Video games have been an extremely popular form of entertainment for almost 50 years now, but the past 15 years or so has seen the rise of a new branch of the industry; online gaming.
Players with an internet connection can log on and play with friends or other people from anywhere in the world, with battle royale games like Fortnite and Call of Duty: Warzone recently rising to prominence.
What is online streaming?
Advancements in technology have also led to the spread of online streaming, which is when a player records themselves playing a game on a live stream for people to watch. This is usually hosted on platforms like Twitch, YouTube and even Facebook.
The streamer uses software to record what is happening on their screen, and they’ll often have a microphone and even a separate camera to record themselves while playing.
The top streamers command audiences reaching the millions, and this leads to revenue streams from things like sponsorships and endorsements. Some are so successful that they’re able to use streaming as their primary source of income.
What games are typically streamed?
While the popularity of Fortnite has waned somewhat with certain audiences, Call of Duty remains a dependable franchise for streamers. Likewise, titles like Minecraft, Apex Legends and Battlefront are also popular with streaming audiences.
Some streamers talk through what they’re doing in the game so that those watching can take note and try to adopt similar strategies. Titles like Warzone, where players are up against huge numbers of other players, require such skill and forethought in order to win.
This can also work for single-player games, as viewers can tune into a stream to see how to navigate difficult parts of the story or the best ways to complete objectives.
A genre of game that is surprisingly widely streamed is casino and card games. This gaming niche has grown in popularity in recent years with online versions being more convenient for players. There are now many different online casinos on the market with players having greater accessibility to online casino games than ever before.
The boom in the online casino industry has encouraged many top casino players to stream themselves playing games such as poker and blackjack online, giving viewers an insight into their tactics and how they play. In fact, this is one the reasons game streaming has become so popular. Those streaming themselves, certainly the most successful ones, are usually very good at the games they are playing, and viewers tune in to learn how to improve their own technique and tactics.
The social element to streaming
There is also a social factor involved when it comes to watching people play games online. Platforms like Twitch and YouTube have comment sections where viewers can interact with each other and react to what’s happening on the live stream.
This creates a sense of community among like-minded people who share a passion. From here, some even take their conversations away from the comment section and get to know each other better, usually then playing games with one another.
Watching others play games is also enjoyable and can be an effective way to unwind. It takes out some of the potential stresses of playing an online game yourself and is a more passive pastime, though you can still experience the excitement of the game itself.
Successful streamers are also often charismatic personalities and add to this enjoyment with humour and enthusiasm.
Plus, if someone is interested in a game but perhaps doesn’t want to or can’t buy it for themselves, they can watch a streamer complete the story, meaning they’re not missing out.
Alternatively, if it’s a new title that’s just been released, they might choose to watch a streamer play part of the game to get a better idea of whether or not they’d want to purchase it themselves.
The boom of eSports
Then, of course, there is the rise of eSports. This is where the world’s top players compete against each other, either individually or in teams, in tournaments and competitions, usually for cash prizes.
These competitions are streamed live online, with millions of people tuning in to the biggest ones like Major League Gaming and the Evolution Championship Series.
So, not only are there all the reasons outlined above as to why so many people watch these gamers, but there’s also the addition of the competitive edge to these tournaments. Viewers will often have favourite gamers or teams that they follow and want to win, so watching eSports is no different to following sports like football and basketball.
In fact, the eSports model has been so successful that some of the cash prizes are millions of dollars, and other industries are now looking at how they can introduce a similar format.
Online casinos and poker tournaments, for example, would be ideally suited to such a format, where the world’s best players face off online, with games streamed to fans across the globe.
After all, there are plenty of people who would be fascinated to see elite card players ply their trade and pick up tips from them, plus these games can also produce high drama and tension, making them exciting to watch.
While, on the surface, watching other people play games might seem like a strange way to spend your free time, it is actually an enjoyable and engaging experience.
Whether it’s just to relax and embrace the action or to monitor how the best players go about things so you can improve when you play, there are countless reasons so many people tune into live streams and watch online gamers.
With the continual rise of eSports and the spread of more streamers online, this trend only seems to be going one way.