Rounding it up
There’s a lot of money floating around in the video game streaming market but it can be tough to get a good chunk of it.
You can earn money streaming on Twitch but many don’t consider the upfront cost of equipment, taxes and fees.
It takes a lot of showmanship, as well as equipment, to become a profitable streamer.
Read on for some tips on making money on Twitch.
Near the close of last year, the video game streaming market was worth $2.1 billion. Let’s put our hand on the table. You want a chunk of that right? You absolutely do. It’s odd considering just two decades ago, millions of kids and preteens, worldwide, would impatiently watch their friends play the latest game as they waited for their turns. And now, those same people, along with their kids, are paying top dollar to watch other people play popular games.
So how can you get in on the action and, really, how much can you expect to earn streaming on Twitch? Read on to learn more.
Why are people watching people play games?
It’s a question you’ve got to ask yourself. People are watching other people play video games and, in many cases, paying for the pleasure. In fact, the video game streaming industry is on track to be valued at $3.5 billion by 2025. People watch video game streaming on services like Twitch for a lot of different reasons and there are a lot of people doing it.
The first reason is the most obvious: viewers are big fans of the video games they’re watching. Streamers tend to be very good at the video games they play, otherwise why would you watch them? Whether they’re speedrunners or achievement seekers, it can be a lot of fun watching another person do some of the harder things in a game. It’s really like watching anyone who is very good at a sport or skill perform at a high level.
Another reason people watch folks on video game streaming services like Twitch is that they put on a really good show. It’s not just that they’re good at the games; the very profitable streamers are very good at entertaining their audience. Many have an angle or a schtick that they’ll use as they play the game, constantly chatting with the audience as they go. In short, it’s more than just pushing buttons on the controller; it’s akin to actively shooting a television show.
How much do streamers make? And what factors impact their income?
So now to the big question: how much can you earn streaming video games? It depends on a lot of different factors and one of them is sheer luck. The most profitable streamers, according to a recent leak from Twitch, earn more than $5 million per year. The vast majority, however, earn a small amount with most just covering their costs. On average, expert streamers can make between $3,000 to $5,000 each month by playing around 40 hours a week. That specific number doesn’t include ad revenue, which averages about $250 for every 100 subscribers. This is before advertisers and other sponsorships are taken into account. If you include those, streamers can earn many more thousands of dollars a month.
While this sounds enticing, there are a few things to consider if you’re interested in exploring earning thousands or even millions with streaming.
You’re going to need some serious computing power to effectively play and stream video games. In order to produce the best graphics for the most demanding games, as well as pump out great video content, you’ll need a fairly high-powered computer. Extremely high-end gaming PCs can easily run between $3,000 and $4,000. You can get by with lower-end models, but if you’re looking to make this a job, higher-quality equipment is better.
You’ll also need all the peripherals to go with it. This includes input devices like keyboards and mice, a webcam and microphone, and assorted cables. A good, studio-quality microphone with a stand can easily cost several hundred dollars. Some of these expenses can be covered by sponsors. For example, one of the most profitable streamers, TimTheTatman, is sponsored by HyperX, which makes high-end headphones. Unfortunately, there’s the “chicken and the egg” problem here. You have to first be popular with your audience in order to attract sponsors.
Equipment is a huge expense that you should account for if you want to be a top streamer.
Unless you’re incredibly dynamic and interesting, you’ll have to play a game that people actually want to pay to watch. There is a middle ground here; it can be difficult to compete with some of the larger streamers for incredibly popular games. Find a game that you enjoy playing and is deep enough for you to play for many hours. Ensure you can talk intelligently about the game as you play. The more passionate you are about the game, the better off you are.
We touched on it a bit above but you will not be able to make money streaming without putting on a show as well. The best streamers show off the game they’re playing but they also make a great spectacle of it.
Many streamers report that they end up working extremely long hours for comparatively little pay. Playing video games as a job may sound awesome but remember the keyword here – job. Whenever you’re forced to do something in order to make a living, it can get difficult to find the motivation required to do the job.
Don’t flip on your camera and the latest video game and expect to have an enraptured audience. You’ll have to build a following as you go, using the tools that the platform has available as well as social media. It’s important to treat your streaming like any other business. This includes marketing, but also expense reporting, budgeting, and scheduling. Building any business takes a lot of effort, even one that includes video games.
In the eyes of the Canadian government, you as a streamer are a business so you’ll need to declare yourself as such. Moreover, this isn’t like any normal job; Amazon, Twitch’s parent company, isn’t withholding taxes to cover your bill. This means you’ll have to do this yourself, lowering your take-home pay considerably.
Just like any sole proprietorship or small business, you can write off a lot of expenses to lower your taxable income, including your computer, equipment, internet, and even the space you use in your home. Remember, though, that you’ll have to file additional tax paperwork and dot your I’s and cross your T’s.
Ways to offset all of this?
Keeping in mind all of the above, you might be asking if there are ways you can offset some of these costs, like taxes and equipment. We can’t help you with taxes, unfortunately. However, we can help you get a little bit in return for your investment. The KOHO Gamer card offers 5% cash back at some of the most popular video game retailers. Whether it’s video games or computing equipment, the Gamer card can help you get a leg up. Does all that gaming make you hungry? The card also offers 2% back on dining and food. We’ve got you covered.
There’s a lot to consider.
In short, there’s an awful lot to consider when you’re looking to earn some serious cash streaming on Twitch. Equipment, taxes and fees, and the time required to build up an audience mean making Twitch your full-time gig can be tough. You can earn money on Twitch if you’re willing to pay the price and put in the work.
Dan is a runner and writer living in the Washington, D.C. area, where he currently works for a financial services trade association as the Communications Director.