From millionaire Twitch streamers to esports athletes – Is gaming about having fun anymore?

Online gaming has experienced an incredible boom in the last decade. Originally, the concept of online gaming was drastically different, with people playing LAN games and playing purely for fun against their friends. Today, the scene could not be more different.


Now, the average gamer has a high-speed internet connection, and the latest generation console or an ultra-spec gaming PC complete with dazzling RGB lighting. Players can also battle against or with people from around the globe on hundreds of different games.


It’s truly a great time to be an avid gamer. However, there could be a potential problem. Due to the increased popularity of online gaming, esports have boomed. As a side effect of this, there are people who feel that the enjoyment and fun of gaming has been destroyed and replaced by a desire for money and fame. But is this true? We look at the facts below!


Esports is big money as the stats show


Let’s look at the facts that prove this sentiment first. There is no denying that there is a lot of money involved in online gaming. Indeed, while gaming as a form of entertainment is still the primary purpose, there are many people and organizations who use gaming as a viable source of income, and even as a full-time job. The following are some stats to show just how pivotal money is in esports:


  •   In 2021, the esports industry had a value exceeding $1bn.
  •   Cumulative prize money for DoTA 2 reached $50m in 2021.
  •   A top esports team – Team Liquid, has earned over $40m in prize money.
  •   Esports sponsorships alone generate over $600m in marketing.


These are some incredible stats. When I started gaming in the early 2000s, I would have never imagined that esports would turn into this. Indeed, back then, there were esports competitions such as the Electronic Sports League, but the prize money and userbase were incredibly small.


Today, the whole industry is supercharged and there is some serious money to be made. Gamers can earn ridiculous prize money for ranking in tournaments and winning competitions. They can also make bank from YouTube and Twitch, and many professional esports teams have sponsorship deals and managers.



We only have to look at the streaming platform Twitch to see just how lucrative gaming is as opposed to simply having fun. Twitch streamers can earn a living from playing games such as Fortnite, Call of Duty and Minecraft. Below we have listed the top Twitch streamers together with their current follower count:


  •   Ninja – 18 million
  •   Auronplay – 12.8 million
  •   Rubius – 11.9 million
  •   Tfue – 11.1 million
  •   xQc – 10.8 million


Think about it, Ninja has 18 million people that watch him play video games! It’s insane! These are not isolated numbers either. Online streaming is an entire industry, and platforms such as YouTube and Twitch can give top gamers financial stability and fame that most people can only dream of.


But the enjoyment of gaming is not dead!


Despite the above statistics and figures, I don’t believe that the fun and enjoyment has been completely sapped from gaming. For a large percentage of gamers, playing on their Xbox or PC is simply a hobby – something they do to relax, escape from real life and spend time with their friends.


In addition, it’s not as if esports competitors and online streamers don’t have fun either. It is clear to see when watching a Twitch streamer or a live esports game that the competitors have a genuine love for what they are doing and that the money and fame are only part of the whole story.


Also, technological advancements, and the continued development of consoles, PCs and games, means that the games and experiences themselves are more fun than ever.


I hope you have found this article insightful! We cannot deny that esports has transformed online gaming and that money and fame play a huge part in the industry. Kids can now potentially achieve their dream job of playing video games for a living, whereas in my generation, this simply wasn’t a possibility.


However, I wholeheartedly feel that the enjoyment and fun are still present in gaming too. Few people will start gaming as a means of making money. Instead, most people get their first console or gaming PC due to a simple desire to have some fun, play with friends and explore different universes.



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