I see what you're getting at, but these are two different things. The vast majority of humanity as a whole is just not capable of sitting down and chewing through a deep learning textbook or anything of the sort.
What you're ignoring is just how accessible streaming is as an income method. Up until recently, all you needed was the equipment (< $2000-3000 - sometimes paid for by sponsors, often equipment that people already have in modern times) and to be half-way charismatic in order to get into it.
Add in the promise of big money and 'superstars' and now every kid wants to ~be in a band~ be a streamer.
There's a streamer (iateyourpie) who makes a living from mostly playing Mario games, and usually not even being a speedrun WR-holder, just being an entertaining person who markets himself well.
They can claim ad revenue, but they can't take donations or (I hope) subscriptions.
It seems you are conflating Twitch streaming with e-sports, they are two very different things. Becoming a successful Twitch streamer doesn't necessarily require extraordinary skills in terms of playing a given game; switching to a new game wouldn't be that big of a deal and some streamers switch regularly on a weekly or daily basis (e.g. my favourite streamer, who is a full-time Twitch streamer and has 175k followers, plays more or less regularly at least 5-6 different games).
I agree with you on the "big brother" part, but then again this is a characteristic of any career path that can potentially lead to notoriety (acting, pro sports, etc).
1] Likes watching game A.
2] Likes watching streamer K
The first group choose the game, and then the streamer who is online and most enjoyable to watch playing it. The second choose the streamer and will watch whatever they're doing.
Arguably the advantage that the variety streamers have is that pro games don't eat into their viewers. I'll watch arteezy play dota whilst cookin or something, but only if there's no proper matches on with teams I like. I suspect that SingSing will always have a few thousand viewers because his followers are passionate about watching him.
No one hires people to do deep learning with 0 years experience.
Very few people with the skills you assume by default (basically anyone with programming skills) would be convinced to leave their cooshy jobs, but plenty of people with no skills or prospects would.
Just a passing mention of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, a game which according to some is growing faster than Minecraft did. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) is the most popular streamed game on Twitch right now. The game regularly has over 2,000,000 concurrent players, has sold over 13,000,000 copies, and is still in beta with just one multiplayer map. It has been the most popular game on Steam for a few months. Some digital items obtained from loot crates have sold for over $1,000.
There is a whole ecosystem that has developed underneath the Twitch platform where secondary services help gamers overlay responsive graphics over the video stream as well as take donations. Top PUBG streamers can make well over $1,000 per night in donations on top of their cut of the Twitch subscription fee.
There's no need to specifically mention your favorite streamer, or your favorite game. Just because PUBG is popular right now doesn't mean this is a phenomenon centered around PUBG. There have been many streamers making A LOT of money for years now. League of Legends, Counterstrike, and DotA 2, for example, have always had large fan bases with "Top streamers" making similarly ridiculous amount of money in tips.
That particular streamer is changing the streaming game and is invested in some third party streamer support apps. He has broad appeal as little kids dressed up as this Twitch streamer for Halloween this year.
I think an article about the game, its streamers, the revenue sharing, and how Twitch is evolving would make the front page of HN.
That is all. No hidden agenda.
He's not really changing the streaming game. There's streamers out there much more successful than he is (Lirik, Shroud, IcePoseidon, etc, etc.) Don't get me wrong, he's fun to watch, but no mention of him isn't a big deal in the least.
I've seen so many knockoffs of him recently its kinda disturbing.
AFAIK PUBG was made in response to other games that used to be popular in the genre failing after major changes, specifically H1Z1.
EDIT: Fair-cop to them though, they've obviously done a greaat job. It's just that games like this are already coming out constantly, it's the new genre to clone. Before battle royale was that hot genre, it was MOBAs + survival games a few years ago and MMOs were a few years before that. Battle Royale is actually a sort of spin off out of the survival genre. Another interesting thing to note is that survival/battle royale games have a lot of indie entrants who tend to have long alpha phases where hype makes them incredibly popular (DayZ, 7 days to die, Rust, Ark: Survial Evolved, Unturned, Don't Starve). Then the player base can sometimes die off as the game suffers from poor performance and slow development.
At the moment PUBG is suffering from lots of hackers, so we'll see whether it actually stays popular.
