Why Jake Paul isn’t the trendsetter he likes to think he is

Published: 16/Nov/2020 14:41 Updated: 23/Nov/2020 16:49

by Chris Stokel-Walker


Jake Paul is one of the most recognizable faces in online video, but he’s not the big trendsetter that he likes to claim he is. No, he didn’t didn’t invent the content house. No, he didn’t invent YouTube boxing, and no, he wasn’t the first YouTuber to be raided by the FBI.

Jake Paul continues to be a major contributor — for good and evil — towards the wider debate around YouTube. But the cocky creator seems too eager to cement his place in the history of online video, making outlandish claims that he was the mastermind behind content houses, YouTube boxing and more.

Overnight on November 15, the younger Paul brother courted controversy in the way he’s become known for by tweeting an outlandish claim about his impact on the online video space.

Paul claimed he “created the first content house,” which gave birth to “500 content houses.” He said that “every influencer is a boxer” after he started boxing. And he questioned what’s next: “Y’all gon get raided by the FBI on purpose?” — a reference to an August 2020 incident when his Calabasas home was raided by the FBI connected to an investigation of him being filmed in the presence of looting at a mall in Scottsdale, Arizona.

But Paul is overstating his impact. Yes, his every word is newsworthy — as evidenced by the fact we’re talking about him here. But he didn’t invent YouTube, and he doesn’t necessarily create trends on the site anymore.

MaiLinh Nguyen, a former videographer for Paul, felt the need to correct his claims, pointing out that others gathered together in a collab house long before Paul set up Team 10’s mansion in Calabasas.

In her thread, Nguyen pointed out that Paul certainly wasn’t the first. The Station, a collection of Maker Studios creators including Phil DeFranco, LisaNova and Shane Dawson, pioneered the idea in 2009, though not all of them lived together. In 2014, the O2L Mansion was born. Even the Sidemen house predated the Team 10 house by a couple of years.

But collaborative places to work and produce online video existed long before YouTube: The Spot, which ran between 1995 and 1997, the year Paul was born, did a similar thing, though the cast was fictional.

Paul could make a decent claim to have popularized the idea of collaborative working with peers in the same rough location, first as part of his membership of the loose collection of creators living at 1600 Vine, before then moving into the Team 10 mansion. Certainly, we’re seeing vast numbers of collab houses pop up, inspired off the back of the Hype House, which had its precedent in the Team 10 mansion through founder Thomas Petrou. But, as Nguyen tweeted, “that’s not what [Paul] claimed in his tweet.”

Likewise, Paul’s claims to have invented YouTube boxing don’t stand up. For one thing, neither he nor his brother were on the card at the first white collar YouTube boxing match, held in London in February 2018, which saw KSI beat Joe Weller. Seeing the success of that event, the Pauls got involved and turned the spectacle into a global phenomenon that sold out the Manchester Arena and took over Los Angeles. But he didn’t invent it: in fact, he piggybacked on a pre-existing trend after seeing its popularity.

That’s something Paul often does; by sheer scale of his audience, he’s often the person who popularizes trends to a mainstream audience, but scratch beneath the surface and you see other people have done it first. He’s able to capitalize on spotting ideas just before the wave breaks on them becoming major movements. Yet by constantly looking at the latest trends, Paul ignores the long and storied history of online video.

Jake Paul Air Jordan 1 Dior cereal
Instagram: jakepaul
Jake Paul definitely knows how to cause a stir online.

This is now a mature space, and a significant industry with a past that should be remembered and celebrated. It’s important to remember the first vloggers who laid the path for those like Paul to make their millions – and too often, they’re overlooked for the latest trends. It’s important to remember seminal moments like The Spot, The Station and KSI versus Joe Weller. The internet moves fast, and we forget moments too quickly in favor of the new.

As for Paul’s claim that he invented YouTubers getting in trouble with and raided by the FBI, well, for one thing it’s not a claim to fame most ordinary people would be so keen to grab. But even if it was, it’s not something that Paul can factually say he did first, as far as influencers go. We even reported on IcePoseidon’s FBI raid a year and a half before authorities rocked up at the gate of Paul’s mansion in the hills.

Paul’s famous as a high school dropout, who’s proven his teachers, who claimed he’d never amount to much, wrong. But he – like all of us – could do with brushing up on his online video history out of class.


Adam Fitch: Sorry Dr Disrespect, mobile esports are thriving

Published: 27/Nov/2020 17:00

by Adam Fitch


Earlier in November 2020, streamer Dr Disrespect spoke down towards mobile gamers on Twitter by questioning how it could be a “serious thing” — however, he’s just failing to understand how popular competition on mobile already is.

While mobile gamers and industry figures alike came to the defense of mobile gaming when the Two-Time took aim at the platform, there’s still a serious misconception around mobile esports and the success it’s already achieved.

