Why do video game streamers make $50k per hour?

Pro game streamers are so popular that they are often paid $50k an hour to play new games.

May 20, 2019

Video game publishers pay celebrity live streamers as much as $50k per hour to play their newly released games, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Sure, we know people love video games — but how is it possible that pro gamers earn more in 1 hour than families in 7 US states earn in a year?

The perverse logic of an economy of attention

Last year, consumers spent 8.9B hours watching (not playing) video games on Twitch, the Amazon-owned streaming platform.

Since popular streamers can command audiences of as many as 680k simultaneous viewers, they are enormously influential, and game companies treat them accordingly.

Living the stream 

In the $130B video gaming industry, celebrity streamers like Ninja have become crucial to marketing new games. 

When video game company Electronic Arts (EA) launched the game “Apex Legends,” they paid 12 popular streamers — including Ninja — to play on opening day.

The strategy worked: Apex got 1m downloads in its first day and 50m in its first month — even though EA did no advance promotion for the game.

Ninja’s take? Last year, he reported hauled in $10m.

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