Video game live streaming

From HandWiki

Video game live streaming is an activity where people record themselves playing games to a live audience online. The practice became popular in the mid-2010s on sites such as Twitch and later, YouTube, Facebook and other services. By 2014, Twitch streams had more traffic than HBO's online service. Professional streamers often combine high-level play and entertaining commentary, and earn income from sponsors, subscriptions, and donations.


The practice of livestreaming video games became popular in the mid-2010s on sites such as Twitch.[1] By 2014, Twitch streams had more traffic than HBO's online service and eventually hastened the closure of, which Twitch had originally spun out of.[2] In 2015, YouTube launched YouTube Gaming—a video gaming-oriented sub-site and app that is intended to compete with Twitch.[3] Other video-game oriented streaming websites include Mixer, which is owned by Microsoft,, which was formed after the merging of Azubu and, and the South Korea-based afreecaTV.

Streamers and viewers register for free accounts with a service which lets them interact with each other by name and subscribe to, or "follow", specific streamers. Home video game consoles, such as the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, contain built-in streaming and optional camera integration. Home computers use software such as Open Broadcaster Software or XSplit to upload a livestream to Twitch's servers.[2]

With advancements in the technology, new gaming laptops are coming ready with online streaming for games. Manufacturers are using new graphics cards and better quality connectivity for online gaming experience.[4]

Building an audience, CNET advises, is more difficult than setting up the software. Among other advice, game streamers recommend selecting a popular game, which is more likely to interest viewers than a rare title without a following. Popular titles in the mid-2010s include League of Legends, Dota 2, first-person shooters such as Counter Strike: Global Offensive, and card games such as Hearthstone. Viewers are more interested in players who play and entertain well, offering jokes, pop culture, and current event commentary instead of repetitive gameplay. Streamers also recommend keeping a schedule so viewers know when to watch, self-promotion on social media, and giveaway contests to build a follower count.[2]


Professional streamers often combine gameplay with highly knowledgeable or dextrous play and entertaining commentary. They can generate sufficient revenue from viewer subscriptions and donations, as well as platform advertisements and sponsorships from eSports organizations.[5] An October 2017 report from SuperData Research estimated that more people subscribed to video game streams and Let's Play videos on YouTube and Twitch than for all of HBO, Netflix, ESPN, and Hulu, combined.[6]


There are many reasons why someone would want to record themselves playing games for a live audience. Professional streamers often indicate that they enjoy their job because they are their own boss and the amount of work they put in directly effects growth on their platform. So when a streamer is competent they flourish and there is a strong sense of personal accomplishment.[7] Another benefit is that it brings attention to video games of the streamers choosing so that games with small communities gain visibility.[8] For example, in 2013 several members of the Super Smash Bros Melee community live streamed in order to raise money to to become the 8th game featured at the prestigious tournament Evolution Championship Series and overturn a decision by Nintendo to ban the game from the event.[9]


Streamers run the risk of being victims of stalking, as is common with other public figures. For example, a teenage viewer showed up uninvited to a streamer's house and requested to live with him after having saved up for a one-way transcontinental flight.[10] Another risk to streamers is swatting, where someone makes a false report to police of serious criminal activity taking place at the streamer's residence, resulting in a raid by police, which is often captured live by the streaming service.[11] Such activity can create serious risk to the streamer, and has even resulted in deaths. In the 2017 Wichita swatting, police officers killed a man named Andrew Finch at his Kansas home. Finch was the unintended victim of the swatting after two Call of Duty players on the same team got into a heated argument about a US$1.50 bet. LAPD arrested 25-year-old serial-swatter Tyler Raj Barriss, known online as "SWAuTistic" and "GoredTutor36", in connection with the incident, who was later sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for the offense.[12][13][14][15]

Stream sniping is a common tactic to gain an advantage in a video game by watching the live stream of an enemy player.[16] Several video game developers have taken measures against stream sniping, and video games such as Rust and Fortnite now hide the names of popular streamers.[17][18] In November 2018, live streamer Ninja controversially threatened to report a player who he thought had killed him in Fortnite by stream sniping.[19] While stream sniping happens somewhat rarely for most streamers due to the restrictions set by the games, as well as tactics set up by the streamers themselves like covering up the ingame map or setting a delay for the stream, there are cases where stream sniping plays a part in a streamer's entertainment and therefore the streamer does not set any restrictions and instead allows it. This is the case for the popular Twitch streamer Forsen.[20]


