“Mama, I'm a Streamler”. How to Turn Gaming Broadcasting into Work22 October 2019
Is streaming a job? Each fifth or tenth Twitch streaming cannot do without fiery discussions on this issue in live chat. Well, if it is a profession, how can one explore it? Is it enough just to buy a camera and prepare online broadcasting of your game? Let’s figure it out.
What is streaming? And what are its types?
Let's start with the beginning. In this case, streaming means direct video broadcasting. Besides gaming broadcasts, which are the most popular, there are IRL streaming (In Real Life), also known as Just Chatting. This category outcompetes a lot of flagship games in terms of popularity on Twitch.
There are various IRL streams: from simple life stories told for camera and event or traveling broadcasting to educational content like lessons on cooking, timbering, makeup, fitness, or tractor driving. In 2019, this category is one of the top five ones on Twitch, but it is just a drop in the ocean given that all the rest categories are gaming content.
Gaming streaming is described below. Even putting aside the rest types save for it, there is an enormous space for study and classification attempts. We take the most popular streaming service, Twitch, as an example. According to StreamElements (a streaming tool developer), in the second quarter of 2019, Twitch accounted for 72.2% of all the hours watched among the largest streaming platforms. We will examine other platforms and their shares in detail.
Well, Twitch. Initially, it is worth noting that major esports tournaments obtain the greatest simultaneous views. League of Legends, Dota 2, and CS:GO World Championships involve hundreds of thousands or even millions of viewers.
However, let’s focus on individual broadcasts. Streamers can be divided into:
Esports athletes: players from professional clubs who participate in certain tournaments on their behalf. They are primarily interesting to fans or those desiring to improve their gaming skills. It is also referred to players who stay out of clubs but have an esports history and take part in competitions.
Single-game streamers: people who do not play on a professional stage but focus on a single discipline. By the way, such streamers can change games from time to time, once in several years or months, but play the same option on a permanent basis. Their audience is mainly fans of a certain game. Changing a discipline, they have only about 15-20% of the regular viewers.
Streamers of different games (variety streamers): they are considered to be an elite category because of the ability to retain the audience regardless of the games they play. They frequently include the most charismatic profession representatives with an outstanding character and sense of humor, as these features are essential to keep the audience’s interest by offering appropriate content.
Surely, the above-mentioned categories are by no means comprehensive. For instance, there are popular esports commentators who are not engaged in a professional stage but are supported by their own fans enjoying their broadcasting. At the same time, streamers can be divided into those following a particular image during broadcasting or the ones acting naturally. However, it is quite enough for a basic understanding.
What is required to become a streamer: technical aspects
What you primarily need to start your streaming career is equipment:
random access memory (RAM): at least 8 GB memory is recommended, 16 GB or more is in an ideal scenario;
a video card: it should be necessarily powerful in order to render graphics of modern games, but you can use an average-capacity processor;
a microphone (a USB microphone is the best possible option: it is easy to connect, inexpensive, and with a high-quality sound);
the Web: streaming requires at least 5 Mbit download speed; the more, the better;
hardware peripherals: selecting a gaming keyboard, take into account a user-friendly position of auxiliary buttons;
a camera: some streamers run broadcasting without it, but it is more difficult to compete with those whose face is revealed to viewers. Thus, a cheap but good-quality webcam is enough for a start;
decent lighting and green canvas can significantly improve the picture, but not everyone can afford such investments at the beginning of their career;
video capture: an external video capture card is needed to broadcast console games. It is better than an internal one because of excluding the extra computer load.
We won’t dwell on technical aspects, as one can do without some of them if desired. What you should not definitely do is to describe the absence of a green background or a cool camera as a reason for putting the start of your streaming into cold storage.
Where to stream: Twitch, YouTube, Facebook Gaming, Mixer
We have already mentioned that Twitch is a leader in streaming content views, accounting for 72.2% of all the views in Q2 2019. Nevertheless, such popularity has its disadvantages. Sometimes it seems that there are more streamers than viewers. Plenty of broadcasts even fail to collect 10 simultaneous views, and streamers can be at the bottom of the heap on Twitch for months or years if they don’t give up. So, look at the other options.
The YouTube video hosting service is ranked second with a share of 19.5% within the same period. It is much more popular in the CIS countries than Twitch, which many people have heard of but do not watch it daily. Anyhow, YouTube has provided the seamless support of the streaming format only over recent years. It is still not as popular on the service as blogging.
Nonetheless, YouTube’s core advantage is the possibility to combine blogging and streaming. Moreover, popular Twitch streamers often create YouTube channels in order to show the most spectacular moments of their broadcasting.
It is also a perfect boost for newbies who fail to succeed on Twitch with their 1-2 viewers. The development of various guides and other educational videos on YouTube will allow you to upgrade your channel and find the audience that you can gradually engage in streaming. To implement this idea, you should know how to assemble videos and prepare scenarios, which streamers not always bother with.
