Online content is finite. The belief that our favorite articles, artwork, or videos will be available online for perpetuity is misguided. While uploading content to the internet ensures our writings and videos can survive the wear and tear of time, a content rights holder could remove years worth of popular work in a Thanos-esque snap.

Machinima, a popular gaming YouTube channel with over 12 million subscribers, experienced just that. As late as January 18, nearly all of Machinima’s videos were placed on private, making the vast majority of the channel’s library unwatchable.

Machinima’s video removal was unexpected. Most of these videos used in-game graphics to tell unique narratives, a painstaking process, but now that work may be lost for good. Both creators and long time viewers were blindsided by the content deletion. RIP Machinima began trending on Twitter as former Machinima talents like Ricky Hayberg lamented how seven years of hard work had been “lost to the sands of time.”

The content purge occurs as Machinima is being phased out of existence. AT&T, Machinima’s parent company, laid off 10% of staff across the organization in December 2018 and subsequently restructured the media conglomerate. According to a leaked message to Machinima content creators, Machinima was placed into AT&T daughter company Otter Media’s and later into its subsidiary Fullscreen in January 2019.

Otter Media portrays the content deletion as business as usual. “We are focused on creating new content with the Machinima team, which will be distributed on new channels to be announced in the coming months,” Otter Media said in a statement to Kotaku UK. “In the meantime the Machinima network of creator channels continues to showcase the talents of the network. As part of this focus on new content, we have pivoted from distributing content and a handful of legacy operated channels.”

Until then, Machinima’s legacy has been pivoted from YouTube and into the trash.

Riley Constantine
Contributor. Riley Constantine is Iowa's third greatest export behind Slipknot and life insurance. She loves to review movies and games while examining how they often mirror the bizarre world we live in.

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    6 Comments

    1. I had wondered what happened to one of my favourite Fallout 3 music videos . . .
      Well, shit. Time to start archiving everything I enjoy on Youtube, I suppose.

    2. Jeez. I hope they didn’t pull a Defy Media and steal millions from their partners.

    3. This is just flat out terrible.

    4. That’s digital media for you. If it were up to these cavemen-minded companies, 21st century pop culture would leave no trace of ever having existed. Video games, tv shows, music; everything would vanish from existence in a poof of license expiration-voodooery. A few hundred years on, our time might very well look like the second Middle Ages.

      At any rate, this:

      Until then, Machinima’s legacy has been pivoted from YouTube and into the trash.

      … was brilliant and got me to chuckle heartily.

      1. Future archeologists will know everything about us from the crap saved on millions of discarded hard drives and smart phones buried all around the world. I’m sure they’ll be disappointed with us until they find out we 3D printed artificial bones, then they’ll wonder how the culture that created Here Comes Honey Boo Boo could also do that.

    5. On the one hand, after the lifetime contracts, confidential ‘influencer’ deals and a whole bunch of other stuff getting crushed under AT&T’s boot is an almost perfect end for Machinima.
      .
      But, it serves as yet another point to drive home the dangers of the push towards an ‘everything as service’ economy. Machinima’s death won’t do it, but the eventual downfall of something like Youtube or Steam (all services end eventually) must surely lead to some kind of rights to access legislation cropping up. Or it won’t and somebody else will pop up to sell you access to things you already paid for.
      .
      In a way this mirrors the pre-archiving days of television, with tapes recorded, scrubbed and re-used as many times as possible. That lost us the early Dr Who and Dad’s Army episodes, I wonder what will be considered the lost treasures of the Youtube Years.

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