The Wall Street Journal reports that top streamers on Twitch are earning $50,000 or more per hour for streaming new video games.
Industry sources told Kotaku that the $50,000 price tag was not even the highest they had seen. Big name publishers are paying top dollar to well known Twitch streamers in order to boost their new game sales.
Marketing strategies are changing for video game publishers who are carrying out the switch from typical advertisements on Twitch to paying a top tier Twitch streamer to play and market their game for them to their loyal followings.
Influencers on YouTube and Instagram have for some time forged legitimate career paths by promoting paying brands. The influencer approach in gaming creates a feeling of trust between the streamer and the fan, since most of the viewers trust their chosen content creator to give their honest opinion on a game. However, it is common to see non-disparagement clauses in these contracts, meaning that a streamer can criticize a game, but cannot ridicule it.
What viewers might notice about this kind of marketing is a written disclosure or some other kind of verbal disclosure at the beginning of the stream. While some may miss the disclosures at the beginning of paid streams, some streamers will continually mention it or just post the hashtag in their stream’s title for clarity.
These disclosures are required by the Federal Trade Commission, which issued guidelines in 2017 requiring that influencers disclose their partnerships with advertising companies. This includes disclosing that game sales made using any affiliate links will result in the streamer earning a cut of those revenues.
Influencers are becoming more prominent in almost every industry. In the future, viewers may find it more difficult to find a streamer who has not yet taken payment from video game publishers. As more and more streamers take money from publishers, fans will have to carefully select who they trust in giving their honest opinion.