The growth of the international gaming industry shows no signs of slowing down. According to the most recent Global Games Market Report, worldwide revenues are projected to reach $175.8 billion in 2021 and eclipse $200 billion by 2023, with the United States gaming industry alone poised to grow to $65 billion by 2021. The nature of how gamers interact is also evolving, closely paralleling the explosion in gaming lifestyle and culture popularity. Whereas gaming was once considered a solitary activity, the burgeoning gaming community now relies on video platforms like YouTube, Twitch, or Facebook to communicate, learn, and share virtual exploits.
There are many varieties of gaming YouTube videos including “Let’s Plays” (gameplay accompanied by commentary), walkthroughs (instructional gameplay and commentary), machinima (movies created from gameplay), and reviews. With an ever-growing number of loyal followers, top gaming YouTubers and channels are capturing the attention of millions with top subscribed channels and highly-viewed video content.
With over 2 billion users and more than a billion hours of video watched every day, YouTube is now the world’s second-largest search engine after Google. YouTube’s ubiquity and endless hours of user-generated content have made the platform extremely popular among millennials (18- to 34-year-olds), and though the age group now outnumbers baby boomers as the most populous in the United States, marketers find millennials an elusive demographic to target. For brands seeking to capitalize on YouTube’s expansive reach, marketing with top YouTube influencers may hold the key to winning over future generations. To learn more about YouTubers, see our post on the richest YouTubers or check out our guide to influencer marketing with YouTubers.
Many of today’s most popular social media stars produce gaming-related content, a genre that accounts for 80% of YouTube’s top trends. Within the gaming sphere, videos are so successful that YouTube developed its own dedicated gaming platform, YouTube Gaming launched on August 26, 2015. YouTube Gaming features a “live-content” site that facilitates real-time interaction between the viewer and YouTuber. Brands can easily leverage influencer partnerships on livestream sites because the content is unfiltered and authentic, which increases credibility among audiences.
Youtube Gaming has been in steady competition since the rise of Twitch to become the leading livestreaming platform for eSports, and the main platform for popular gaming influencers. Our list of 20 top gaming YouTubers has a collective audience of 400 million subscribers. To show the extent of their influence, it would take over 3 years to watch every YouTube video produced by the top 20 gaming creators. Here’s our list of the top 20 most influential gamers on YouTube:
Felix Kjellberg, better known as PewDiePie, is a gaming YouTuber popular for his Let’s Play videos, many of which focus on horror-themed games (Silent Hill, Dead Island), Minecraft, and a myriad of flash games. The first YouTube star to exceed 10 billion video views, PewDiePie commands the attention of over 110 million followers (dubbed the “Bro Army”) and, according to the Washington Post, his popularity has led to an “Oprah Effect” wherein games he plays receive a boost in sales. His channel features lifestyle vlogs and gaming livestreams for his exclusive channel members.
To demonstrate the nature of his popularity, in just the past four years PewDiePie has gained 64 million subscribers—more subscribers than the #2 and #3 gaming influencers have on this list combined! For over five years PewDiePie reigned as the top subscribed channel on YouTube. A few entertainment and film companies like Cocomelon and T-Series have since surpassed PewDiePie in overall subscribers, but PewDiePie still maintains his record as the number one influencer on YouTube. His channel is the fourth most-followed YouTube channel in the world.
Samuel de Luque is a Spanish gamer producing some of the web’s best Minecraft Let’s Play videos. While he is the only primarily non-English speaking influencer on our list, his channel boasts over 14 billion views! Luque is one of Spain’s most popular YouTubers and one of the most recognizable gamers on YouTube.
Mark Edward Fischbach, also known as Markiplier, is a Hawaii-born gaming YouTuber who specializes in Let’s Play videos of survival horror and action video games (Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Never-Ending Nightmare, SCP Containment Breach, and Slender), comedy sketches (“Drunk Minecraft,” wherein Fischbach plays games intoxicated), and machinima parodies. Mark was the recipient of the “Best in Games” Shorty Award in 2017. With over 30 million dedicated followers, Fischbach is one of the fastest-growing gaming YouTubers on the platform today.