 Multiplayer online battle arena (5v5, top down, team game), spawned from a mod made for warcraft 3, popular examples include league of legends, DOTA2, Heroes of the Storm, etc.
Dr Disrespect is amazing. He is an online performer and a gamer.
Most surprising are the people who talk about how watching Dr D has helped them through depression or cancer. He talked about this movingly but briefly in his speech this week.
This is a whole new form of entertainment. It will be fascinating to see where it unfolds. I think Amazon will get a very good return for their investment.
It's too easy to turn off my brain and be 'entertained' for hours. I've recently forced myself back to watching films/TV instead. The difference in creative stimulation is like night & day.
Never say never. I am sure there are people who do, probably not with much success.
Its this play by proxy I now think is one of the main draws.
I have been encouraged to stream by others myself, and do every once in a while on hitbox. Maybe I should give it a real try.
Is that funny? To me it just sounds racist...
just because you find racism humorous doesn't mean it isn't offensive.
And as far as mentions go, there’s no word on pewdiepie either, he’s one of the pioneer of the genre along with videogamdunkey...
The whole article reeks of “I know nothing about it so must be new” mentality.
That's been happening for years. Hats in Team Fortress 2 sold for ~1500 (Burning Kabuto was around there IIRC), and a knife in CSGO went for 24k (apparently, http://read.navi-gaming.com/en/team_news/Rarest_and_expensiv...).
CounterStrike and Team Fortress have been full fledged releases for many years prior to reaching those numbers.
Its not the absolute number that is impressive, its how quickly it has reached comparable values with these longstanding behemoths.
I never got the attraction to Twitch/game streaming. Before I came across Dr D/PUBG, I used Twitch to see if a game was interesting & simple enough to grasp, to assist in the purchase decision.
The Dr D/PUBG combo (and a few other lesser-known faves, e.g. BananaMan, P4wnyhof/Larsen) have made it fun to watch, actual entertainment, that I tune into. Daily...
Last time I looked nothing from current crates were going for that much it was just the special items from the pre-order crates that were going for that much, which is a pretty important difference I think.
I don't think it's anywhere near as popular without the Twitch streams
>The game regularly has over 2,000,000 concurrent players
Well, I think it is interesting to point out what demographics tend to play a game the most.
If the game has 1,999,999 Chinese players then, I think, that is less interesting than if it had 2,000,000 global players (from all over the place).
Not sure why you think it is so far fetched....
If anything from a streaming standpoint it's better to have a more "unified" player base, at least linguistically speaking. I doubt chinese players watch american streamers en masse, or vice-versa.
> I doubt chinese players watch american streamers en masse, or vice-versa.
I agree. But are there any streamers who make use of live closed-caption transcription + translation services, the way broadcast news does? It’d Be interesting to see if just removing the language barrier would remove the culture barrier, or if it’s more fundamental.
I understand streaming, generally, and have paid to subscribe to a channel before but the random throwing around of not insignificant amounts of money gets me scratching my head.
(Should make it clear I'm not criticizing the practice. I just find it interesting, considering how understand the psychology behind it could help creators in other spheres, or open source developers, etc.)
- Reaction from the streamer. Donations get their attention and will show (or read aloud) a message from the donor. It could be a joke, or just kind words of support.
- Interaction. Streamers will often set rewards for donations above $X. This could be something like "choose the next hero I play in Overwatch", or, as many Tabletop streamers do, "Player of your choice automatically rolls a Natural 20". These can also often turn into glutton for punishment rewards, like doing shots or eating hot peppers. Sometimes donations can trigger sound effects, e.g. a loud roar during a tense moment in a horror game.
- Competition. Someone else mentioned the "telethon" mentality of wanting to be the highest donor, and that very much applies. Streamers will often include on their channel the rankings of their top supporters.
- Milestones. Streamers will often set goals of how much they want to raise over the course of a day or month. This could be something like "help me afford a new CPU" or just "Keep the show going". If they hit it, they promise things like game giveaways, 24 hour streams, dyeing their hair a crazy color, etc.
