Welcome to YouTube Billionaires, where we profile channels that have recently crossed the one billion view mark. There are channels crossing this threshold every week, and each has a story to tell about YouTube success. Read previous installments of YouTube Billionaires here.
YouTube gamer Syndicate may be known for his Call of Duty and Minecraft videos, but he’s somewhat of a YouTube Renaissance man. The British creator, who recently picked up his billionth view, also has a clothing line, a successful iPhone game, and a plethora of travel vlogs to his credit. We spoke to Syndicate about the many things he accomplishes on YouTube.
Tubefilter: How’s it feel to get over a billion views?
Pro Syndicate: Pretty crazy. It’s not something you do every day. It’s a huge deal, especially for me. I started YouTube just over three years ago now. And it was just something that I thought It’d do with the aim of working at a network or a game company so I could play video games all day. I was hoping that could be my job. And maybe, too, I’d hit one million views one day.
But to hit a billion. It’s kind of hard to describe. It’s a very overwhelming feeling to think that I’ve reached that many people.
TF: Your channel has grown incredibly fast. Why do you think that is?
PS: I don’t know. I would’ve thought I would’ve died off by now. I do the same stuff pretty much all the time…I don’t put on another personality where I need to be loud, or be this certain character, or anything like some other YouTubers, who can easily switch on or switch off the character. I just feel like I’m just me. A normal 20-year-old guy that likes to play video games that people can relate to. I had a dream that I would get to this level, and my audience followed me to where I am now. It’s an amazing place to be in.
From the get go, we’ve been on a sort of adventure together, from seeing me struggling to upload a video because my dad would take away my internet or my Xbox away…to the point I’m at now, where I’m traveling across the world going on these cool adventures all because of my audience. Without them I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t say we’re in a relationship, but we’re sort of like a family.
People are amazed at the engagement I have with my audience and they want to be involved. From the outside, it looks like we have a lot of fun. And we do. We do a lot of fun things. And I really interact with them, especially in a new series I do. It all revolves around what they say, what they recommend, takes their feedback, and implements their comments into my videos. I really try to engage my audience to and encourage us all to become a proper, almost like society of people.
But as to why people subscribe, I don’t know.
TF: How do you choose the games you’re going to play? Do you follow the trends and what other people are playing?
PS: I play what I want to play. But when a new game comes out it becomes a difficult question. Everyone is excited about the game and everyone makes videos about it. You could say that’s a popular trend…or you could say you just want to try the new game and make videos.
There are a lot of games, too, that pop out of nowhere, or a genre that starts getting really popular, but for me, I stick to what I like doing…Minecraft is the biggest series on my channel. A lot of people play that game, too. But I just have a lot of fun with it. At this point, it’s a game that gives you a lot of freedom and you can choose to create your own story line. Those are the kinds of games I like to play. Something where I can control what’s going on and I can decide what I want to do in it.
If a game ever gets to a point where I’m not having fun and it doesn’t have that entertainment value for me, I’ll play something else.
TF: What role does the gaming community on YouTube play in your life or more specifically, in your growth on YouTube?
PS: The more the YouTube community grows, the better. Whether that’s vloggers brining in a new audience, new games bringing in a new audience, or anything else. The more people that get brought into YouTube means the more people who have a chance to see your videos.
You could get a beauty vlogger making a video teaching you how to paint your nails and then that person is searching around on YouTube and sees one of my videos on the homepage – or one of their friends liked a video of mine – and then they can check out this gaming thing. They can click and realize it’s not just me playing video games going, “This is how you do it. This is how you beat the boss.” It’s more of an adventure, more of a show, or an entertainment platform for people to enjoy. And I think that the more people that come to join the YouTube community as a whole, whether it’s because of games or anything else, is great. We all grow together.
TF: There’s this clothing line you’ve created. What made you decide to start a clothing line and how do you choose the designs?
PS: I’ve always wanted to have clothes. I’ve always liked a surfer sort of style and when I was out in the States about two years ago, I was inspired by all the different designs.
I was originally selling clothes, but I stopped doing it a long time ago, just because the quality wasn’t there. I didn’t want my subscribers purchasing poor quality, so I shut shop and refused to sell anything until I found a way to give the audience a great product. You want to buy something that looks cool, feels good, and washes well. You don’t want to sell things just because you can make money on it. If I wanted to do that, I would’ve had a crappy clothing line just selling stuff all the time. It took a while to find the right people that could deliver a great quality product.
And then my really good friend Evan Eckard, he actually really helped my channel to get where it is today. He’s an amazing artist and web developer. He helped design the shop and then I give him ideas. I tell him I’m inspired by this thing or this style, and he runs with it and comes back with these amazing designs. He did it all just for fun as a hobby and I really appreciate all he does.
But the success of the store had been insane. I really love how my audience has stuck around through the few kinks at the start. We worked through the initial problems together, and it’s been running perfectly for the past several months. We’re going to be doing a few giveaways through the store to say thank you to all the fans.
And the Syndicate store, I don’t just want it to be for my YouTube fans. I mean, I love that they wear the clothes, but I also want to have designs that really anyone could wear without even knowing who I am.
TF: You stated on your channel that you love travel. Where to next?
PS: I really want to go to Tokyo. It’s supposed to be just crazy. I had some friends that just got back from there and they tell me it’s like a whole other planet. The arcades, the foods, the culture. Just everything. And you can go from the madness of Tokyo to the hills right outside and find hidden temples. That’s what I would love to go and experience.
I mean, you can have money, you can have success, but for me, everything in life comes down to experiences. Whether it’s out I go out for a laugh with friends or I travel across the world to America or Tokyo. That’s what I love and that’s what my vlogging channel is about. I try to push that message across to my audience.
Listen, you know, you’re young, you’re old, you’re whatever, but if you’re out there and you’re just not feeling good about where you’re at or you’re in a dead-end job, get up off your ass and do something about it. I was at McDonalds part-time, just because I didn’t want to stay in my dorm lifestyle. So, as soon as I left school, I got a part-time job, so I could have money in my pocket. I was already planning to travel and I was saving up all my money. One reason was to upgrade my computer, so I could make better videos and the other reason was so I could hopefully one day get a ticket to travel just all the way around the world. Luckily, through my career, I’ve been able to do that. I still have a few spots, like Tokyo and Australia to check off my list, but at this point in my life, I’ve made having those experiences a priority and I feel really good about that. I could stop everything right now and be really happy with what I’ve done.
I don’t plan to just sit inside, do nothing, and play video games. I mean, I love playing video games, but if I’ve got an alternative, like I have friends going down to the beach or want to film something or are asking me to go do this or that, I’m there at a drop of a hat. I’d rather go out and do something that will change my day completely rather than do the same thing over and over again. Tomorrow might come and you’re gone, so make the most of it.
TF: What else is going on and in the works?
PS: Obviously, I’ve got the iPhone game, [Zombie Killer Squad], which is going great. We have so many updates coming that are going to make it an even better game.
But that’s only one of two games I’m currently working on. I’m actually working on a really, really good game, which is hopefully – and I know this may sound like a long way away, like a year, or maybe two years away from being made – but I’m going to be making my own PC game. I can’t tell you what it is, but I can tell you it’s actually in the works. It’s going to involve zombies and it’s going to be insane…it’s going to be big and hopefully take everyone by storm.