Firstly, it’s worthwhile addressing the “serious” comment from Doc. While mobile devices perhaps don’t allow for precision that PCs do, there’s still a major skill gap between average and professional players and that lends itself perfectly to competition. The most common and widely-accepted definition of esports is a “video game played competitively for spectators,” mobile tournaments meet such a criteria on a daily basis and it’s already serious to hundreds of thousands of viewers on a weekly basis.

This skepticism from one of the faces of gaming is emblematic of a larger problem of platform elitism that plagues gaming on all levels. Ever since the popularization of esports there has been debate between console and PC gaming, centering around not only which type of players are better but whether console esports have unfair advantages due to features such as aim assist.

Ezreal in League of Legends Wild Rift
Riot Games
The most popular esports title, League of Legends, arrived on mobile in October 2020.

Tribalism is also a factor in this spritely, never-ending discussion, with players grouping together based on their platform of choice and nonsensically taking aim at those who have other preferences.

The only time in which such a debate would be productive is if cross-platform play is embraced in serious competition, which seems to be a long way away from ever becoming a reality. Fortnite developers Epic Games received plenty of criticism when implementing this feature in casual play, never mind in their esports activities, so it’s probably safe to assume no companies are rushing to make this a reality for the time being.

Infrastructure matters

Something that all good games need to be viable on a competitive level is infrastructure. Creating an appropriate structure for esports initiatives is important, whether it’s by a game’s developer or a third-party tournament organizer.

A great example of this in the realm of mobile esports is Clash Royale, one of the more popular titles from Finnish developers Supercell. The real-time strategy game has its own official team-based league from the company themselves, with top-tier gameplay spanning nine weeks and culminating in a year-ending world championship. This level of support and structure actually goes beyond what some PC and console games receive.

On the third-party organizer front, especially in the West, you only have to look as far as ESL to see how seriously mobile esports is being taken. As well as hosting regular online events for the likes of Call of Duty: Mobile, Clash of Clans, Brawls Stars, and Clash Royale, they have the ESL Mobile Open for elite players.

Clash Royale League World Finals
The Clash Royale League World Finals are always a spectacle, rivaling events in almost any other game.

Recently incorporating the Middle East and North Africa into the European arm of the competition, it’s said that ESL hosted over 500,000 players in the inaugural season alone. The second season involves PUBG Mobile, Auto Chess, Asphalt 9: Legends, and Clash of Clans, and will be expecting even more success with the widening of the player base.

In North America, the Mobile Open from ESL is already in its sixth season and has a headline sponsorship from the world’s largest telecommunications company, AT&T. There are other examples of infrastructure being fleshed out for mobile titles, but you get the gist.

A sight for sore eyes

One major factor of how we define success in esports is viewership. With a healthy amount of eyeballs on a product comes sponsorship opportunities, bragging rights, and further validation that fans are interested in watching the elite face off against each other.

With that in mind, it’s never been clearer that mobile esports isn’t just a major part of the future of the industry — it has already arrived. According to analytics agency Esports Charts, mobile events made up three of the five most popular tournaments in October 2020. This happened alongside the League of Legends World Championship taking place, which is not only one of the most anticipated occasions in the esports calendar but as it turned out to be one of the only LAN events we’d seen in six months.

Garena Free Fire
Free Fire hit a record of 100 million peak daily users earlier in 2020.

Asia and Latin America are where mobile esports are truly thriving at the moment, rivaling the popularity of any other title you decide to compare them with. This is proven from last month’s peak viewership statistics, where MOBA title Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and battle royale game Garena Free Fire occupied three of the top five placements.

Ryan ‘Fwiz’ Wyatt, the head of gaming at YouTube, posted a thread on Twitter on November 26 backed up the sheer popularity of Free Fire on the platform. In 2019, it was YouTube’s fourth most-viewed game and it’s proving to have some longevity considering its monthly viewership peaked in October 2020.

While this level of success isn’t replicated across all regions just yet, that’s how esports typically work. Call of Duty and Counter-Strike are mainly popular among those in North America and Europe, for example, which is reflected in the demographics of both the top-level players and the viewership alike. The same applies to mobile but it’s not an excuse for ignorance.

The future?

Mobile devices are generally more accessible than a high-end computer or new-generation gaming console so there’s a much higher ceiling on participation in mobile esports by default. Whether adoption from mobile users does indeed propel it into becoming the de facto competitive option is yet to be seen, but such potential can’t be ignored.

With viewership rivaling (and even oftentimes besting) that from console and PC esports alike, it’s sheer ignorance to state that mobile gaming isn’t already a major player in the industry. If you fail to see that from the investment that’s being funneled into mobile titles, or the number of people who already enjoy playing and spectating, then perhaps you’d like to argue that grass isn’t green too.