Seán McLoughlin known as “Jacksepticeye” is an Irish gamer who rose to fame for his comedic gameplays and vlogs. He is best known for his Resident Evil and Super Mario Party streams. He regularly collaborates with PewDiePie and other top streamers on gaming and lifestyle content. His videos regularly receive over 1,400,000 views!
Canadian gamer Evan Fong is a YouTuber whose channel, Vanoss Gaming, is best known for Let’s Plays of Grand Theft Auto V, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Skate 3, Dead Rising, and Garry’s Mod, as well as videos that feature funny moments and/or remixes from Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty, and Dark Realm gaming sessions. In 2014, Fong was nominated for a “Trending Gamer of the Year” award, and the Vanoss Gaming channel currently has 26 million subscribers.
Dan Middleton (TheDiamondMinecart) is an English gaming personality and, with over 26 million followers, one of the top YouTubers in the United Kingdom. Though he began his YouTube career with Pokémon, he’s now most notable for his Minecraft videos, which make up the bulk of the content on his channel. That said, he also covers other games, such as Plants vs. Zombies and Garry’s Mod, and occasionally does vlog-style videos. He also has a Youtube Shorts channel, named DanTDM Shorts, with over 765,000 subscribers!
Best known for his Call of Duty and Fortnite games, Ali-A plays on a variety of systems and consoles and shares his content with over 18 million subscribers. Most of his videos focus on Call of Duty, but he branches out into other content types (like reaction videos) and sometimes plays other games — most recently, Overwatch. He’s particularly adept at digging into the minutiae of a game, analyzing different guns and weapon sets to copious amounts of downloadable content (DLC).
W2S (Wroetoshaw) is a gameplay channel created by the British commentator Harry Lewis. W2S is a part of The Sidemen, a group of popular British YouTubers who focus primarily on gaming, challenges, and lifestyle vlogs. Though his FIFA videos catapulted him to YouTube fame, W2S also creates IRL football videos, challenges, and vlogs. With over 24 million subscribers, W2S is the second most popular channel of The Sidemen group. The first is KSI with 24 million subscribers who is known for his FIFA sketches and rising music career.
From the mind of Matthew Patrick (MatPat), The Game Theorists exists to, in MatPat’s own words, “overanalyze” games. From Overwatch and Dark Souls to Zelda and Super Smash Bros., The Game Theorists channel has shared videos of a bevy of games with 15 million subscribers. Outside of theories, The Game Theorists channel also covers the history of games like Life is Strange, Spyro, and Chrono Trigger, as well as Break Down videos, which highlight the background and context behind popular games like Minecraft and Pokémon Go.
Famous for his distinct ‘delirious’ laughter and exaggerated reactions to in-game moments, H2ODelirious is something of an enigma, even to his 14 million subscribers. Despite his almost 15-year career on YouTube, he has never revealed his face on camera. Instead, he chooses to dedicate the entire screen to the game (rather than have a small inset video feed of himself playing). H20Delirious is associated with Vanoss and has done Let’s Play videos for a wide variety of games, including Grand Theft Auto, Among Us, Garry’s Mod, Resident Evil, Rocket League, and more.
Bradley Colburn (better known as theRadBrad) has over 13 million subscribers. He’s well-known for his walkthrough videos and for his personality, which is often described as positive and funny. He’s played dozens of games, including Mass Effect, Call of Duty, Resident Evil, and more. His channel has over 7,300 videos— making theRadBrad the largest producer of gaming content of the top 20 gaming influencers. He also has one of the oldest gaming channels on our list (along with #18 SPEEDYW03), his YouTube account was created in 2006.
Professional gamer Turner Tenney began his YouTube channel in 2014 and rose to fame for his Let’s Plays on Destiny, Fortnite Battle Royal, and Apex Legends. Known as TFUE, the controversial influencer made news in 2019 for allegations against FaZe Clan, a top esports organization. Despite negative press, Turner has one of the top followings in gaming with 12 million subscribers on YouTube and nearly 11 million followers on Twitch.
