‘I Wouldn’t Have Had It Any Other Way’: YouTuber MatPat Says Goodbye

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Credit: Daniel Prakopcyk for Rolling Stone
Credit: Daniel Prakopcyk for Rolling Stone

When YouTube star and game legend MatPat speaks to Rolling Stone, he’s 24 hours from one of the biggest changes of his life. For almost a decade, MatPat, whose real name is Matthew Patrick, has been the main host of Game Theorists, a popular YouTube show that eventually expanded into a multi-channel empire. But that all changes on Saturday, March 8, when Patrick will post his last video as a host of Game Theorists, saying goodbye to the past 14 years of his life and hopefully, hello to a future where other creators like him feel like retiring isn’t a distance dream, but an attainable possibility.

“There’s a lot of celebration, nostalgia,” Patrick tells Rolling Stone. “It’s been a wave of emotions. There have been moments over the course of the last month where there’s that recognition of, this is the last time that I’m stepping into the recording booth or this is the last time that I’m saying this particular catchphrase. [Bittersweet] is the best emotion to describe it.”

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In the years since Patrick and his wife, Stephanie, first launched the Game Theorists, the channel has become famous for its in-depth analysis of popular fan theories for video games like Five Nights At Freddy’s and Mass Effect. It has expanded into a team with several other hosts, with videos focusing on topics like fashion, cooking, and pop culture. Today, Game Theorists is a YouTube staple, with 19.1 million subscribers on the main channel alone, and hundreds of millions of views every month. But that kind of accomplishment requires a massive amount of effort, a dedicated team, and for Patrick, years of working himself into the ground.

“When you’re one person running five separate channels, and you’re producing anywhere between eight and 13 videos a week that all feature you, it’s a lot,” he says. “And there’s no wiggle room in that schedule. Not having that ticking clock hanging over my head is going to be incredibly refreshing. It’ll be nice to get more than four hours of sleep in a night.”

On Jan. 4, Patrick  announced in a tearful video titled “Goodbye Internet” that March 9, 2024, would be his last day hosting “Game Theorists.” But saying goodbye isn’t a solitary decision. He and Stephanie have run the channel with his friend and chief creative officer Jason Parker since the beginning. So as a group, they decided to announce Patrick’s retirement in a 10 week rundown, to allow time for fans to grieve. But for them, the process has also reinvigorated their love of the brand.

“For the three of us, it’s been this wonderful process of bringing us back to what got us started in the first place, which is making videos together because we’re having fun,” Patrick says. “It’s been so rewarding to have that moment and to be able to finish on such a high note together.

In retiring fully from his host role, Patrick becomes one of several iconic YouTube stars, like Minecraft streamer CaptainSparklez and science YouTuber Tom Scott, quitting to find other ways to build their brands besides starring in a grueling and constant production schedule.  In 2022, Patrick and Stephanie announced the sale of Theorist Media, Game Theorists’s company, to Lunar X, a U.K.-based digital creator startup. The partnership, they said, would allow Patrick and Stephanie to continue to produce their full slate of videos, and deal less with the business side. With the space freed up from no longer hosting videos, Patrick says he’s excited to have more to help make key decisions for Theorist programming while letting other team members take the spotlight.

Lunar X CEO Lucas Kollmann tells Rolling Stone that as the YouTube ecosystem has developed, the speed of production means many creators have built massive franchises and companies around their work — but haven’t considered what it could look like to retire. Now, as more original YouTube creatives start to think about a life outside of filming 24/7, Kollman is hopeful that others can use Patrick’s path as a way to pass the torch to younger generations.

“Giving all of these channels their own voice and creating a bit more diversity between the channels is something that excites me,“ Kollman says. “YouTube is a young platform and neither myself nor Matt are getting any younger. So having people now that are a little bit younger and can also speak to the next generation is great for the business.”

Patrick’s work with Game Theorists has been so prolific that there’s no aspect of gaming and fandom that hasn’t been touched by his YouTube career. And it’s not just Theorist viewers who’ve acknowledged Patrick’s long legacy. In fall 2023, Patrick had a cameo in the Blumhouse film Five Nights At Freddy’s, based on the indie video game that The Game Theorist channels spent years debating and theorizing about. For Patrick, who only started posting on YouTube because he was struggling to find a job in acting, getting to be a part of the film felt like a crowning moment — one he’ll continue to look back on.

“At a certain point in my life, I realized that theater was not an industry that I wanted to pursue professionally anymore and I had to close the door on that part of my life,” he says. “So to get invited to be a part of the movie, and to see audiences have such huge reactions to that that brief little cameo was so unbelievably rewarding and simultaneously showed me that life works in the strangest ways. It gave me a sense of finality, closure, and emotional satisfaction because it just verified that the path that I took was the correct path for me. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.”

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