Welcome to YouTube Millionaires, where we profile channels that have recently crossed the one million subscriber mark. There are channels crossing this threshold every week, and each has a story to tell about YouTube success. Read previous installments of YouTube Millionaires here.
Another YouTuber has reached one million subscribers thanks to the strength of his “Let’s Play” gaming videos. Zach Drapala, who goes by the name GhostRobo, has become a force in the YouTube gaming community by entertaining his fans with commentary on the latest video game titles. Drapala, who is partnered with Machinima, took some time out of his very busy schedule (he’s uploaded more than 25 videos in the past week alone) to answer some of our questions.
Tubefilter: How does it feel to have one million subscribers? What do you have to say to your fans?
Ghost Robo: It’s an incredible feeling. I remember wanting to throw a party with my family when I hit 1,000 subscribers, and now this is amazing and sometimes hard to even fully grasp. I’m a big NFL fan, and to think that my fan base could fill 15+ stadiums, to know that I’ve made that many people smile or have some fun…that’s just…wow.
I’m so grateful to everyone that has watched my videos, shared them with their friends, or taken the time to message me. I always want to improve and impress my audience, and their feedback has helped fuel my growth in more ways than they probably know. Numbers are nice, but the interactions are even more valuable, and I’m glad that I’ve been able to maintain that connection to this day.
TF: What do you think is the biggest way your channel has changed in the four years you’ve been on YouTube?
GR: Many of the core elements of my channel have remained the same: family friendly commentary, a desire to spread positivity and make people smile, honest and opinionated content. I’d say the biggest change has been in my confidence level, and thereby how I’ve improved in my ability to entertain and run the channel.
It’s exciting that game companies now reach out to ME, because they want Ghost to cover their title. At this point, I feel like I’ve almost ‘mastered’ GhostRobo. But I know that I haven’t mastered YouTube, and that’s exciting, because there’s still so much room for growth and developmen.
TF: What factors determine which games you choose for your Let’s Play series?
GR: Man, I ask myself that question every day. There are so many channels that do walkthroughs now, you’re pretty much guaranteed that a dozen people have covered a game before you even get it. So for me, it’s beginning to be about what I want to play, and what games I can bring something to. In the past, I would just play everything that came out. But now, it’s more about “Can I put a real GhostRobo spin on this series, and do I think that my commentary will create a memorable experience for viewers?” Those are the Let’s Plays that I want to focus on.
TF: What is your favorite game that you have played on your channel, and what made it stand out to you?
GR: That’s a tough question, because there are so many series that stand out for different reasons. But if I had to zero in on one, it would be LA Noire. That was the game that really helped me break out onto the YT scene, and the point where I feel like my commentary came into its own. There are memes we created during LA Noire that still get referenced today, over 3 years later. Cola King forever!!
TF: Are there any games you’d like to play on your channel, but haven’t? If so, why haven’t those games made it into your videos?
GR: For the most part, I play what I enjoy. But there are some games that I love, that just don’t translate well to YouTube, or don’t have that large of an audience on my channel, or they’ve passed their online expiration date. Indie games, retro games, Mario. Sometimes I wish I could just play more Mario!
TF: Does a lot of editing go into your videos, or does the GhostRobo we see on screen represent your unfiltered experience when playing games?
GR: I do spend a good chunk of time editing, but the GhostRobo you see is definitely the real, unfiltered me. I’m not afraid to say how I feel about a game, even if it’s negative, or against the general consensus. Just ask my fans how I feel about GTA 5! And if it’s important to the game experience, I’ll leave it in…in Dark Souls, I left my deaths in, to really showcase how tough that game is. There’s other titles I’ll edit more heavily, just for smoother viewing. But I feel like GhostRobo and Zach are very close in identity. There’s little to no ‘act’.
TF: Your videos were flagged during the ContentID snafu that plagued YouTube late last year. One year later, are you pleased with the way rights management works on YouTube?
GR: I’m so glad that debacle is over. What some publishers fail to see is how much our videos actually promote their games. We aren’t taking away from the pool of potential buyers, we’re ADDING excited gamers who want to try it out for themselves. I’ve had countless fans message me on Twitter or YouTube to say they bought a game JUST because of my video.
I don’t think I should get a cut or anything, but I’m very glad they’ve backed off and are allowing us to create and monetize our content. The YT gaming scene has evolved tremendously this past year, and a majority of publishers have totally turned the corner and are very supportive of what we do. It’s exciting, and I’m no longer worried like many of us were last fall.
TF: What made you decide to begin doing unboxing videos on your channel?
GR: I’ve really tried to bring more of my personality into my channel in 2014, and unboxing videos have been a perfect way for me to do that. I’ve found them to be a nice bridge between gaming videos and straight up vlogs. There’s some surprise and intrigue in blind boxes, and it’s fun to share a different side of me with my fans. I can bring in friends or family, and just be myself.
I love the vlog type stuff, it’s a very personal way to interact with viewers. Step away from the controller and have a different kind of fun. It’s a direction I plan on pursuing even more extensively in the future.
TF: What’s next for your channel? Any fun plans?
GR: Well my fans are hoping for the much awaited “Draw My Life”, and that’s for sure coming. I just launched my first real t-shirt over on TeeSpring as part of my one million subscribe celebration. But overall, I’m super excited for the future. It feels to me like I’m just coming in to my own, even after 4 years. My core group of fans really “get me.”
I’ll never stray from video games, but I will keep adding more and more of Zach into my videos. One million subscribers is an exciting plateau, but it’s definitely not the peak. I love the climb, and I can’t want to surprise and excite everyone who visits my channel. There’s a lot more GhostRobo coming soon. This is only the beginning.