48% of gamers say they spend more time watching gaming videos on YouTube than playing games.

TLDR;

Gamers spend just as much watching other gamers play as they do actually playing video games themselves.

Twitch and YouTube Gaming are the two most popular live-streaming platforms.

Professional streamers can earn millions of dollars a year.

Gamers are no longer people who only play video games, and they spend just as much time, if not more, watching other gamers play on websites like Twitch and YouTube.

To many this may come as a surprise, but to gamers it has been a natural evolution, and speaks not only to the underlying reasons why people love video games, but how they are managing to turn their passion into a legitimate career.

Gaming Hits the Mainstream

On March 14th top recording artist, Drake, played Fortnite with one of the gaming world’s top live-streamers, “Ninja”, to a record 600,000 concurrent viewers. Pittsburgh Steeler’s receiver JuJu-Smith Schuster and rapper Travis Scott also made guest appearances, as Ninja reportedly gained more than 90,000 subscribers, worth roughly $250,000 a month in revenue.

Ninja, who’s real name is Tyler Blevins, is one of the best Fortnite players in the world and regularly plays for 12 hours a day while broadcasting live on Twitch, while other gamers watch his every move. Ninja is one of 2.2 million people who broadcast live on the Twitch platform each month, making it the largest website for video game streaming 1 1. Streamlabs Livestreaming Q4 Report: Tipping reaches $100M for the year; YouTube Dominates in Streamer Growth, increasing by 343% as Twitch rises 197% in 2017 × .

The market is so large that Amazon bought Twitch in 2014 for $970 million dollars 2 2. Amazon's $970 million purchase of Twitch makes so much sense now: It's all about the cloud × . The website reports 15 million daily active users, with 355 billion minutes watched in 2017 3 3. Twitch: 2017 Year in Review × . Live-streaming has rocketed gaming into the number one topic on YouTube, which hosts its own competitor, YouTube Gaming.

Why Gamers Love to Watch Other Gamers Play

To understand live-streaming you must first understand that gaming is as much a sense of community as it is to play video games. It’s where gamers feel like they belong. Where they feel understood. Streaming takes that to another level providing not only a community to belong to (ex: fans of Ninja, fans of Fortnite), but a live social experience as well.

For many broadcasters, the game they are playing is just the activity happening in the background, but while they play they are engaged in commentary and interaction with their fans. It’s the same psychology that has driven the social media era with apps like Instagram and Twitter, and why millions of viewers tuned in each week to watch ‘Keeping Up With The Kardashians’, the reality show that propelled the Kardashian’s to superstardom. Fans want to experience the behind-the-scenes, they want to engage, and be a part of the experience. Live-streaming on Twitch and YouTube does all of that… and more.

Watching other gamers play is fun and passive entertainment. We all have a desire to relax and watching streams is no different than watching the NFL, or tuning into The Handmaid’s Tale on Wednesday nights. We each have our preference and for gamers, gaming is that.

Finally, a gamer might also watch to learn and improve, as many streamers are professional eSports players and very skilled. You can discover new strategies and tactics by watching them play, and that in turn can help you succeed as you strive to become a pro gamer yourself.

Watch: Why I Quit Professional Gaming

Can You Make Money As a Streamer?

With millions of broadcasters worldwide, has streaming become a legitimate career choice? That answer is more complex than you think.

Although streamers like Ninja, Nightblue3, Lirik, summit1g, Imaqtpie, Phantomlord, Markiplier, Jacksepticeye, PewDiePie and others make millions of dollars, the average streamer will make very little as competition for subscribers is fierce, and it takes years of dedication to build up a fanbase. Are you willing to dedicate yourself to this full-time for years for the slight chance you might make it? I won’t be the judge of that, but you have to know the odds.

If you did want to pursue becoming a professional Twitch streamer, there are a variety of ways to earn income, including from subscriptions, Twitch bits, donations, affiliate marketing, partnerships, sponsorships, and personalized merchandise, amongst others. On YouTube you can also earn money from advertising revenue. Although being a professional streamer on Twitch or YouTube is now possible, it should only be pursued with immense caution and focus.

Regardless of the difficulty in becoming a pro streamer, gaming is no longer just about the act of playing video games, it’s about the industry at large. From professional gaming (eSports), to live-streaming, to festivals and cosplays, gaming continues to expand quickly, entering the mainstream, and is on the cusp of taking over the world.

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