Galadon And On: A Conversation With A Top Clash Of Clans YouTube Personality
Clash of Clans is one of the world's most popular games, boasting millions of players and millions of dollars and millions of hours on YouTube.
Since the game's release on the App Store back in 2012, it has consistently sat at the top of the mobile charts across all applicable platforms. Supercell, the company behind the game, takes in an average estimate of over $5 million a day. Clash of Clans itself is free to download and relies on players spending money to purchase upgrades to fund their addiction.
It is the perfect dissemination of everything you love and hate about mobile titles: free to play, cartoony, relies on In App Purchases (IAP), basically a virtual casino, and the most dreaded of all video game hate speech: 'casual'.
Just don't tell the fans that. They are anything but casual, with some devoting hours of their time to building their own digital fortress, attacking enemies, mining and researching upgrades and strategies. Some even take it a step further and share their wisdom, uploading their replays, hints, cracks and guides to YouTube for all to see. Of the myriad of YouTubers who preach to the ever-growing Clash of Clans community, few are larger, more respected or more entertaining than Galadon of Clash of Clans Attacks.
Fire up any one of his over three hundred videos - he uploads a new one every day between 11 a.m and 3 p.m. EST - and even if you are not familiar with the game, Galadon's enthusiasm and intelligence shines through. He deeply loves the game and is possessed with infectious energy. Whether he's attacking with an untenable troop formation and failing (a 'Galafail' is the accepted term) or wiping the board on to a perfect victory, it's easy to understand why he's at or near the top of Clash YouTubers.
Very little is known about Galadon, who would not reveal his real name even to me (and oh how I tried!). His nom de plume is derived from the random name generator provided in Everquest, one of a handful of MMORPGs like World of Warcraft that he played throughout the years. He's older than you might expect (again, how old, I'll leave that to those who know) but he is possessed of the spirit of an excitable teenager. Were it not for a later obligation on both our parts, I very much believe he would have waxed poetic about Clash of Clans all day.
"A habit I had was to go out and just find what was new and popular, and download it and give it a try," Galadon said, reminiscing, "I could still remember the first day when I downloaded Clash of Clans. I was at the car wash. And it was the perfect blend of a mobile game that I could play on the run, but it had some of the elements of multiplayer on-line role playing game and that was what got me addicted."
"But it was something that I could put down, it was nice that I couldn't play it for hours at a time," he remarked, paused and then added,"but it was one of those games that it does give you the option!" Though we were talking via Skype, I could detect an exasperated smile coming from those words. All of us know that feeling of devoting far too many hours to a single play session.
Despite the seeming cartoonishness of the game - all pastel colors and goofy character animations - Clash of Clans is a deceptively complex game. The beginning levels - which are marked by one's Town Hall level (your main structure that you are tasked with defending) - are brisk, enjoyable. The real strategy, however, comes into play during what MMORPG players commonly refer to as End Game content. You've maxed out upgrades, or are close to it and the only thing left is to grind away the hours.
"I wanted to learn more about some of the mechanics and the more advanced strategies and so naturally, I went to YouTube like a lot of other people do and I looked up high level champion (the tiered ranking system)," Galadon said, "and I saw some great mid-level game play from guys like Chief Pat and from other guys who were really entertaining, but I didn't see exactly what I wanted and so I figured what the heck, why don't I put my own out?"
He was satisfied with his early oeuvre, but in hindsight, Galadon finds it hilarious that anyone ever listened to him. "It was pretty rough when it started, and my early videos I was kind of uptight and nervous, and I was like 'Oh my god!' How did anybody subscribe to me back then? What was I thinking because I could barely watch myself for 30 seconds." The evolution is night and day. The oldest video on the channel that I could find is a completely different person, more a passive recapper. Contrast that with his latest video, which features an engaging tease and soundeffects and an upbeat and enthusiastic voice-over, which I have described as being sportscaster-esque.
"I thought that maybe couple people might want them, and I log on and I notice that I got hundred subscribers, and I'm like 'How does that even happen?" he says.
