If you were to go to Philza’s Twitch channel, you would see the biggest channel in its game, with over 1 million total views and over 200 thousand subscribers, who is currently streaming one of the most popular games. Yet that was not even close to what it was this spring. Back in April, Philza was casually streaming, making barely any money at all, and only bringing in 5-10 viewers per stream. He was playing a game that was lacking in popularity and excitement, only getting around 5k twitch viewers at one time. But that was all about to change.
Philza had been playing on a Minecraft hardcore world for 5 years now. For those who do not know, once you die in a hardcore world, you cannot respawn, meaning that all your progress in the world gets lost. Philza was mining in a cave, when all of the sudden he hears zombie noises. He goes over to a ledge and starts killing some with his bow. He doesn’t see any more so he decides to go down and collect the XP, only to be met by a baby zombie in full gold armor, a creeper, and a spider. He gets lit on fire from his own sword, and eventually dies in that cave. Little did he know, this death would change his life.
The clip of him dying went viral. It was posted everywhere, by people who didn’t even currently care about Minecraft. Everyone who ever played knew how it felt to die in a world, but it would become a million times worse when you couldn’t respawn after 5 years of work. His Youtube video explaining his death got over 3 million views, and he even got to be on the BBC. This put the spotlight on Philza.
Taking advantage of his moment of fame, Philza started a new Hardcore world, and in a 24 hour stream, gained over 350 twitch prime subscribers! This was 250 more than his goal of 100. At the end of his stream he began crying, thanking everyone through his tears.
Previously, Philza would get up every morning at 6 am to catch the bus. He had worked in retail for years and would only stream for fun in the evenings. Though he continued to work his job in retail for a while once he became popular, he knew he had to quit once the first check from Twitch came in. “My manager even understood fully what was going on. He didn’t really understand why people would give me money to play a video game, but he understood the position I was in. It was do or die. You take the leap or you don’t,” he said.
Philza is now streaming full time, bringing in thousands of viewers, and is finally working at his dream job. He recently spent $2,200 dollars to upgrade his PC, and is finally going to able to be married in the US with his fiancee. “Previously it was like: Are we going to have enough money for the forms? Are we going to have enough money for the solicitors? Will I have enough money to get to London? Will I be able to get the time off? How am I going to afford the plane ticket for me and my mother to get to America? Now it’s just: What’s the date?”
This all stemmed from one viral, heartbreaking death. But that baby zombie didn’t just change his life, it changed the popularity of Minecraft. The popularity of a game on Twitch and the internet is directly correlated to how many people play it. As soon as Philza’s death went viral, it inspired people to watch his stream, which made them re-fall in love with the game a whole generation grew up with. Since that first death, he defeated the ender dragon in a new hardcore mode, died in that one, and is currently working on an even newer one.
Everyone going back to Minecraft is causing a whole Renaissance for the game and its culture. For a while, Minecraft was looked at as a children’s game with nothing much to offer. However, the recent spike in popularity is reminding everyone that it can be enjoyed by anyone. Famous Youtubers such as Pewdiepie have even gone to create whole “lets play” series, which would have been laughed at if it was done just half a year ago.
Though it may have seemed like a disaster at first, Philza’s death after 5 years turned into a blessing, allowing him not only to change his life, but also to change Minecraft.