Video game streaming has seen rapid growth over the past several years, both in terms of revenue and user experience. The rise of virtual connections, new console releases and the pandemic pushing for more at-home activities, all resulted in gaming becoming a major source of entertainment.
Gamers rely on popular streaming sites to stream with online audiences — which is yet another key factor helping tech giants such as Amazon, Facebook and Google become more powerful. The industry’s revenue was $175 billion in 2020, which was a 20% increase from 2019. The streaming platform Twitch, which is owned by Amazon, is dominating the gaming industry worldwide and has the largest gaming community.
According to Twitch Tracker, there were around 9.5 million active streamers and 2 billion hours of Twitch content watched in February 2021. One of the most unique experiences on the popular platform is the busy comment section next to each video. This feature helps viewers form strong connections and has kept them tuned in with their favorite streamers while they live broadcast their video game sessions.
Twitch is built off influencers who broadcast their long hours of gameplay with audiences that enjoy watching them play video games and express their different personalities. “I have a lot of people who come to me when they are having a bad day, are stressed out, or just need a smile and they are able to just be themselves,” said Twitch streamer, known as Graecie. Before becoming a streamer, she spent her days participating in theater but the pandemic interrupted her routine and left her without a creative outlet.
Once Graecie joined Twitch, she noticed there were not many women that she — or other new female streamers — could look up to who had made it big on the platform. Recent reports have shown a total of 65% of male users on Twitch, while only 35% of users are female. Graecie told Eat News, “I want to be that inspiration for another girl. Someone that can show that you can make it somewhere in content creation without having to rely on anyone else, that it is possible to do it completely on your own.”
Women also experience the most criticism and hate speech on Twitch, causing the company to start working on expanding safety guidelines. Under an updated content moderation policy, Twitch can now suspend users who display harmful behaviors offline. The policy allows investigations to be launched when necessary in order to find evidence of certain users engaging in wrong behaviors offline.
As challenging as it can be for influencers on big social platforms to be prone to criticism and hate comments, Graecie has been determined to grow her Twitch channel with the hopes of fostering a more tight-knit and inclusive community that spreads kindness.
She added, “The thought of being able to make one person smile and feel like they can be themselves is absolutely worth it to me.” Now, she feels shocked and proud of reaching over 55,800 followers in less than a year. “It means the world to me that someone would give me a chance and click on my stream!” Her daily morning streams consist of doing what she loves the most — playing the video game Minecraft while chatting with her viewers as they get to learn more about her.
Minecraft is one of the most popular games on the platform and Graecie’s go-to game — mainly for the freedom it provides her — from building virtual castles, mansions, to islands or underground cities, the possibilities are endless.
Streamers have the ability to make money by broadcasting just about any type of content on their channels, which has made the platform open to more than only gamers. Just Chatting has become the biggest category on the platform currently and crushing other top games like Minecraft, Fortnite, VALORANT and more.
In an effort to challenge the dominance of Twitch in the gaming content market, YouTube Gaming along with Facebook Gaming became Twitch’s strongest competitors. YouTube Gaming—which is owned by Google’s Parent company Alphabet—had over 40 million active gaming channels and over 100 billion hours of gaming content watched last year. Both platforms aim to catch up by offering users lots of flexibility with modern games, mobile broadcasting features, and different forms of content that go beyond gaming.
Live game streaming has turned into a kind of on-demand service, where players can stream video games right from their smartphones without the need for a computer or video game console. Sales for mobile video games in 2020 were around $86 billion and reigned over console sales, which generated an estimated $51 billion in sales in the same year. The success of mobile gaming has resulted from the technological advancements from recent years that created availability of advanced games with real-time engagement features.
Game developers have gotten rid of technical barriers that can make streaming or gaming difficult for people at home. Developers now use a free-to-play business model to incorporate advanced gaming solutions. The rise of different cloud gaming services also play a role in the significant growth of the gaming industry and paid subscriptions.
As an alternative to playing games on a console, cloud gaming works through a remote server and enables users to play via their TVs, laptops, tablets, desktops and phones. Most importantly, as long as users have access to a fast internet connection, they can enjoy cloud gaming without the traditional requirement of lengthy downloads, installs or updates.
Community driven user-engagement is expected to accelerate in years to come and gaming market forecasters are expecting the gaming market to continue to grow and reach $217.9 billion in revenue by 2023.
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