How Discord Accidentally Broke a YouTube Record

Discord Loot boxes view bot youtube video still
Martyshova Maria/Shutterstock Discord/YouTube

In December 2023, video game developer Rockstar released a trailer on YouTube for one of the most anticipated titles of all time, Grand Theft Auto 6. In just 24 hours, it received 90 million views. It even earned a Guinness Book of World Records award for the most viewed non-music video in 24 hours.

But on Monday, Discord snatched that title away with an April Fools Joke. 

Discord Loot Boxes are here” is a silly 17-second video advertising a link to click on boxes that open one of nine random pieces. Though these loot boxes are sometimes free, they often cost real-world money, putting a gambling mechanic behind getting that one piece of gear you are looking for. It’s one of the most detested practices in gaming. It’s even banned in some countries.

The whole thing would have just been a normal April Fools Joke. But Discord’s little prank is currently sitting at 1.4 billion views. That makes it one of the most-watched videos on the entire platform that’s not a music video or aimed at babies.

It also means that nearly 18 percent of the world’s population watched the gag. Or, there’s something else going on here. 

When the video first dropped, social media users noticed it was pulling in hundreds of millions of views in minutes. Many wondered if Discord was “view botting” on YouTube. View bots watch a video without human eyes, essentially inflating the view rate. People often use bots to game the advertising system and earn more revenue. 

On April 1, Discord greeted users with a message that auto-played the video, sometimes multiple times if a user didn’t close it. This caused every person who opened Discord to count as a view on the video. For context, Discord has about 154 million monthly active users, according to Statista.

The messaging platform responded on X to the video with memes and jokes to fans. YouTube has yet to say anything. 

According to Google’s Fake Engagement Policy, “YouTube doesn’t allow anything that artificially increases the number of views, likes, comments, or other metrics either by using automatic systems or serving up videos to unsuspecting viewers.” If a creator breaks this policy, YouTube can terminate their account.

Though it doesn’t seem to have happened on purpose, Discord’s accidental record break could have broken this policy. My guess is the video will get a few days in the spotlight before being sanctimoniously ripped from the platform. 

The joke also helped cover up Discord’s less-than-tasteful news they announced in a blog post in early March, which gained momentum this week after the Wall Street Journal picked it up on March 30.

The news is that the platform will start showing ads for video games they are calling sponsored “Quests.” The previously most popular messaging app, Skype, lost its throne because it was so bloated with ads. Discord was able to take its spot by being ad-free. Discord’s funny joke knocked the news down the Google News ranking of this important update.   

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