Streaming video games is not a fad anymore. Nowadays, the act of broadcasting yourself playing video games on screen has been able to provide a living for the players. For example, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins made a huge fortune by making more than USD$500,000 (RM2 million) in a month playing the popular battle royale game Fortnite on Twitch.
In 2017, Twitch is a commune for over 15 million gamers watching live streams from 2 million unique broadcasters. Among the 2 million Twitch broadcasters lies a handful of the rising Twitch streamers hail from Malaysia. So, is it possible for Malaysians to venture into Twitch vista? I talked to several local streamers on hitting it big on Twitch market while making money on the side.
The Twitch Partner program was introduced to give financial support for a network of 2 million Twitch broadcasters, personalities, teams and tournaments from all around the world. To be a part of the growing Twitch Partner network, a streamer must follow a set of requirements, which is to have an active audience base and set up regular broadcasts at least 3 times a week. While some streamers are still waiting for their application to be accepted, these local streamers are presented with an unexpected surprise.
Having streamed for almost 8 years, Jackson “Raijinshi” Lee is one of the lucky few talents who had been selected to become a Twitch Partner. His slow and steady streams paid off as he was approached by a Twitch representative who watched his channel grow over the year. Jackson added, “I was very fortunate because a Twitch staff noticed me replying in a streamer support group and decided to surprise me with the (Twitch) partnership that very night!”
Fortune works in a mysterious way for another Malaysian streamer, Ceddy, who goes by the name “GreenDumpling” on Twitch. Compared to Jackson, he’s considered a rookie in video game streaming scene. He began to do gaming live stream on October last year after an encouragement from Anjali Bhimani, whom he adored her work as the voice actress of Symmetra from Overwatch and Nina Patel in comedy TV series Modern Family. But his grand opening in Twitch did not feature him playing video games. Instead, he welcomed Anjali Bhimani to his inaugural live stream.
However, Ceddy got his lucky break when a Twitch staff was tuning in along with over 100 concurrent viewers to watch his second live stream of the Green Dumpling Show with the voice actress of Pharah, Jen Cohn. Unbeknownst to Ceddy's knowledge, the Twitch staff offered him to be a Twitch Partner soon after the live stream ended.
Gaining a Twitch Partnership is a huge milestone for Twitch streamers. In a way, joining the Twitch Partner program allows them to earn revenue from their streams through advertisements and Twitch subscribers. Followers who own a Twitch Prime account can support their favourite streamers by purchasing a tiered subscription (as per the image above) on the streamers channels with different price offers, allowing subscribers to enjoy a lot of exclusive perks coming from the Twitch partners including subscriber-only chat rooms, emojis and badges depending on their subscription tiers.
Jackson revealed that subscriptions are his vital source of monthly income. “The more subscribers you have to your channel, the more revenue you generate from your Twitch,” said Jackson. According to him, Twitch Partners gain subscriptions money every month compared to the 2 and a half month process for Affiliate. From time to time, Jackson also expands his earnings through donations from Streamlabs, event appearances and endorsements.
As for Ceddy, he credited his income through his followers’ subscription and from Twitch cheer bits, which viewers can buy with real money to support his contents, as well as donations. Other than that, he agreed that product sponsorship and brand endorsements are the most likely ways to earn extra income. However, Ceddy didn’t launch his Twitch channel just for the sake of the money but his goal is to grow and be discovered as an entertaining streamer. When asked about his monthly income through streaming, he answered, “At this stage, it is very difficult to gauge because there are good months and bad months. But, on a good month, I could get up to USD$600 (RM2440).
Different from Jackson and Ceddy, Aubrey “Thatbreydude” Yong is not a Twitch Partner but she’s steadily working to gain Twitch Partner status. Nevertheless, she still garners donations from her viewers. She also partners up with esports agencies that provides streaming pods where she incorporates their company’s brand in her live streams. In return, Aubrey estimated that she earns roughly around USD$600 (RM2440) a month.
Despite Jackson’s long history of on-and-off streaming, he began full-time streaming in earnest last year. Known for his bubbly and talkative nature in the game live streams, he loves to stream various RPG, MMO and strategy-based video games including fast-paced FPS action Overwatch. Now, he prefers to play and stream slow-paced video games such as World of Warcraft and Hearthstone with his followers whom he calls as “Famjinshi”. Contrary to popular belief that playing well-known games can lead to more followers, Jackson said “It is NOT THE GAME that makes your stream, it is YOU who makes the stream.”
Ceddy opts to build the community firsthand and plays a wide variety of video games as he doesn’t want his followers to feel bored as opposed to playing popular video games over and over again. To grow his channel, Ceddy also holds three C’s principles, which are Content, Consistency and Community. Finding the right content is a surefire way to stand out amongst the sea of streamers and set the consistent streams accordingly to the schedule. He also believes, “Community is very important as they can make or break your streaming career.”
In an effort to become a good streamer, you don’t have to be a professional gamer or possess a high gaming skill. In fact, Ceddy claimed that he’s not a professional gamer but his true intention is to provide entertainment for his viewers. Not to mention, people’s perception of your persona is also important. As a female streamer, Aubrey suffered a lot of hateful criticisms because of some people labelling her as a booby streamer. In other times, she has to endure the fact that streaming and playing video games as a waste of time from certain people.
To declare yourself as a full-time streamer is harder than it looks as I’ve highlighted for local Facebook and YouTube streamers in my previous article. Having talked to several streamers, all of them agree that video game streaming is a viable career option but bear in mind, it’s a slow burning process. Jackson offered his advice for potential streamers, “Streaming isn't about playing a game and earning big money. Streaming is about knowing how to market yourself and knowing how to work your audience so that they WANT to watch you play a game, or something as mundane as talking about your day."
For those who want to kickstart your streaming career on Twitch, the platform has recently launched the Twitch Creator Camp, a series of broadcasts and articles from Twitch partners and affiliates to teach about subscription and sponsorship strategies and first stream set-up and more for the beginners. The Camp also dives into analysing statistics, networking and building community for seasoned creators.