YouTuber Adam Dahlberg heads the channel Sky Does Everything which developed a cult following after his use of peculiar terminology (he calls Minecraft gold “budder/butter,” for example) and hatred of Minecraft squids began resonating with gamers. Adam’s channel, “Sky Does Everything” was originally named “Sky Does Minecraft” and was devoted almost entirely to videos of Minecraft Let’s Plays, machinimas, and role-playing.
In 2018 wanting more freedom with his gameplay, Dahlberg officially changed the name of his main channel to Sky Does Everything. Dahlberg’s other channel, Sky Vs Gaming, features Let’s Plays of Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Grand Theft Auto, The Walking Dead, and other popular fighting games. Dahlberg’s followers, who call themselves the “Sky Army,” now number over 12 million subscribers.
Though Jordan Maron’s YouTube gaming channel Captain Sparklez has dabbled in Let’s Play videos of Happy Wheels, Left 4 Dead 2, Portal, and Call of Duty, Maron’s success has come largely from his Minecraft machinimas—specifically, machinimas that “cover” pop songs using Minecraft. To date, the YouTube gamer’s breakout video, “Minecraft Style” (a rendition of Korean artist Psy’s hit “Gangnam Style”) has earned more than 19 million video views, and Captain Sparklez now commands the attention of 12 million subscribers. Like many top YouTubers who launch brands of their own, Maron owns a clothing brand called Quality Content.
Created in 2010 by British national Tom Cassell, The Syndicate Project originally focused on Halo and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Let’s Play gaming videos, but soon expanded to include Call of Duty: Black Ops Zombies, Minecraft, unboxing videos of popular first-person shooter games, reaction videos, and real-life adventure videos (like skydiving).
Back in November 2014, Cassell partnered with Adam Montoya (SeaNanners) and 3BlackDot (former Machinima executives) to launch Jetpak, an MCN (multi-channel network) dedicated to representing top gaming YouTubers fairly. Today, The Syndicate Project’s videos reach nearly 10 million subscribers.
The landscape for female gamers on YouTube has changed immensely the past ten years. Many household players like SSSniperWolf and IHasCupquakes have either broadened their gaming content to different niches or platforms or stopped content production altogether.
Pokimane, whose real name is Imane Anys, first cemented her status as a top female gamer on Twitch, where she has an audience of over 8 million subscribers. While she has a larger following on Twitch, she entertains close to 7 million YouTube subscribers making her one of the largest female gamers on YouTube. Pokimane grew her large YouTube following through reaction videos, ASMR videos, vlogs, and her popular Among Us and Fortnite series.
Elizabeth Dwyer goes by the name LDShadowLady on YouTube where she has been creating Let’s Plays for Minecraft and Sims since 2010. YouTube is her main platform where she posts videos 1-2 times a week. As a top YouTube gamer, the U.K based creator has a net worth of $6.5 million.
Known for his humorous (if sometimes crude) gaming videos, Speedyw03 has amassed a following of over 6 million subscribers and over 1.6 billion channel views. Many of his videos are of the “Funny Moments” variety, but also include gameplay videos and vlogs. He plays several different games, including Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, and Titanfall 2.
TimTheTatman is one of the top gaming influencers. Twitch has long been his primary gaming platform where he fosters connections with his 7 million subscribers.
In September 2021, Tim announced he was leaving Twitch to pursue a full-time career on YouTube. This decision came after other major gaming influencers like DrLupo and DrDisrespect jumped from Twitch to Youtube Gaming— increasing the competition for creators between streaming platforms. Tim frequently challenges other top gamers to Fortnite, Apex Legends, and Call of Duty. Tim also has a separate YouTube Shorts channel with 135,000 subscribers
Valkyrae, whose real name is Rachell Hofstetter, is Youtube’s most-watched female streamer in 2021. In 2020, Valkyrae left Twitch to exclusively stream on YouTube to her near 4 million subscribers. She is most known for her Among Us series and for collaborating with influencers like Pokimane, Jacksepticeye, Corpse Husband, and CouRage.
Valkyrae’s typically hosts YouTube livestreams 1-2 times per week which garner on average 20,000 views. Adweek recently named her the “2021 Gaming Creator of the Year.”