressionable or judgemental, set a good example.
How do you think the YouTube/Influencer is scene is performing currently? How do you think you’d fare if you started a new channel right now, compared to 5 years ago?
Oh man, starting a channel right now, I just wouldn't. I'd honestly just start up on Twitch. Garnering an audience now is harder than ever, not just due to over population but also the systems in place are either tailored to YouTube's favourites or just simply broken. Susbcription boxes/notifications regularly fail, algorithm changes can nuke 50% of your audience from that day onward in a single sweep and Google's incessant need to keep changing the visual design of the website, all make it a terrifying place to build a career because once you're established and build a life on that level of income and work, it could all suddenly fall from beneath you due to reasons out of your control.
What does the future of InTheLittleWood look like to you?
The future is quite bright actually! I'm working on lots of creative projects outside of my let's play videos like original music with the SYLOS brand, live broadcast content on Twitch and even writing a kids book!
Who's your favourite Power Ranger?
Billy, blue ranger, met him once, life made!