Top ‘Live-Streamers’ Get $50,000 an Hour to Play New Videogames Online

Not exactly to do with books, but a look into another kind of publishing.

From The Wall Street Journal:

The world’s biggest videogame publishers are paying popular gamers tens of thousands of dollars to play their latest releases live over the internet, hoping to break through to buyers in a crowded industry where dominant games like “Fortnite” cast a large shadow.

Electronic Arts Inc., Activision Blizzard Inc.,  UbisoftEntertainment SA and Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. are among the publishers making hefty payouts for the real-time broadcasts, or live streams. The amounts vary depending on the popularity of the “streamer,” and could go as high as $50,000 an hour for top celebrity gamers, according to talent and marketing agents.

Take-Two plans to pay streamers to play “Borderlands 3” when the comedic shooter game launches Sept. 13. Ubisoft, an early adopter of the live-streaming strategy, plans to use it again for the Oct. 4 release of its special-ops shooter game “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint.”

“Having celebrity streamers play games is an important part of the business,” Strauss Zelnick, Take-Two’s chief executive, said in an interview. “It is relatively new, but it has to be organic. The streamers have to believe in it.”

. . . .

“If you don’t have live-streaming as part of your marketing spend, you’re doing it wrong,” Mr. Benyamine said.

People last year spent 8.9 billion hours watching videogame content on Inc.’svideo-streaming site Twitch, up from 6.3 billion hours in 2017, according to industry tracker Newzoo BV.

Big-budget videogame launches have become major affairs in the $130 billion industry, akin to the opening weekend of a star-studded Hollywood movie. First-week sales are closely watched, and game companies are looking for ways to stand out—especially as players sink ever more of their time and money into a handful of constantly updated games that don’t really ever end.

. . . .

The exploding popularity of live-streaming and professional gamers such as Tyler “Ninja” Blevins gives game companies another marketing lever to pull. Live streams show the pros playing and commenting on games while reacting to text messages posted by viewers in real time. The paid streams are typically labeled as sponsored.

. . . .

Videogame player Karlissa Juri downloaded “Apex Legends” after seeing a streamer play it on Microsoft Corp.’s Mixer, a platform similar to Twitch. She said it doesn’t bother her that some live-streamers are paid to play games, as long as the broadcasts are clearly labeled, something that wasn’t always the case in the past.

“It really sold me watching him,” said the 34-year-old New Yorker, who has since been playing the game daily and spent about $20 for virtual currency for spending on virtual costumes.

Electronic Arts said earlier this month that sales of virtual goods in the game helped the company beat its quarterly profit forecast.

. . . .

Unlike the past, when big publishers reserved the right to edit paid game footage before it aired, a live-streaming audience injects uncertainty and gives publishers less control, Mr. Duchscher said.

Technical glitches could make a poor first impression or a live-streamer could speak off-color—both have happened. There is no guarantee a streamer will be converted into a regular player. And audience interest in watching a game stream can tail off. Last month, people spent 24.7 million hours watching other people play “Apex Legends” on Twitch, down from 122.1 million in February, according to Newzoo.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal

5 thoughts on “Top ‘Live-Streamers’ Get $50,000 an Hour to Play New Videogames Online”

  1. “The amounts vary depending on the popularity of the “streamer,” and could go as high as $50,000 an hour for top celebrity gamers, according to talent and marketing agents.”

    So ‘up to’ rather than most/any actually making that much.

    Like those million dollar book deals that the writer might never see more than the first payment if the publisher wants to play games.

    This also sound like AT&T’s ads for their internet ‘Up to X!’ Too bad 0.001 of X fits in that ‘up to’ range and they won’t even send a tech to check the lines unless you’re getting less than half the speed you’re paying for (me knows because I was one of those you called when there was a problem!) To add insult to injury was them asking if you wanted to upgrade the service they weren’t providing.

    Wake me when the gamers cash the check. 😉

  2. Lost in the breathless “$50,000 an hour hype” is that the performances may be an hour or two at most and might come at most a few times a year. So yes, some people do make a living demonstrating their video game skills online but that hardly makes them particularly rich. The same applies to the pro gaming league where a lot of hype puffs up the value of the top prize but waves off more meaningful questions about the almost-winners.

    It’s all about marketing the product and the product is the gake, not the player. It’s really just another freelancer/gig economy business.

      • Yup, everybody focuses on the “name above the title” but conveniently forget the spear carriers. Bill Veeck, onetime baseball GM, pointed out that mighty as the Yankees were at the time, to sell tickets they needed to play *somebody*.

        Also-rans are as important as the marquee names. And there’s a lot more of them: the health of the business is defined by how it treats the not-so-big names.

  3. Here’s a different look at the pro gaming world:

    Not pretty for the almost winners:

    “Professional players are also getting a piece of that pie. Tyler Blevins, aka Ninja, told CNN in January that he earned nearly $10 million in 2018 playing Fortnite: Battle Royale. Blevins has more than 12.5 million followers on game streaming service Twitch and more than 20 million subscribers on streaming giant YouTube.

    “Faze Clan uses its illegal Gamer Contracts to limit Tenney to deals sourced exclusively by Faze Clan and to prevent Tenney from exploring deals presented by others; deals that are potentially superior to deals procured by Faze Clan; and deals that are not saddled with an eighty percent (80%) finder’s fee,” the complaint says.

    Tenney tried to terminate his contract with Faze Clan in September based on the organization’s numerous breaches of contract, but Faze Clan disputes that the agreement was terminated and contends that Tenney still owes it contractual obligations, the complaint says.”

    It’s not just the top guys that matter.

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