His channel now sits at almost 450k, and is growing each and every day. He celebrates each new 100k with a special video. What that will entail, even Galadon doesn't know. He keeps a notebook with him to scribble down ideas, but he never knows exactly what topic he'll be covering when he wakes up in the morning. "It's funny, but the most productive I am as far as getting new content is just when I'm sitting there playing the game." Inspiration can come from anywhere, too. "Last night I was in my Clan (Lost Phoenix), talking to my members and I think in the span of 40 minutes, I had written down ideas for four or five more videos."
With the exception of a few special giveaways, Galadon avoids the endless daily spamming of Clash of Clans videos that are focused on exploiting, hacking and otherwise earning free gems.
As of 2013, YouTube paid out anywhere from $0.30 to $2.50 per 1000 views on monetized sites, that is sites that had entered into an agreement with Google regarding ad revenue. In October of 2013, the top 1000 channels bring in around $23,000 from advertising, 45% of which went to the creators. Galadon didn't start Clash of Clans Attacks with monetization in mind, in fact, he didn't even realize he could do it "for the first six months or so". When he finally did, the few dollars earned supported his gem buying habit, allowing him to play the game more and in turn, put out more and better videos.
But what started out as a hobby for Galadon, and many other YouTube celebrities, has turned into something more.
"Over the last six months it went from ninety percent real job, ten percent YouTube to the other way around," he noted, "YouTube is really how I make my living. People don't realize it, but the people that watch my videos are changing my life. They're changing the lives of everybody's videos that they watch."
Despite his growing subscriber base, Galadon remains level headed and amiable. He freely admits that a lot of his time is spent engaging the audience, either by social media or the comments. He makes it a point to respond to as many comments per video as possible. "I figure the least I could do for them is to read what they liked and it it's thoughtful or interesting reply to it. Even the comments they leave like 'Galadon, you're awesome!' I'm like 'Thanks!' and I'm hoping I don't have to stop doing that."
Considering one of his most watched videos, titled "Peter17$ Wins The Game (he thinks)!" has over 5000 comments on it, we can forgive him if he misses a few every now and then.
One cannot talk about Galadon without mentioning Peter17$. Peter is the brash, overconfident, slightly accented sparring partner for Galadon, the Penn to Galadon's Teller. Peter pops in at the end of most every video and antagonizes Galadon to delightful, exasperated effect. For what little we know of Galadon, we know even less about Peter. Who he is, where he lives, what he does and, most importantly, is he even real? There's a shroud of mystery surrounding the character, a mystery that Galadon is happy to indulge in ever so slightly. "I let people think what they want to think, and let people argue about it, and I think it's been a great part of the channel."
"There's this huge audience that I could only call them the 'Peter is love, Peter is life people'. They worship that guy, they buy into his whole scheme of the greatest of all time and they're happy to do that." he pauses, and notes, "There's a certain percentage of people that have probably left my channel because of him, but I think that probably there's a slightly larger portion [who have subscribed] because of him."
"There's been some rambling, some rumblings about him making out with his own channel, so I wouldn't be surprised to see that happen at some point because I feel like Peter feels like he's beaten Clash of Clans, so maybe there are other things he could consider, other games he could try out."
Galadon himself, however, remains a one-game man. "Two years ago, there could be half a dozen games that I could rattle off that I played. I just honestly don't have time to play anything else." he laughs, "I will admit that I have a PlayStation 4, on the way. I finally broke down and bought one. I played since GTA on the PlayStation 3 so it kind of got me thinking that it might be fun to break that out and try it on the PS4."
Not that he is itching to branch out all that much. "Honestly, it's my dream job. I get paid to play video games! My mom is like, 'I should've known that someday [you'd] figure out how to play video games and get paid for it!'"
Being in contact with Supercell (the company regularly shares his videos on their social media sites), I asked Galadon his thoughts as to the future of Clash of Clans. "The Healers in Clash of Clans are probably the most underutilized troop in the game right now. I would like to see and wouldn't be surprised if we saw some major changes to Healers that made them more viable at Town Halls 8, 9 or 10."
If that happens, Galadon will be sure to cover it. Until then, for Galadon, every morning is another chance to do good work. This is, after all, his dream. "Even to this day, with as much time as I spend on it, it doesn't seem like a chore. Like 'Oh, I got to do this,' or 'I got to go answer these comments.' It's like 'No, I get to make another video!' What I am going to cover this time?"
Tune in everyday to Clash of Clans Attacks to find out.