In a move that has shocked and surprised the video game/entertainment community, the entire video library of Machinima on YouTube has been changed to private, effectively removing them from public viewing. In doing this, the company has essentially removed countless years of creative content with 12 million subscribers in one fell swoop. This includes the popular Machinima Happy Hour and the Trailer Vault, which was one of the very first video playlists that the company created when it started.
Worse yet, it seems that the company did not contact any of the content creators of this decision, and went ahead with removing their videos anyway. Extremely popular video series such as Battlefield Friends, Super Best Friends Play, Christopher Walkenthrough, and one of the original Machinima stalwarts, Sanity Not Included, were all wiped without the creators’ knowledge. Otter Media sent a statement over to Kotaku in regards to this recent action:
We are focused on creating new content with the Machinima team, which will be distributed on new channels to be announced in the coming months. In the meantime the Machinima network of creator channels continues to showcase the talents of the network. As part of this focus on new content, we have pivoted from distributing content on a handful of legacy operated channels.
Despite an official response, this hasn’t stopped any of the original creators or its long time fans from speaking out on years of love, sweat, and tears being removed all in one strike.
Wow… they finally went ahead and deleted everything we’d ever done.
7+ Years of work… lost to the sands of time. #RIPMachinima
— RickyFTW (@rickyftw) January 19, 2019
Sad to see the catalogue go. As many have already said Machinima was a special place filled with amazing people. I feel lucky to have been part of it. #RIPMachinima
— Matt Dannevik (@MattDannevik) January 19, 2019
My feelings about Machinima and the way they abused good friends of mine aside – it’s still sad to see so much hard work and content lost forever. One of the reasons I left MCNs was because they could just flip a switch and remove your videos. My heart goes out to the creators. pic.twitter.com/TxJAGkIebx
— Jesse Cox (@JesseCox) January 19, 2019
It might seem like an outdated system now, but back in its heyday, Machinima was the premier channel on YouTube and the go-to place for anyone looking for entertaining videos to binge on. The company was founded at the turn of the millennium by Hugh Hancock and a handful of other creators that went by the name Strange Company. With a burning passion for making content based on already made video games, their website was originally created for distributing Machinima films that they made themselves. However, this would take a drastic turn in 2005 when YouTube started up, which changed how people got their video content on the Internet forever.
Recognizing this, Strange Company created the official Machinima YouTube channel the following year, and almost immediately exploded in popularity. YouTube allowed the public to watch these videos for free, and millions flocked to the channel everyday to see what new and inventive Machinima style content they would upload. After more than a decade of success, the channel amassed over 12 million subscribers, becoming one of the most lucrative video content companies in the process. This eventually led to the creation of subsidiary channels, such as the competitive Machinima Respawn, and the RPG grind heavy Machinima Realm.
As time went on, newer and more effective ways to create content became more accessible such as livestreaming, which is currently dominated by Twitch and Mixer. YouTube was getting left behind, and in turn, so was Machinima. In 2016 the company was fully acquired by Warner Bros. which led many to believe that this would breathe new life into the channel. However, there was little improvement, as the channel didn’t do a lot to set themselves apart and move forward. During this time, many of the older creators had gone on to renewed success with their own channels or on Twitch.
Things got worse in 2018, as Hugh Hancock, the founder of Machinima, suddenly and tragically passed away in February due to a heart attack. Then, later in November, Machinima was moved over to Otter Media, which was acquired in the same year by Warner Bros. It seemed to make sense, as this was the same entity that owned and operated Rooster Teeth, CrunchyRoll, Fullscreen, and Hello Sunshine. As if moving around this much wasn’t enough, Machinima was yet again moved through the division, this time to Fullscreen. Similarly, the announcement came from nowhere, as creators realized that this move signaled the potential beginning of the end for the company.
— Nerly Senor Citzen (@william_roeben) January 16, 2019
Turns out, their fears weren’t far off, as we mentioned earlier that all of the videos from Machinima were privatized from the public. The channel still has its 12 million subscribers, but without any content to view, it may be a matter of time until that number begins to drop. This also may have affected anyone who relies on their videos being monetized for income on the channel, so hopefully the content creators who were affected by this are able to find work elsewhere. Either way, long time fans look at this as the end of an era. Over 13 years of creative content that made so many connections with so many different people is gone.