The traditional sense of paying someone cash for something often happens in parallel: you give something and you immediately get something. I think the mentality (or, at least my mentality) with streamers and tipping is a bit different: after you've received something (e.g. entertainment for X duration), _then_ you give something (a tip). Tipping someone $100 at any point might not make total sense in the moment to someone else observing, but tipping someone $100 for e.g. the last 6 months of free entertainment makes a lot of sense to the tipper. Sure, you could get away with not tipping and make that entertainment truly free, but you also want to support those who are creating it and encourage them to make more. After all, you pay for other entertainment, and often a large tip every once in a while still evens out to (much) less than you'd pay otherwise.
Beyond that, wasn't there kind of a scandal a few years back where people would donate huge amounts to twitch streamers to make a big splash, and then cancel their donations so it didn't cost anything?
In terms of the scandal, yes, that was and still is a thing. Generally called "chargebacks", if a donor cancels the card and reports it as fraudulent, they have to pay nothing, and the streamer often has to pay a processing fee.
Two stories there: I know a streamer who pissed off one of his moderators, and the mod decided to donate to the channel repeatedly in small amounts, and cancel all of them. He had to pay a $20 fee for each one, it ended up costing hundreds.
I also had a buddy who was raising money for the charity Extra Life earlier this year, who had someone drop a donation of over $1k. The next week it was charged back, assumably costing the charity money. Some people are just not great people.
I also won't subscribe to any channels (except with the free Twitch Prime sub) because I don't watch any one channel consistently enough to justify it. But if I am watching one channel a lot some month why not donate $5?
Spending $100-500 for some entertainment is actually reasonable and not at all baffling.
If you feel they provide you with $500 in entertainment and you have a spare $500, then it makes sense.
That's like asking "why would you go to a casino when you know casinos make lots of money?"
If you're watching Larry David's shows the business transaction has already taken place. Larry David doesn't stream his shows for free and give you the opportunity to give him donations in exchange and then thank donors during the episode.
I understand the busker metaphor, but the $100/$500 donations we hear about most often are to successful streamers, so it's more like throwing $500 at Axel Rose. That's the bit I find interesting.
Such donations strike me as unusually altruistic for the demographic involved, in a way that we don't see en masse in other public online venues (such as on YouTube, donating to open source, Instagram, bloggers, etc.) I'm quite interested in learning more about the psychology around that because I think other arenas deserve it too.
The donations then become something more like buying Girl Scout cookies, or a painting from a craft fair.
It's not the most efficient use of your dollar for a product, it's patronage of someone in your community.
Or, less flippantly, for some people this is literally their only entertainment.. They watch every day, all the time..
At some point, dollar-per-hour evens out when compared to going to the movies or paying for other forms of entertainment.
My theory is that its anthropological, people want to belong to the group. The isolation of being behind a computer ironically amplifies the phenomenon, people become more desparate to connect and the only outlet they have is to donate.
Finally there is the rabid success of the female streamers, many of whom wear low cut shirts and exhibit flirty behavior. While there are many talented female gamers who deserve their place in the twitch spotlight, there can be no denying that a portion of the demographic caters specifically to specific male inclinations...
It actually seems better for the performers than stripping in a club - they don't have to risk contact with patrons, more control of working conditions and I assume they get to keep a lot more of their income.
I suppose it's just not for me. I watch video game reviews to see if something is worth buying, but not more than a few minutes of gameplay. Plus the other things that streaming groups/houses do aren't appealing to me.
Have I gotten old? Is this why grey haired CEOs often miss great business opportunities? They just don't "get it?"
Youre making it sound not only as if only kids watch this, but also like playing any sport at all is so much different - and then compare it to Reality TV instead of live sports. Actual WTF? Some of the streamers (variety streamers) do play for just entertainment value, but most stick to just one game. A lot of it is also being able to live chat with other people watching and interact with the person streaming.
> This isn't like F1 racing where I'll never be able to afford a racecar, or football where I don't want to exercise.
Why isn't it like that? That's exactly what it is. Do you have any idea how long professional esports players competing in tournaments have to work, to stay at the top level? And do you think they can play at the same level on the average person's hardware? Have a look at Starcraft 2, Counter Strike Source, or Osu!. These are games where top players make 100+ strategic actions per minute, need to have lightning reaction speeds and accuracy, and make bursts of 10 actions per second for full minutes, respectively.
How can it be such a shock to non-gamers that people watch other people play a game, rather than play it themselves? Just imagine it - people watching a game! /s
It's exactly the same as every professional sport that has ever existed.