There are many commons paths streamers take that lead to the start of their career. One popular way is through prior involvement with esports. People who take this route either already have a large following or gain a large following based off of their in-depth knowledge of the game or through their personality. Live streams make this possible because it allows people to display their already honed skills in a more personal format.[7] Another entry into streaming is other social media platforms such as YouTube because live streaming makes it easier to interact with viewers and fans. Other less common methods of entry include those who are involved in the creation of video games and those who write articles or blogs about video games.[7]

List of video game live streaming websites

The following is a list of sites that primarily focuses on video game live streaming, including broadcasts of esports competitions, in addition to other types of content.

Website Domain Launch Owner Note
Twitch June 6, 2011 Amazon
YouTube Google
Mixer January 5, 2016 Microsoft Mixer will shut down on July 22, 2020[21]
Facebook Facebook
DLive September 2018
Trovo Live March, 2020 Tencent[22]
Huya Live[23] November 24, 2014 Tencent (50.1%), JOYY (43%)[24]
Nimo TV May 3, 2018 Huya Live 's global site
DouYu[23] 2014 Tencent (37%%)[25]
Bilibili[26] Tencent (Minority ownership)[27]
Kuaishou Tencent (Minority ownership)[27]
YY[23] 2012 JOYY[24]
Caffeine January 31, 2018
Smashcast May, 2017
Azubu 2012 Shut down and was succeeded by Smashcast
Hitbox October 2013 Acquired by Azubu and then succeeded by Smashcast
afreecaTV May 11, 2005

Legal issues

Live streaming of video games has many of the same legal issues that Let's Play videos may have. First and foremost, such videos can be considered a copyright violation, though is argued to be protected by fair use defenses.

Nintendo has generally taken a strong stance compared to other publishers for allowing their games to be streamed or recorded. Initially, they have used YouTube's Content ID system to register their games such that they can generate ad revenue from streaming videos and Let's Play videos.[28] By about 2014, Nintendo crafted its Nintendo Creators Program, which would allow players providing live streams and Let's Plays of Nintendo games that sign onto the program to receive some monetization of these videos through YouTube.[29][30] However, in September 2017, Nintendo changed the program specifically preventing affiliates from using streaming video of Nintendo games, monetized or not, though non-affiliated accounts, and Let's Plays with commentary, remain unaffected.[31] However, on November 28, 2018, Nintendo announced that the program was shutting down.[32][33]

The playing of copyrighted music without proper permission may cause archived streams to be removed or muted, or streamers to be suspended, due to complaints under laws such as the U.S. Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act, or automated content matching. More than 10 popular Twitch streamers, including Félix "xQc" Lengyel and Zachary "Sneaky" Scuderi, were banned for 24 hours for allegedly playing a song by Juice WRLD in June 2018. Some of the bans were lifted, with the artist's record label Interscope claiming that the ban was accidental.[34][35]

