Gaming

The Exploding Business of Game Streaming

The Exploding Business of Game Streaming

The concept of watching others play video games is alien to many people. In fact, a little over a decade ago, the practice would have been almost entirely unheard of. 

Today, on the other hand, video game streaming is a booming business and sees millions of people tune in to watch their favourite players compete in tournaments or just performatively comment on their gaming sessions. 

Demand for this type of content is huge. The best-known streaming personalities have millions of followers and clock up just as many views on their videos. 

The most successful streamers can earn millions each year from their work, while the platforms that they use to broadcast themselves can generate billions in ad revenue. 

With so much money at stake and so many people interested in it, it’s little wonder that the industry is exploding. 

What is a Video Game Stream and How Does it Work?

A video game stream is a live broadcast of a game while it is being played. Generally, it will contain three main components:

  • The game itself, which is usually taking up the majority of the screen
  • The player who will, typically, position a separate feed from a camera pointed at them in the corner
  • A chat box where viewers can send messages to the streamer and other viewers

The stream will then run for anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours, with the streamer playing a game (or several games) as they comment on their actions or just deliver a monologue about something else. 

What Games Can You Find on Streaming Sites?

With very little effort, you can find live streams for almost every single video game, as well as board games like chess. Some of the most-watched and most-subscribed-to of these are League of Legends (133 million hours streamed a month), Grand Theft Auto V (128 million hours streamed a month), and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (87 million hours streamed a month). 

Casino games are also a hit on streaming sites with viewers watching along as players broadcast their bets in online casinos, often narrating the through process behind betting decisions or crowd-sourcing strategies. 

Video slots are a big part of casino streaming. On Twitch alone, there are over 800,000 subscribers with some individual streams attracting tens of thousands of concurrent viewers and hundreds of thousands overall. There is a wide variety of slot games ranging from titles like Tomb of Ra that are themed around Egyptian mythology to ones like Deal or No Deal Megaways that are based on popular TV games. This variety means that slot streamers can create a lot of different content by simply choosing a different one each time. 

Is Streaming a Viable Business?

A lot of money is flying around in the streaming industry at the moment. Some platforms like Twitch and Facebook Gaming have signed exclusivity deals with the most popular streamers. In 2020, the former agreed multi-year deals with several big names including Jogh “JoghOG” Beaver, Jayrd “Summit1G” Lazar, and Brett “Dakotaz” Hoffman. These three alone have over 10 million followers which made them attractive to the Amazon-owned company. 

For these successful content creators, there is a lot of money to be made, although they have to do a lot of work for it. Many are in front of their cameras for anywhere between four and 10 hours a day, and then they have other work to handle after that. 

For streaming sites, the huge revenues don’t necessarily convert into profits. According to Creator Hype, Twitch barely breaks even, despite making over $1.5 billion (£1.12 billion) in revenue. That is expected to change in the coming years though as economies of scale should help to lower costs while income rises. 

Then there are the advertisers and sponsors that make up the majority of the money made by streamers and platforms. For these companies, they can get a lot of value by advertising on gaming streams. 

With millions of hours watched every month, they’re getting their products, services, and brands thrust in front of a lot of potential customers. Due to the digital nature of the industry, careful targeting can also be achieved, making it both a precision tool and a blunt instrument. 

Demand for streaming content doesn’t seem like it will wane any time soon. This new form of entertainment has taken hold among certain demographics and created a new lucrative industry for those that have the time and resources to make and serve the content.

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