Facebook Gaming occupies a share of 5.3%. The service’s key advantage is the possibility to show immediately your streaming to your Facebook friends and publish broadcasts in social media gaming communities. It helps streamers to find the first viewers. Note: the situation is not quite bright for the CIS countries. Very few people know about Facebook Gaming here, and the service does not offer large open gaming communities in Russian and Ukrainian.
Facebook Gaming is not appropriate for those desiring to stream in Russian and to find viewers among citizens of the Russian Federation. Besides, such popular Russian social networks as Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki have launched their own streaming tools.
According to StreamElements, Microsoft’s Mixer platform has taken only 3%. The majority of people have heard about it just due to the news that Tyler Blevins (known as Ninja), one of the most popular Twitch streamers, has concluded an individual contract with Mixer. Reportedly, Ninja has received $932 million to stream the only Mixer for 6 years.
When the popular Fortnite streamer, who was the first to collect more than 10 million subscribers at the time, left Twitch, users predicted the rapid growth of the new platform and the failure of Twitch. But the prediction has not come true yet. Mixer’s advantage includes the convenient integration with Microsoft's other products, in particular, Xbox One console and Windows 10 OS. The competition is much lower here than on Twitch, but the audience is small.
What to play?
The only correct answer to this question: you should stream games that you like and play. Having excellent gaming skills, you will easily find people wishing to monitor them and learn something new. It’s important to stress that viewers always see when streamers are obsessed with the gameplay and when they play in a slipshod manner. Indeed, it is a pleasure to monitor enthusiasts enjoying their activity.
At the same time, you can get bored with your favorite game or want to vary your streaming. Therefore, let’s review the following options.
Flagship games with the permanent viewer base. For example, League of Legends, Dota 2, and CS:GO that have not lost their popularity for years. Take into account that the competition in these niches is pretty high, and there is no point to stream that same Dota if you fail to offer something unique and absent in thousands of other streaming.
New games. An opportunity to gain a highly anticipated game before its release is an incredible way to draw attention to your streaming. Unfortunately, this is a rare chance. Therefore, you’d better consider recent releases or beta versions by major studios. It is more reliable than to stream new solutions by little-known developers.
For example, Riot Games – the author of League of Legends – has introduced two novelties of the beloved universe this year: Teamfight Tactics Auto Battler (in the open beta version) and Legends of Runeterra collectible card game (limited access). A month after the release, Teamfight Tactics was setting records on Twitch and only eventually dropped in the rating, staying in the top 20-30 list. Legends of Runeterra was launched recently due to the tenth anniversary of League of Legends. On October 16, it was massively broadcasted by many popular (not really popular) streamers. Afterwards, the game entered the top 3 list on Twitch.
On October 17, Legends of Runeterra occupied the first position.
How to earn?
Do not start streaming, hoping that you will gather a stable audience after the first broadcast and earn millions or thousands of dollars in a month. Or some kind of money. The only way to avoid disappointment is to perceive this activity as a hobby that can result in some money in the future.
When you find a proper niche, learn how to chat, and get 100 simultaneous regular viewers, pay attention to monetization. Of course, you can adjust donations with a smaller audience, but revenues will be doubtful.
To join the Twitch affiliate program, you have to pass an individual check on the average amount of simultaneous views, although there are no specific figures as of today (500 viewers earlier). It is preferable to give at least three broadcasts in a week and adhere to the platform rules. The popularity does not protect streamers from ban.
Advantages of Twitch partnership are available here.
Another possibility to earn is to cooperate with advertisers directly. Streamers receive the specified sum of money for advertising integrations (banners, word-of-mouth recommendations, links in chat, online display of services or products). Not many people can use this type of earnings because few advertisers are ready to invest in streaming. They prefer YouTube blogs.
Donations. Perhaps, this is what encourages the majority of young and talented individuals to start streaming. Those unfamiliar to this sector are surprised by the fact that viewers can just send money to support streamers. Sums of such donations even horrify them.
We know cases when Twitch streamers obtained $40,000 (Ninja), $57,000 (Sodapoppin), and $75,000 (ExoticChaotic) as one donation.
Donators may have different motivations: from a simple desire to support their favorite players or to set up pranks against hypothetical streamers. One of the efficient and simple methods of baiting donations is fundraising for certain needs. For example, for a new camera or a computer to improve streaming quality, etc. Just use your imagination.
Is it worth doing?
It’s up to you to decide. If somebody wants to turn streaming into a profession in order to get rich and become famous, it’s better to consider simpler ways. Blogging, for instance. But if you treat broadcasting as a hobby, entertainment, communication, and precious experience that may result in profit in the future, it is worth trying.
Good luck. Prior to activating your broadcasting on Twitch, make sure that you are ready for MonkaS. Kappa.