See also


  1. Slotnik, Daniel E. (2017-03-15). "Gamer’s Death Pushes Risks of Live Streaming Into View". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Graziano, Dan (2014-09-04). "The complete guide to streaming games on Twitch". CNET. Retrieved 2017-08-11. 
  3. Dredge, Stuart (August 26, 2015). "Google launches YouTube Gaming to challenge Amazon-owned Twitch". The Guardian. Retrieved September 5, 2015. 
  4. "Best Gaming Laptops 2019 Reviews by What Laptops" (in en-US). 2018-11-30. 
  5. Leslie, Callum (2014-12-31). "Hearthstone players won more than $1 million in the game's first year". The Daily Dot. Archived from the original on 9 May 2016. 
  6. Bailey, Dustin (October 19, 2017). "Gaming videos are bigger than HBO, Netflix, and Hulu combined". PCGamesN. Retrieved October 19, 2017. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Johnson, Mark R.; Woodcock, Jamie (2019-02-23). "‘It’s like the gold rush’: the lives and careers of professional video game streamers on" (in en). Information, Communication & Society 22 (3): 336–351. doi:10.1080/1369118X.2017.1386229. ISSN 1369-118X. 
  8. Johnson, Mark R; Woodcock, Jamie (July 2019). "The impacts of live streaming and on the video game industry" (in en). Media, Culture & Society 41 (5): 670–688. doi:10.1177/0163443718818363. ISSN 0163-4437. 
  9. "Evo: An oral history of Super Smash Bros. Melee" (in en). 2017-07-12. 
  10. D'Anastasio, Cecilia (2017-05-02). "When Fans Take Their Love For Twitch Streamers Too Far". Kotaku. Retrieved 2017-08-27. 
  12. Manna, Nicole (2017-12-29). "Call of Duty gaming community points to ‘swatting’ in deadly Wichita police shooting" (in en-US). The Wichita Eagle. 
  13. Darrah, Nicole (2017-12-29). "Kansas police investigate whether fatal shooting was result of prank called 'swatting'" (in en-US). Fox News. 
  14. Sommerfeldt, Chris (2017-12-29). "Kansas man shot to death by police was reportedly unintended victim of 'Call of Duty' 'swatting' prank" (in en-US). New York Daily News. Sommerfeldt, Chris (29 December 2017). "Kan. man killed by cops was victim of 'swatting' prank" (in en). 
  15. "Kansas Man Killed In ‘SWATting’ Attack — Krebs on Security" (in en-US). 
  16. Livingston, Christopher (9 August 2017). "Streamers vs. stream-snipers: why cheaters will always prosper on Twitch". Retrieved 21 December 2018. 
  17. Grayson, Nathan (21 September 2015). "Rust's Anti-Stream Sniping Mode Exists Because of Cheaters". Retrieved 21 December 2018. 
  18. Grayson, Nathan (1 June 2018). "Fortnite Players Blame Stream Snipers For Update That Hides Streamers' Names". Retrieved 21 December 2018. 
  19. Asarch, Steven (11 November 2018). "Streamer Ninja is in hot water for calling player IcyFive a stream sniper" (in en). Retrieved 21 December 2018. 
  20. Grayson, Nathan. "Battlegrounds Streamer's Audience Loves His Loud, Obnoxious Stream Snipers" (in en-US). 
  21. Warren, Tom (2020-06-22). "Microsoft is shutting down Mixer and partnering with Facebook Gaming" (in en). 
  22. Holt, Kris. "With Mixer Dead In The Water, Twitch’s Next Big Threat Could Be Tencent" (in en). 
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 Agar, Ian (2019-11-19). "3 Chinese Live-Streaming Stocks to Watch" (in en). 
  24. 24.0 24.1 Fool, Contributor Leo Sun The Motley. "Tencent Gains Control of Huya: What Does This Mean for JOYY?" (in en). 
  25. Haak, Alex (2 April 2020). "Tencent's Option To Become Huya's Controlling Shareholder". 
  26. jen. "China Games Streaming Tracker" (in en-US). 
  27. 27.0 27.1 "Tencent bolsters lead in China’s game live-streaming market after Huya deal" (in en). 2020-04-08. 
  28. Gera, Emily (2013-05-16). "Nintendo claims ad revenue on user-generated YouTube videos". Polygon. Retrieved 2013-05-16. 
  29. Tolito, Stephan (2013-06-24). "Nintendo's Turn For a 180? 'Let's Play' Drama Might Have Happy Ending". Kotaku. Retrieved 2014-04-25. 
  30. Williams, Katie (2014-05-27). "Nintendo Announces Affiliate Program for YouTube Let's Play Creators". IGN. Retrieved 2014-05-27. 
  31. Alexander, Julia (September 29, 2017). "Nintendo restricts livestreaming games for YouTubers in Nintendo’s partners program". Polygon. Retrieved September 29, 2017. 
  32. Bankhurst, Adam (November 28, 2018). "Nintendo to End Its Creators Program in December". IGN. Retrieved November 30, 2018. 
  33. Marshall, Cass (November 28, 2018). "The Nintendo Creators Program draws to a close this December". Polygon. Retrieved November 30, 2018. 
  34. Grayson, Nathan (June 22, 2018). "Popular Twitch Streamers Temporarily Banned For Playing Copyrighted Music". Kotaku. Retrieved June 29, 2018. 
  35. Goslin, Austen (June 22, 2018). "Popular Twitch streamers temporarily banned thanks to DMCA takedowns". Polygon. Retrieved June 29, 2018. 

Further reading