I find most of it boring. I only scroll through those videos on youtube to see how the actual game looks like since Demos have been dead for a long time now (or you have to pay for them now). Additionally the annoying stuff happening around the video on twitch is repulsive. Especially the chat reminds me of those webchats on crappy 90s-style pages.
On the other hand I do watch a tournament or some league play since german free tv started airing it.
Now I've got my next business idea.
Attach wireless streaming cameras to all the players in a sportsball game. Each player has a HUD, and can see chat messages in real time.
Heck, for something like American Football, you could even have them vote on what play the opposing team is likely to do next. The player can take that under advisement, and maybe compliment a viewer when correct. To make more money, they viewers could bid on the predictions, which might help increase their accuracy. The player and the sport get a percentage of the bids, and the rest forms a prize pool for the most accurate bidders.
Video gamers, while no doubt skilled and dedicated to their craft, look like regular guys off the street. There's no wonderment. It's why nobody has the world chess champion as a poster on their door (or desktop background, whatever today's equivalent). Poker is popular on TV too, but ask a kid who they want to be when they grow up, Messi or Phil Ivy and I'm pretty sure I know the answer.
This stuff is popular and more power to those who succeed, but I think it's unfair to just brush off people's bewilderment at the success of esports by trying to compare some 19 year old "esports athlete" to a proper athlete.
>“That’s like saying to a chef, ‘Why are you watching the Food Network? Shouldn’t you be in the kitchen, cooking?’
> Or to an athlete, ‘Why are you watching ESPN? Shouldn’t you be out shooting hoops?’
> No. People enjoy watching others who are good at what they do.”
I don't understand it much myself (and I watch streams semi-regularly) but it's not like this doesn't have precedent. People watch professional basketball when they could just go outside and start a pickup game. Sometimes you just want to experience the game/sport/etc without having to actually play it.
Plus with Twitch streams you can watch how skilled players play and what strategies they use. Personally, I watch a lot of streams for that reason. Plus, often times high-level play is almost a different game from casual level;watching streams (or recordings of streams) is one of the few ways casual players can see that.
That's a big part of it as well. Imagine if you could hang out on the side of the court and ask Stephen Curry questions while he practices. Ask him about the game last night, ask him why he took the shot that he did, why he drove instead of passing, what his practice regime is. You can play basketball with your friends if you want, or you can pick the brain of somebody who's incredible at it and get their advice, get their thoughts on the game.
Also, people doing this aren't all kids. Dota and Starcraft are > 10-year-old games, and many people watching them are in their 30s.
 Dota 2 https://www.reddit.com/r/DotA2/comments/2nfzrx/how_to_overco...
 Starcraft 2 http://wiki.teamliquid.net/starcraft2/Dealing_with_anxiety
You can afford a football, but recognize that (for some) it's more fun to watch highly skilled professionals play; yet, you seem unable to understand how others might feel the same way about gaming.
I'm going to say that's probably "getting old" -- the inability to see how something is like something you already know, because it's new and strange to you.
The thing about a lot of these streamers is that they are both entertaining and talented gamers. In the Dota 2 community, watching the top players stream is actually a good way to keep up-to-date on the latest strategies and techniques, which is important is a game that's as complex as Dota. A lot of the community also converges in streams, which can be a good way to stay in touch with the latest gossip, memes, etc.
Many sports fans do actually participate in their sport. Instead of football, consider basketball, which just about anyone with access to a gymnasium or outdoor court can play. Plenty of people play basketball casually and still watch the professionals. Whether it's one of those "multi-game" streamers who plays everything, or a specialist in one game like Overwatch or CS:GO or Starcraft or Dota, if they're a good player it's often more fun to watch them than to get your own butt kicked online.
Now imagine that the announcer is also one of the players, who is gleefully trash-talking the other team, sharing gossip, and telling entertaining stories, and you are also in a chat room where you can interact with everyone else watching the game, and the player will actually read your chats and respond to your questions. That's the appeal of streaming. It's fun.
I think Dota is a great game and I could play it, but I'm not that good, especially when I'm not playing regularly. So I have the choice of playing it and watch myself air-ball abilities or watch the equivalent of Steph Curry score from the half-line and beyond.
