Aug 20, 2019

The Rise Of Video Game Streamers As Influencers

Last month, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins announced that he would start live-streaming on and no longer be broadcasting on Twitch.TV. 

  • What is the role of Twitch and Mixer within the world of video game streaming?
  • What is the difference between a streamer and a traditional influencer?

Ninja’s surprising switch to Mixer is the result of an offer from the Microsoft-backed platform rumoured to be around the $50M mark. In his first month on the platform, the company made subscriptions to his channel free, before rising to $6-a-month in September.

So far, he has accrued over one million subscribers. Though the majority will likely not renew when the time comes to cough up the cash, even 10% retention would see Ninja bringing in upwards of $600,000-a-month for the company.

Ninja is so popular that today he released his own book detailing how to become as good at video games and streaming as he is.

In doing so, he has kickstarted a battle in the streaming world that has already seen multiple controversies. As the two companies jostle for position, it has become clear that the value in these gaming influencers is skyrocketing.

As is commonly known nowadays, the esports and gaming generation is the most resistant to traditional advertising in history. They pay for Netflix to avoid ads, they install ad blockers on their browsers, and they literally don’t watch Television because ‘ads are annoying’.

So, how do you reach them?

Though it took a while, marketing managers and advertising executives eventually took notice of their children, eyes glued to the mobile phone screen, watching a man with blue-dyed hair play Fortnite and dance around his room.

Using video game streamers as influencers certainly existed prior to Ninja’s emergence. The practice was largely limited to endemic esports-based companies and video game developers. Ninja’s sharp rise in popularity has served as an invitation for non-endemics to get involved.

Viewers build up a very intimate relationship with their favourite streamers. They can interact in real-time with their gaming heroes through the live-chat option and even pay for the privilege of calling themselves a ‘subscriber’, despite the fact that a paid subscription is not required to consume the content.

Imagine a professional footballer that let his fans come and watch him play kick-a-bout in the park, and you can understand the influencing power of a live streamer.

That closer relationship of course means that any products endorsed by the streamer will often be adopted by the viewers too. There’s a personal touch that you just do not get with many other kinds of influencers.

More and more mainstream brands are piling into esports to capitalise on a similar market. KIA in League of Legends, Audi in Counter-Strike, and Monster Energy in a plethora of esports titles are just a couple of examples.

But it is brands like Gillette, who have partnered with Twitch streamer DrDisrespect in the past, that are really ahead of the game. DrDisrespect, a character played by former game developer Guy Beahm, is an over-the-top macho man with a moustache he refers to as ‘Slick Daddy’. 

The primarily teenage and male audience he caters was the perfect demographic for Gillette. 

Companies like Huel, Uber Eats, and Hersheys have also all dabbled in personal live streaming sponsorships, and for the most part, have seen major success. 

Esports and gaming continues to be an ever-changing landscape for brands looking to reach the younger audience. Popular titles swing in and out of fashion at the drop of a hat, and new superstars in the scene rise up every month.

While esports remains king for now, working primarily with independent live streamers may become the most beneficial partnerships for non endemic brands.