In a tearful goodbye on Tuesday, Matthew “MatPat” Patrick announced that he would be retiring as the main host of the Game Theorist YouTube channel. For the past decade, Patrick has been consistently uploading his takes and theories on modern video games, movies, culture, and the YouTube landscape to over 18.5 million subscribers.
But this decision didn’t come easy. In the video, Patrick said that he had wanted to step down for the past three years to spend more time with his family and watch his children grow up. But when fellow YouTuber Tom Scott announced he would be leaving his channel on Jan. 1, it gave him a needed push.
“There’s a lot of these videos coming out these days, and there is going to be a lot more happening throughout this year,” Patrick said.
Scott and Patrick are far from the only two YouTubers to announce their retirement from their channels this year. Animator Hunter “MeatCanyon” Hancock, musician Seth Everman, “Minecraft” creator Jordan “CaptainSparklez” Maron, sex education YouTuber Hannah Witton, and gamer Turner “Tfue” Tenney have all announced that they have either or will soon stop posting content to their multi-million subscriber channels.
The sentiments are almost always the same: the need for views and to appease the YouTube algorithm have pigeon-holed their creative ambitions, and they feel like it’s time to try something new.
YouTube can be a crushing business, where the highs and lows are directly tied to an unknown algorithm and the whims of advertisers. That sort of work environment can be incredibly thrilling and invigorating when the times are good, but when views stop dipping or burnout drags its crusty fingers across your creative plate, it can be damning.
Large YouTubers leaving their channels is nothing new — the hole that vlogger Jenna Marbles left with her departure will never be filled. Other YouTubers even announce their retirement and then eventually come back, like Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg. Or come back in new forms, like musician George Miller, who left his shock comedy persona Filthy Frank behind to be the swooner musician Joji.
Unlike other jobs where you hand in your two-week resignation and get side eyes if you end up crawling back after a few months or a year, a YouTube channel stays online. Those videos you spend hours or days slaving over are still online, earning revenue unless they’ve been struck by the hands of demonization. Taking a break can hurt your chances with the algorithm, which prioritizes upload consistency, but your mental health should always come first. You can’t create good videos if you hate what you are doing.