Think about it, its a competitive game where you're matched with players of equal skill, so you'll win exactly half your games. The ones you lose can be very frustrating, sometimes taking the pleasure away from playing the game. But if its someone else who's winning/losing, I don't mind.
Not to mention I wouldn't play if I was out of it in any way (sick, drunk, tired etc)
This is an interesting comment. I watch couple of streamers regularly, but not in real-time. I just watch their content on YouTube.
Some of them actually put good effort into creating interesting in-game situations and running entertaining commentary. It's less of a reality show and more of a comedy/talk show. Maybe.
Some of them are very good at the game, and watching the stream is an opportunity to learn something new. If the game is competitive, it sort of makes sense.
But overall, I agree that streaming and YouTube are becoming the new TV. Maybe the motivations I outline above are somewhat pathological in the sense that they don't justify the time spent on such simplistic entertainment.
A lot of videos are about competitive online games, and come to think of it the direct experience in those games isn't always great. For example, when you're watching a game on YouTube it's effectively per-selected. This way you can "skip" the games that are boring or have something broken or have annoying/rude players. You can cancel/pause at any time without loosing rank or annoying other people. In some ways it's a sad state of affairs. Games should be entertaining in their own right.
That being said, I don't "get it" insofar as it's not something I particularly want to do or partake of. But, plenty of my peers do and I can see that there is an appeal to them the way that watching professional sports is appealing to me. To each their own, right? If you rewind back enough, you'd laugh at the thought of 'professional' sports, as the concept of professionalism of games that children play was far-fetched.
Most, if not all, of the live gameplay videos nowadays mostly tend to be about screaming and raging at the screen with lesser amount of stories. And for some reason people like that a lot.
This along with the slew of Reaction videos where people watch other people watching and reacting to stuff makes me wonder - why are people really interested in someone doing some stuff? Are they so alone that they need some validation or is it more to do with increasing voyeurism nowadays?
I remember in the mid-to-late 90's when the internet was getting big I thought that would be the end of those low-effort TV shows because soon everybody could access niche content that would interest them more. Love the german baseball league? You can read, watch and discuss about it. Enjoy the Edo period of japanese history? Thousands of web pages are waiting for you. Anywhere. Any time. Who would even bother watching The Bachelor instead of pursuing their interests?
Of course in retrospect I was naive. Sometimes we just want to be entertained. Sometimes we want to watch The Bachelor. And apparently for some people "The Bachelor" is a twenty-something yelling in a microphone overlayed on top of some videogame footage.
He does a really good job of balancing being funny and interesting (as a person), and giving really good insights into his thought process in playing Hearthstone, building decks, and competing.
But I also like Funhaus, which is effectively a podcast where a group of people plays a game in the background. (They also have an actual podcast which is literally that.)
These are called "parasocial interactions" and this is not a new thing at all. It may even be healthy and linked to empathy. There is ongoing research on this subject.
I would hope that the pro streamers are planning to use the industry connections they develop for a move into some other part of the video gaming industry around that time.
Unfortunately, it's not all rainbows and roses, as I think there are some detrimental forces at play which are trying to rip out the grassroots origins of esports and commercialize it to the n-th degree (see Blizzard's Overwatch League). This was attempted before in '07 (see the Championship Gaming Series) and it failed miserably, so we'll see how it does this time around.
Not sure who invested like $20M per team but that seems like quite the gamble.
By far the weirdest part of OWL for me has been Blizzard's insistence on having teams represent cities -- up to the point of renaming existing teams to fit their naming scheme. (For instance, the "Dallas Fuel" team was created out of the existing EnVyUs lineup.) This is incredibly unusual for esports; the typical arrangement is for teams to either choose their own names, or to play under the name of an existing cross-game esports organization (such as Team Liquid, Evil Geniuses, or Fnatic).
Bingo. Which is why so many competitive gamers are simply not interested in it. The way esports has generally grown is "bottom-up" -- local competitions spring up first and then larger, more well-funded tournaments take place. Blizzard is going for the "top-down" approach. We'll see what happens.
Back in 1999 and the early 2000s you could make over $100,000 if you won a single Quake 3 tournament.
Live streaming (with professional commentators) was available back then, but there were no platforms for it so it never caught onto the masses. You had to really be in the know to watch them.
