Live streaming has been around since the earliest days of the internet, but the game really changed in 2011 when Twitch began live-streaming video games. But what exactly is it?
In one way we can think of think of live streaming as a real-time walkthrough -but presented as entertainment, as opposed to getting you out of a jam. But the best way to think of live game streaming is as a broadcast.
A live games streamer isn’t uploading videos, they are playing a game, commentating on the action or making observations whilst interacting with their audience. All in real time.
Live streaming is unedited and largely spontaneous with the game providing the basis for subject-matter. This makes it an interactive experience in which the audience can provide instant feedback, giving it an attractive social/inclusive edge that everyone can enjoy.
Before we get into how to be a live game streamer, let’s take a brief look at some of the games people are playing/watching. But we’ll start with checking out some of the live-streaming channels, beginning with the one that popularised the genre.
With 140 million plus viewers (believed to be 65% male) Amazon-owned Twitch is the largest livestreaming service on the planet. It does come with ads, though you can pay to get rid of them.
With 30 million users, Caffeine isn’t as popular as Twitch, its resolution isn’t as defined, and it’s not as focused on gaming. But it’s free with no ads.
Facebook has attempted to get in on the scene with Facebook Gaming, and it’s not bad, especially when it comes to connecting with Facebook users. But it’s not as easy to make money -more on that later.
It’s a similar story with Owncast when it comes to monetizing your skills, plus, it’s fiddly to install and you’ll even need your own server. However, it is customizable and ad-free.
For now, Mobcrush isn’t for live streaming, but it’s a useful resource to keep all of your shows in one place.
We’re going to pull our examples from Twitch when it comes to how much money a live streamer can make. And you may be surprised to learn that you don’t need that many viewers to start making money, however, there is a lot of competition.
- 10 (on average) viewers can earn up to $200 per month
- 100 (on average) viewers can earn up to $1500 per month
- 1000 (on average) viewers can earn up to $5000 per month
- 5000 (on average) viewers can earn up to $13,000 per month
- 10,000 (on average) viewers can earn up to $30,000 per month
- With 70,000 (on average) views top Twitcher xQc earns $300,000 per month!
No wonder it’s become popular, I mean who doesn’t want to get paid a load of money for doing something they love?! But what are the most popular games? Top of the list isn’t a game it’s ‘Just Chatting’ -basically, broadcasting yourself doing or talking about stuff…
Then it’s a bunch of great games at the time of going to press: ‘Grand Theft Auto V’, ‘League of Legends’, ‘Valorant’, ‘Counterstrike: Global Offensive’. It would seem that, broadly, action games have the edge, but there are other categories, with some growing faster than others.
A good example is the rise of live-streamed casino games, for example, in 2020, 224 million hours’ worth of poker and pokies were watched. By 2021 that number increased was up by 57% to 352 million hours. As the number of people playing casino games online continues to grow, so does the number of people live-streaming themselves playing casino games. For those players who are playing pokies at an online site, they may opt to stream themselves playing a type of pokies game to show other players what the reel payline options are, as well as giving them a taster of the theme. Other players will stream games such as poker to help teach other players different strategies to use when playing a game of online poker.
But why be a live stream fan when you can be a live-stream player?
For a start, you’re going to need more than fast broadband and state-of-the-art gaming equipment. You’ll need, at least, a good quality microphone, video equipment and some home studio lighting too.
All of this can add up to a pretty penny and you can’t afford to be cheap with quality if you’re serious. And it might be worth mentioning now that spending money on the right gear is the least of your worries!
You won’t be much use if you’re rubbish at playing games, so get to know one game inside and out before you do anything. And while you’re doing that, play it without a break for hours while talking to unseen strangers as if they’re friends.
Sure, you can learn to play a video game well with practice, but presenting skills need to come naturally. And then you’ll need to refine them in real-time, hopefully without putting off your audience.
Being a live streamer isn’t as easy as it sounds and it’s expensive to get started. But get it right and, well, the sky’s the limit…
*These figures levelled out in the summer of 2023 when Twitch only allowed casino sites licensed in the U.S. onto its platform