Earning a Living Streaming Video Games – A few years ago, few people took the idea of earning a living playing video games seriously. If you wanted to pursue a living playing videos games, the only option seemed to be game testing. Now, dedicated gamers have forged new paths. Streaming has emerged as one of the most lucrative ways to earn a living in video games. Not only are streamers earning a living, but some are making small fortunes based on people watching them play video games.
Why People Watch Streamers
To many, the idea of people wanting to sit around and watch someone else play video games seems unlikely. However, there are a range of reasons why this has caught on. In some cases, people enjoy watching someone play a video game that they cannot afford to purchase, but still want to get the game experience. In other cases, it is because the streamers have interesting personalities and are entertaining to watch. A streamer’s personality and the quality of their commentary can help attract an audience. Also, people want to watch someone who is really good at a game and often, the top competitors are also streamers.
Another key element is the creation of a community. What sets streaming apart from other forms of entertainment is that you can engage with the hosts and other viewers. Acknowledgement from the streamer can help people feel involved in the show. Many viewers form connections to streamers they regularly watch, as well as other viewers on the channel. In a way, it is the digital version of a bunch of friends hanging around a living room watching someone play. A sense of community is what keeps people coming back.
How Much Do They Make Streaming?
There are countless streamers and only a small subset of them are making a living. The challenge is that it usually takes months or years of making little to no money before it becomes a viable way to support yourself. According to Nowloading, the average professional streamer makes between $2,000 and $5,000 a month. The income from streaming alone will depend on the number of views and subscribers, but there are a lot of other ways for streamers to make money.
A select few are making hundreds of thousands a year. This Forbes article indicates that the best paid streamers make around $100,000 a year from streaming alone, but with additional related sources of revenue they could be making $300,000 a year. That is a lot of money for playing video games. According to this GQ article, streamer Michael ‘Imaqtpie’ Santana earned $8,000 from streaming in a month. While the income can be inconsistent, Santana’s example shows that perseverance can lead to big rewards.
How Do Streamers Make Money?
Streamers can make decent money from streaming alone, but many are able to make even more cash from other opportunities that come from building an audience. To earn money from a channel, streamers can become Twitch partners and get a cut of the subscription fees from their channel. The split for the $4.99 fee is typically 50%, but can go up to 60%. They can also earn money by allowing ads on their stream. More ad revenue can be generated by putting videos from the stream on YouTube.
Streamers can also receive donations or gifts from their viewers. Viewers can choose to send money to a streamer for a variety of reasons. Some just want to support someone they like, other times the gift may be tied to a specific goal. In a New Yorker article Robert ‘Towilliee’ Garcia tells a story about asking his audience to help him keep going for another month and receiving a gift of $1,500. These kinds of gifts play a large part in supporting streamers, especially when they are first starting out.
Another big source of income is through sponsorships. Streamers are offered sponsorships from a broad range of companies. While they are usually gaming related, such as gaming chair companies, some have nothing to do with gaming, like cold brew coffee. There are a lot of online resources to help streamers find sponsorships. For instance, the website Hello Gamers was setup to help streamers find sponsors.
Streamers are sometimes paid to play specific games. This is similar to sponsorship, because a company is paying a streamer to promote their product. In these cases, a developer will pay a streamer to play their new game in order to promote it to the streamer’s audience.
Many streamers are also competitive players. In some cases, competing can be more lucrative than streaming. If you are going to play long hours to train for competitions, you may as well stream to gain that extra source of income.
One of the things you may not have expected is that streamers can make thousands of dollars for appearances. Popular streamers are often asked to appear at events and conferences. These appearances can be extremely lucrative, if the streamer is willing to put up with the difficult lifestyle involved with regular travel, on top of a demanding streaming schedule.
Another way that some streamers earn money is through modeling. Sometimes streamers begin modeling after building an audience streaming. Other times, people have built an audience modeling and use that audience to launch their streaming careers. For instance, Jessica Nigri built a large following for her cosplay modeling and was able to transfer some of that audience to her streaming channel.
Getting Started Streaming
Has this article got you interested in trying streaming for yourself? Don’t expect easy money though. Getting started requires putting in long hours with no pay while building an audience. In an article on Mashable, successful streamer Jeffery ‘Trump’ Shih says that he had to work another job to support himself during his first year streaming and he had relatively early success. Similarly, Robert ‘Towilliee’ Garcia told the New Yorker that attracting viewers required nearly non-stop streaming. Even after a year of streaming, Garcia reported being broke, but six years in, he sometimes makes several thousand dollars in a day. The lesson here is that if you want to be a successful streamer, making six figures, you need to put in the hours. It also probably wouldn’t hurt to be really good at a game or have a decent personality.
This article was brought to you by Game Authority. You can check their website here.