You can make $18,000 a month by playing games?

Forsenlol, a well-known Heartstone streamer, made a huge mistake by revealing his earnings from Twitch donations totalling well over $1,000 in a single day. But there is more – Twitch streamers are paid at least $3.50 per 1,000 people watching an ad plus a few dollars per subscription. I am not finished yet – big streamers partner with G2A, an online gaming marketplace. Such partnership means they can give their viewers discount code in exchange for attracting new customers to G2A (and purchases in their shop mean a few dollars for the streamers).

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But Twitch, e-sport and online streaming are much more than just a way of making money. For millions of people, it is a form of entertainment. In fact, billions tune in to watch others play video games. League of Legends tops the ranking with over 1 billion hours watched in 2016. LoL is so popular that it has own series of tournaments which, besides an audience in a studio, attracts as many as 43 million unique viewers worldwide and is broadcasted in 18 languages. And the winners of World Championship in 2016 got to keep a nice chunk of $6.7 million prize pool. Esport is so popular that it has been added as a medal sport to 2022 Asian Games. Olympics, beware.

League of Legends Showmatch @Gamescom 20” (CC BY 2.0) by wuestenigel

Why is esport so attractive? It is a mind sport which requires precision, team play and split-second decision making. A game of League can be as unpredictable as a football match. Each objective (a tower, baron or dragon) brings a team closer to victory, but a single bad decision can lead to a huge throw (if none of these words makes sense, I recommend having a look at this guide to online video games). A baron steal could be game-changing and, if you are as geeky as me, you’ll be sitting on the edge of your seat during this video which proves how random this game can be:

But besides leagues, tournaments, championships and all that high life, there is a huge community of Twitch streamers. Some are professional players, some are just ordinary people who happen to be very good at the game. Some treat streaming as their full-time job, others see it as a hobby. Nevertheless, most of the most watched people are, in fact, those we know from the professional scene. If you want to stream, don’t expect huge crowds. When Faker, a legend of League of Legends, started to stream – it was a different story. A record number of people, 245,100 to be exact, tuned in to watch him play. There are a few Twitch-born stars – take, for example, AnnieBot, however, a professional background definitely gives streamer a head start. Iamaqtpie is an example of an ex-professional player turned Twitch legend. He used to be a Dignitas member but now his stream has over 1.5 million followers.

The truth is, we, ordinary gamers, won’t make $18,000 a month from live streaming (clickbait title, sorry). Nevertheless, these numbers and statistics give us a sense of the scale of popularity of live streaming. Surely, it must be a huge business if Amazon and Google competed to buy Twitch, which was finally acquired by the former for $970 million. The thirst for let’s plays is not a new phenomenon – the biggest YouTuber, PewDiePie, rose to fame thanks to his gameplay videos. Twitch only took this concept to the next, more spectacular level.

Now that you know it all, will you live stream your next Sims session?

Featured image: “NaNiwa” (CC BY 2.0) by Denis Dervisevic