Dmitri Potapoff, a “Professional Russian” YouTube persona, has a gamer’s dream gig: getting paid to shoot guns. Big guns.
The man pulling the trigger—reportedly an American named Kyle Myers—declined to be interviewed out of character, and even then only via email. But as Potapoff, toting heavy-duty weapons of all kinds and a somewhat convincing accent, he hosts a live-action series dedicated to displaying the power of various firearms. His show, FPSRussia, has more than 1.6 million subscribers, making it the 16th most followed channel on YouTube. One highlight of his shtick: Potapoff gleefully delights in blowing away the likeness of Justin Bieber.
The power of such a platform hasn’t been lost on marketers. A Sept. 1 episode featured Potapoff wielding an exploding crossbow, just like the one in id Software’s highly anticipated game Rage, to blow up a mannequin styled after a mutant from the title. Already it has netted 3 million views. A July video integrating a trailer for the movie 30 Minutes or Less and a flamethrower has drawn more than 6.4 million views.
FPSRussia also generates a stream of income via a relationship with Machinima, a Los Angeles-based content company that places ads on user-generated channels. Just don’t expect to see any for the next Bieber album.