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Esports Opens Doors For Gamers To Make Money From Their Play

Ryan Collins

The Michigan State Esports Association is using the streaming platform Twitch to make a path in the revenue side of gaming.

East Lansing, Mich. - Making $550,000 per month would be nice, right? That’s how much Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, a video game streamer and Michigan native, is estimated to make per month on Twitch, according to Forbes. Including advertisements and YouTube, Forbes said Blevins was estimated to make $17 million last year. 

Twitch, the Amazon-owned streaming platform which displays users hosting live video game broadcasts to the public, has become the top streaming site in the esports community. Unlike most companies, video game streaming has succeeded during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Twitch’s revenue stems from advertising and subscription fees. Nationally numbers like the ones in that graph signify major ad-revenue dollars for Twitch and their top streamers. but locally the Michigan State esports Association has used their Twitch stream for other reasons. 

The MSUesports Association has six different clubs that play six different games under their umbrella on Twitch; League of Legends, Overwatch, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Rocket League, Rainbow Six: Siege, Halo. Each game has a casual and competitive team except for Halo as that’s only played casually. 

“You’re just as safe playing League of Legends than doing nothing in your home,” said Michigan State Media and Information Professor Ryan Thompson. “The physical risks aren’t there the way sports are, esports while sports were shutting down is even more of a phenomenon than it already was.” 

Twitch grew 56 percent in viewership from this year’s first quarter one to second quarter according to Stream Elements, a gaming blog. The whole live-streaming industry reported 45 percent gains from just March to April, while most people were under lockdown. 

As Covid-19 guidelines loosened slowly it hasn’t shown a substantial drop on viewership numbers, looking at June’s viewership numbers from Stream Elements.

“The overall profit of the Twitch stream we’ve made a handful of dollars,” said Brendan Przwara, MSU esports Association Director of Operations. “The possibility of bigger profits is definitely there.” 

That possibility is clear especially at MSU, which is home to the seventh-best video game design and development programs globally, according to the Princeton Review.

Twitch has three levels of streamers on their platform. The lowest tier of streamer is just classified as a regular Twitch user, is somebody who streams on the platform very infrequently and doesn’t have any following but mostly uses it to watch others play, these users aren’t able to monetize their streams. Twitch still runs ads, but the regular user doesn’t get a piece of that pie. 

The second tier for streamers on Twitch is being considered an affiliate, which is given the ability to monetize on their streams, the Michigan State esports Association’s stream holds this title, but there are objectives to reach that status. There are around 220,000 affiliates on the platform.

“You need 50 followers on Twitter or Instagram, three people watching every time you stream, and to have streamed nine times in the past month,” said Przwara. 

The third tier of streamer on Twitch is a partner, which requires a person to stream for 25 hours, reach 75 average viewers each stream, and stream 12 unique days all in the last 30 days. There are around 27,000 partners on Twitch out of the 2.2 million broadcasters on the website.

Credit Twitch

“I had one student who was already a Twitch Partner, walked into class with a leather jacket from Twitch and 8,000 people came to watch this kid do his homework,” said Professor Thompson. “That’s not normal.”

While the Michigan State esports Association isn’t rolling in the dough from streaming dollars like some other streamers around the country and maybe some of their colleagues on campus they've used their platform for the good of the community since COVID-19 hit. 

“One of the first things we did after being quarantined was throw a big charity stream for the Greater Lansing Food Bank,” said Przwara. “We didn’t make any money, all the money we made we sent to them.”       

The Michigan State esports Association did not disclose how much they donated from the charity stream. 

The numbers above show the profitability of Twitch, but like most things, to be successful…it takes work.

“To be a successful influencer you have that personality,” said Professor Thompson. “It’s not that easy.”

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