The camera is focusing on two bare feet like a Twitch streamer passing by JrocTheGodbreaks boss after boss Cuphead only toes. After several failed attempts to defeat the Devilish Final Boss (in addition to several rest breaks), J-Roc collects credits for Cuphead when members of his community type “gg” in chat.
“Full-time work or streaming, my own well-being comes first,” Jay-Rock says. Breaks are important to him. Despite working hard to develop an online community and receiving recognition from an Amazon-owned platform, both Twitch AmbassadorJ-Roc is one of thousands of dedicated day job streamers.
A report by WIRED’s Will Bedingfield shows how streamers with small audiences are struggling to grow. Even those with decent followings struggle to make ends meet on the platform. “If your immediate goal is to make a living from creativity, then you are probably setting yourself up for disappointment. Be more realistic,” says Mike Minton, Vice President of Twitch Monetization.
“I’m not going to sit here and say, ‘Yes, it’s easy to become a streamer and do it full-time.’ Because the data doesn’t support it,” says Minton. This is not a unique Twitch issue. Just a small chip writers working full-time on social media are earning a living wage in the industry.
At TwitchCon in San Diego, the platform’s most profitable users expressed deep disappointment as the company reduced some people’s subscription income after making $100,000 a year. Less popular streamers trying to keep their careers on Twitch face even more financial instability. Earlier in 2022, Valkyra, an influencer who moved from Twitch to YouTube, discouraged a member of his community when asked for growth advice. “Don’t quit your job,” she said. “Take up streaming as a hobby.”
Much lower Amurant play Just dance and HassanAbi Reacting to his Twitter feed live on Twitch, a legion of unnoticed streamers are wishing for more openness on the platform. “Big streamers are great, but there are a lot of smaller streamers that are a lot of fun,” says rose evergreenperformed at the TwitchCon drag showcase.
“Twitch continues to grow,” says Tom Verrilli, Chief Product Officer at Twitch. “So the number of people we have to help surface is also growing exponentially.” The platform flourished at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Many streamers broadcast on no one at all.
Those who rely on streaming as their main source of income often experience burnout. Sometimes they stop broadcasting altogether. “I think the most rewarding aspect of streaming is not the growth aspect. Specifically, it’s about finding people,” says Mary Kish, director of community marketing at Twitch, who streams in her spare time. Twitch is interested in changing the community’s perspective on compensation at the current pay rates on the platform. A person who considers streaming their job can be devastated by getting $800 a month from the platform. An amateur may be happy to receive the same amount.
Instead of trying to play games that are popular on the platform, such as Apex Legends or valiant, several part-time creators successfully connect with like-minded people through unique broadcasts and out-of-the-ordinary gaming experiences. “My plan is my plan; it won’t be yours,” says Jay-Rock.
“Upgrade as you go. You don’t have to be elite from the start,” he says. As tempting as it might be to recreate the PC battlestation used by Twitch superstars, top-notch hardware isn’t necessary for someone who loves the weekend and streams a couple of times a month.
What if your postman was a V-tuber? Or your teacher broadcast Surgeon Simulator 2 after a long day of school? Hobbyists are the future of Twitch. Instead of endless group messages from this friend about a DJ set or yoga class, expect to receive invites (with links attached) to watch their live broadcast. Interest in video games is not required. Your friends can cook a gourmet dinner live or rant about their fantasy football draft. They might even take you on digital scene.