[Written By External Partner]
Live streaming has become a popular activity over the last decade and many types of entertainment are now live streamed to allow large audiences to enjoy them in real time. While the live streaming of sports matches has been around for some time, other types such as video game streaming has become more prominent following the development of platforms like Twitch in the early 2010s.
Let’s take a look at the history of this type of gaming and consider what current trends can tell us about the future of live streaming:
Where it all began…
Live streamed gaming first emerged just over a decade ago, firstly on gaming streaming site Twitch and on other international platforms such as YouTube, HuYa and social media sites like Facebook.
Twitch is free to access and compatible with nearly all popular video streaming utilities, it displays video streams from both professional and amateur gamers. YouTube Gaming is a smaller platform still working to develop its user base, the site is able to support videos with 4K resolution at 60 fps frame rate.
While these are the two best known sites, there are a range of other streaming platforms for players to use for sharing and watching gameplay. Users in different countries tend to favour different sites and some platforms have a higher ratio of professional players to amateur players than others.
While all genres of games can be streamed, one type of live gaming that is popular is online gambling, the experience of playing online blackjack is enhanced through playing against a live dealer, these games are streamed from land-based casinos and allow players to interact with the dealer as they would in-person, making the experience more immersive and more similar to traditional casino gaming.
Live streaming has paved the way for the Esports industry
Esports is a form of competition that uses video games. While individuals and groups have competed in organized gaming contests for decades, the establishment of live streaming platforms encouraged the development of professional gaming competitions.
The esports industry is now valued at over $1 billion US dollars, with around 35 percent of this revenue coming from China where esports participation and spectatorship is a popular pastime. Most spectators are men aged between 18 and 35, however there is a growing number of female gamers interested in watching live streams of esports competitions.
As demand for this type of entertainment rose, games developers began to invest more in designing games for this purpose and providing sponsorship or funding for tournaments. The most popular type of games involved in esports are Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) and First Person Shooters (FPS).
Popular esports tournaments on Twitch include the Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) World of Warcraft, Counter strike global offensive, Dota 2, Apex Legends and Fortnite. On YouTube, Fortnite has received over 67 million views.
It is not just internet gaming sites that are live streaming these games, the sports channel ESPN also broadcasts live streams of some of the most anticipated tournaments. ESPN has been covering the League of Legends international tournament since the year 2014.
Part of the appeal of these tournaments for players is the opportunity to win large prize pools, which have been known to reach millions of dollars. For example, the 2019 Fortnite World Cup Final had a prize pool of $15.1 million while the 2019 The International pool reached almost $35 million dollars.
Gaming influencer is now a viable career choice for pro gamers
Gaming live streamers don’t just compete in competitions, some have built a substantial career from live streaming games. Streaming can be a very flexible career that allows gamers to play whatever they love all day and be paid for it.
However, in order to make enough money to live comfortably, they must first build a very large following on one or more live streaming platforms and invest a lot of time and energy into researching the types of content their audience most enjoys and finding their niche.
One gaming influencer, Mark Fischbach, also known as Markiplier has now amassed over 30 million subscribers on YouTube. He has specialized in the horror genre which has helped him to attract audiences using really unique content.
Another top influencer is Irish Seán William McLoughlin, known as Jacksepticeye, he has over half a million followers on Twitch and takes a more comedic tone in his videos. There is also SSSniperWolf, a British gamer that focuses on Call of Duty, who is one of the top female gaming influencers and top overall YouTubers. As players see the success of the gaming influencer idols on streaming sites, it is likely that more amateur gamers will begin to stream their gameplay on these platforms in the years to come. It is also predicted that more gamers will try their hand at esports tournaments, and the demographics of spectators will become more diverse as developers market to wider audiences.