But I do remember people being rabid fans and highly engaged back then. Just as much as now, just at a smaller scale.
I made a little bit of money playing competitive Quake 3 and helped develop and run the most popular gaming ladder for a certain mod of that game. Good times.
I remember when my brother bought an NES, I wasn't good enough to really play any of the games, but I used to love watching him play because he got so much farther into the games for me and it was a way to spend time with him. I guess that impulse hasn't really gone away.
Looks like only a few of them are getting rich, and it isn't without its costs. Working seven days a week as a professional gamer is pretty brutal.
> Working seven days a week as a professional gamer is pretty brutal
Yep. You can see the burnout on people after a while.
I'm gonna throw some shade towards gameplay streamers. Streamers who do focused content and actually produce shows as you would in a TV/Radio studio have a real job which I've actually done, so this doesn't include them.
Playing a game and running a stream, technically, is not hard. Engaging with viewers is not hard. There's a bunch of solutions out of the box that allow you to manage subscription announcements, overlays, and other stuff, so that isn't too hard either. Spending time in a chair isn't hard. 4-5 hours of working out per week and healthy diet choices would help that, but isn't a panacea because research shows sitting for long periods is bad anyway. I wouldn't be surprised if there was some kind of viewer management software akin to CRM software that make it easier to relate to a larger amount of people. After all, people have limits on the amount of social connections they are able to manage themselves. So remembering your viewers may not even be hard.
The hard part comes with people being unprepared to essentially become public figures (very much in the Hollywood or political sense) and being unable to deal with harassment, death threats, and insults and the worst part of internet. If you don't have enough viewers to shrug off a controversy, your channel will get small, you'll lose revenue, and likely start stressing out about that as well. Having a fallback career plan is essential.
But if you are mentally tough and don't repeat the mistakes of other streamers and public figures (which is likely conveniently available for you to watch), being a streamer is not difficult. Not like other careers. Making money is a different story -- you can do everything right and still not be popular because the mob is fickle. That's just career luck, which isn't specific to streaming. You shouldn't be a public figure if you aren't prepared mentally for it. Twitch can only ban so many people.
However, I very much support tapping this revenue stream. I truly don't care if a loser drops $500 on a streamer who's showing cleavage as long as she's of legal age -- more power to that streamer. And it's up to parents to police their kids watching cleavage streamers. That's not really Twitch's job.
Just call it for what it is: easily hacking viewership for revenue. The exception being taking care of yourself mentally first.
The actual comparison to football is "esports," where people play games competitively. There, you actually do have to put in large amounts of hours to compete at the highest level, without being guaranteed prize money or competitive wins.
Streaming for Fun:Professional Streamer = Football for Fun:Professional Football Players
Not everyone who makes enough money to stream as their primary source of income is competing in tournaments/esports, sometimes they are just entertaining/informative. Regardless of if they are entertainment or skill based, it takes a lot of time and effort to build up enough of a fan base to make it into a primary source of income.
That's all true, but anything you do for a living gets old after awhile, especially if you're putting in long hours. I like to play video games, but if I had to play to pay the bills it would be a job like any other - minus the breaks, the paid time off, and the benefits.
I think I'm doing it wrong.
It's a mix of reasons, but it's usually ultimately about turning you into a product. I think it's disgusting.
To make the internet bearable, I use the following extensions:
Ad Block Plus
And, the newest in the bunch, Ghostery.
I do have to twiddle some things on and off now and then, but on the whole it works and my online experience is a lot less jarring.
He was probably making alright donation income, but suddenly having your monthly income jump ~$12000 a month from just flipping a switch is pretty nuts.
Like others have mentioned it's a combination of luck to get the initial attention, and skill to maintain that following (either actual video game skill, entertainment skill, or a combination of both).
I feel like there is a lot to discuss about this topic (donations, reliable income, future plans ect...) from twitch streaming that doesn't get touched on. But it boils down to the audience wants to interact with you, and will pay you to interact with them.
I'm curious how reliable this income really is, asking for money to give to a celebrity playing a game vs asking for money to play a game seems like a weird event
Almost speaks more to the accepted definition of "attractive" than the streamer.
Though for people like him streaming isn't what they use to make a living either.