How To
 mins read

Why Identifying Gaming Influencers Requires a Different Approach

Jan 15, 2020

I remember the first time I saw somebody playing a video game.: As a kid I went to my father’s office, and they were playing Prince of Persia on a PC. Keep in mind, I grew up in Siberia in the early 90s… so this was impressive!  I was too anxious to play, so I just watched, and it was incredible. Nowadays, there are millions of people streaming themselves playing video games, and millions of people watching them, chatting, and forming a community.

While the beauty and fashion industries are now fully dominated by a global community of influencers, popular gamers are on the rise and starting to rival their counterparts in other sectors in terms of their power and influence.

You don’t need to look far to find the biggest stars in the space like Ninja or Markiplier, but if you want to find all the influential people who play a particular game (especially if the game is popular), get ready to sweat.

Unlike the beauty industry, with Instagram and Youtube dominating the landscape, gaming influence doesn’t necessarily measure in ‘followers’ and ‘subscribers’. What matters for gaming influencers is the actual audience watching a particular stream or video, typically expressed as ‘average concurrent viewership’; and that can be a different number entirely.

Gamers are located all over the world, streaming 24/7, so you need periodic snapshots of top gamer data to understand the landscape. In addition, the industry is very fluid: popular streamers today may be different from the top streamers several weeks from now.

As a result, game marketers face challenges in identifying relevant influential gamers:

  • Where should I look?
  • What KPIs should I measure and compare?
  • When and for how long should I measure?

At Traackr, we took to Twitch as the primary platform for streamers. Youtube and Mixer are the two other major game streaming platforms, but Twitch still dominates for both hours watched and hours streamed.

The Twitch developer API allowed us to evaluate the top streamers data and how much it changes over time. Their API also has an endpoint for ‘top games’, which you can use for the freshest list of the most relevant games.

After several tests, we decided it was optimal to access top streamers data for any given game every couple of hours and that at least several weeks of data should be collected to identify most of the unique top streamers. 

Finally, there is a difference between the top gamers for a popular game streamed by thousands of people, and a more niche game with far fewer streamers, so to compare apples to apples, we’ve included a minimum viewer count into the equation. 

Twitch metrics website collects their data in a similar way, but the ranked data here is only a snapshot at each point in time, and for influencer marketing purposes you need a much broader pool over a much longer time period.

The data extracted in such a way provides interesting insights about this very fluid industry. Even within a month, you can see substantial changes. For instance, you can see how the top 20 games streamed by the top gamers with at least 200 viewers change week by week in the following graphs:

Borderlands 3, for example, was the seventh most streamed game on week 1, moved to the 16th place on week 2, and disappeared from the top 20 in the following weeks. FIFA20 was the 18th place on the week 1, and moved up to be the 6th on week 2. Some games not in the top 20 on the first two weeks, for example, Destiny 2, Code Vein, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint, Escape from Tarkov, etc. emerge in the list on weeks 3 and 4.

You can also evaluate some of the demographics of the streamers once you gather enough data; for example, here are the top 15 languages the streamers with at least 200 viewers used between September 15 and October 12:

Although it’s hard to pinpoint locations of the gamers, once they are in Traackr, we’re also able to cross-referenced their public location data coming from channels other than Twitch.

In fact, while looking at the data, I was pleasantly surprised to find a few prominent gamers from my hometown, and although it’s not Prince of Persia, I was excited to take a peek at their streams. For example, Evgeny Kamushkin (Evgexa), a prominent Minecraft gamer from Tomsk, has over 2 million subscribers on Youtube and over 45 thousand followers on Twitch! It’s amazing that you can become a widely recognized gamer and streamer from anywhere in the world.

Although Twitch is only one part of our overall exploration in gaming, it proved useful in gaining a better grasp of the industry and validated the fact that influencer identification in gaming requires a different approach compared to traditional influencer-dominated industries.