Interview: Rise of Achievement Hunter
From two guys in a small office to a live Let’s Play gaming show on stage with an audience of almost 2000. We catch up with senior producer Jack Pattillo to talk YouTube, dedicated fans and screwing around in Minecraft
What is it about Let’s Plays that draws such a big audience?
We treat our Let’s Plays as if you were joining us on a couch. There is at least one person in our squad that you can relate to. The pro player, the lazy guy, the angry dude, the aloof guy… there is someone for everyone and I think people like that a lot.
You recently held Let’s Play Live, a live show at the ACL in Austin. Tell us about that!
Let’s Play Live was an attempt to recreate the chaos and fun of our Let’s Plays while on a stage in front of almost 2000 people. The idea was to take our normal shows and put together things that we could never do if we just uploaded our videos to YouTube. We wanted to make it an experience that no one has seen before.
The idea of paying to watch someone play games in a theatre would’ve seemed odd five years ago – how do you think YouTube has changed the way people play and consume games?
I’m not sure if YouTube has changed the way people play games, but it certainly has affected how games are developed. More and more we’re seeing titles now that are catered to the streaming/recording audience and I’m sure we’ll see more of that in the future.
Do you think the popularity of eSports has been helped by Let’s Play channels like yours, or vice versa?
eSports may have gotten a little boost from channels like ours, but I honestly don’t know if we made a huge difference. Our team is the furthest from a squad of professional gamers you’ll ever see. We just do it for fun, not because we are skilled at it.
Your community is a huge part of what you do – how have they helped shape your channel and how you do things?
Our community made us what we are today. We produce content for our fans and our fans are the ones who let us know what they like and what they don’t. We keep an eye on comments and threads to gauge how we are doing. We also pull people from the community when we are looking for new hires. Our last three hires have been straight from our community. They know what we do and they understand the process behind it.
Which games (or types of games) do you think produce the best Let’s Plays, and why?
The best Let’s Plays come from games were you can screw with your teammate or opponent. The most fun we have is when we’re playing cooperatively while someone is actively trying to mess us up. Pure chaos is always great.
Do you have any favourite, stand-out moments from the Let’s Plays you’ve recorded?
We’ve done so many Let’s Plays now that it is tough to single out any one. There are a few painful ones like Fuel, where we played for two hours straight driving in one direction, that we try not to think about anymore. The first few Minecraft ones were a lot of fun as well. That feeling of mutual discovery was pretty awesome.
You do jump between consoles and PC for different Let’s Plays, but of course, as Achievement Hunters, you mostly work with the Xbox. For you, what is it that sets the Xbox apart from PS4?
We like both consoles, but the Xbox has Xbox Live and that makes all the difference. The PlayStation Network is still getting it’s footing and when we’re looking to game, we always look to the Xbox first.
How much behind-the-scenes work goes into the various shows you make?
A lot of work goes on behind the scenes. We now have three full-time editors that take the footage we capture and make it in to something funny that we can upload. The planning process is something we don’t skimp on either. We’ve been doing this long enough to know that it pays to plan ahead before wasting time.
So how long does it take you to produce each video completely, from coming up with an idea and setting up, to filming and editing?
It really depends on the concept or video. Sometimes we can have a concept, film a video, edit it and have it up in the same day. Some builds in Minecraft can take weeks to finish before we jump in to them.
The Achievement Hunter team has grown a lot in the last few years, from just two of you to the 10+ people you now employ. What’s next for the Hunters?
That’s a fantastic question. We are still recovering from Let’s Play Live and are now looking at how we might expand on that, but who knows? Maybe we’ll adopt a child.
You can check out the Achievement Hunter website for the latest news and videos on the team, or check out their Let’s Play YouTube channel.