There was a time when playing games all day alone in your room may have seen you ridiculed. Now, it can earn you millions.
Since platforms like Twitch and YouTube opened up online broadcasting to the masses in 2011, video game live streams have exploded in popularity. In 2023, millions tune in daily to watch competitive esports experiences or see their favorite streamers play games like Fortnite, Valorant, Grand Theft Auto V, and more.
August 2023 saw YouTube Gaming rack up over 496 million hours of live-streaming viewership. This year, Twitch has averaged more than seven million active streamers a month. The streaming professionals currently attending this year’s live-streaming convention TwitchCon in Las Vegas — and those looking to ignite a career — depend on technology more than ever.
Established streamers like Leslie Ann Fu — known better online as fuslie — had to work their way into the spotlight. For Fu, what began as a hobby streaming to less than a hundred fans in 2015 has burgeoned into a full-time career in which she regularly draws tens of thousands of viewers a day.
In recent years, she has partnered with gaming organization 100 Thieves, been invited to present at award shows, promoted charities, and even appeared in a music video. It’s a journey all born from a college obsession with the video game League of Legends and one friend’s encouragement to switch on a camera while playing.
“I was just baffled,” Fu recalls of that time “Why would you ever watch someone play a game when you could just play it?” But her roommate spurred her on. He said, ‘You should be a streamer — you’ve got the personality for it.’”
Gaming prowess and star-power on its own, however, isn’t enough to guarantee viewership. Modern live-streaming audiences expect a certain level of quality in what they watch. Without the right gear and the knowledge to use it, no one is likely to tune in for long.
Creating a creator
Fu started her streaming journey on little more than her college laptop, resting a phone on her knee to read comments in her chat. But things are no longer so simple.
For most beginners, live streaming can feel a bit like running a one-person studio. You’re expected to manage everything yourself: transitions and camera angles, lighting arrangements and audio balance.
“I started with just a capture card and a cheap mic,” horror variety streamer Guy Woodward, known as NightmareModeGo, says. “Now it’s the latest capture card, two cameras, a professional mic, adjustable arms for the mic and second camera, two lights, and a Stream Deck… it's a lot of work to keep it all running.”
To make that load lighter — and more affordable — a new market has arisen: peripherals for homegrown content creators that help them look and sound like pros. At TwitchCon, HyperX is showcasing a suite of new products designed specifically for up-and-coming content creators.
“One in four of the younger generation want to be influencers,” says Sean Peralta, director of product management at HyperX. “That’s their career path. We want to simplify the experience and make it super easy and intuitive for anyone to join. [In streaming] there’s a lot to learn. You’re creating your own overlays, your brand. And you really have to leave a really good first impression. Otherwise it's tough to stand out.”