As a variety streamer, there is something I see a lot which is really starting to, for want of a better phrase, grind my gears, and that is people suggesting that “We need more variety on streaming platforms”.
Excuse me first of all for pointing at myself, but joking aside I am actually going somewhere with this, so please bear with me.
Now just to make sure that I am absolutely clear and to make sure context is maintained, I am a variety streamer on Mixer. This is really important to the context of everything I am about to say, so just keep that in mind as you read what will end up being a round in circles rant, because this whole “problem” is a huge circle of issues.
First of all, the most important thing to note here, is that regardless of the streaming platform, variety does exist! I am proof of that, but I am just one person. But there are others, so many others, struggling to find their audience but hopefully having a lot of fun whilst they’re at it.
Despite this I keep seeing on twitter almost every day “We need more variety!” thank you for that. It’s nice to see variety talked about on social platforms. It makes variety a talking point and that is all to the good. You voicing your support for variety can only be a good thing. But how far does that support go? And keep up with me here because as I say, variety does exist. A lot of it. Lack of variety isn’t the issue.
The issue is that, despite the voicing of support constantly, variety actually gets very little support on the platforms. As I look on Mixer as I write this, I can find 6 streamers playing Euro Truck Simulator 2 (3 of which with 0 viewers), 52 streamers playing Skyrim (32 with 0 viewers, 15 with 1 viewer), 33 people playing The Sims 4 (14 with 0 viewers)… The list goes on but I’d be here all day. These are just a few examples I picked out of the herd.
It’s not that people aren’t playing a variety of games, it’s that people don’t want to watch a variety of games. People don’t want to support people playing a variety of games. I am generalising for sure as I have a solid community on Mixer that I have built on variety, but I am in a minority there. People like to complain that games like Fortnite and Apex Legends have taken over the streaming sites, without accepting that these games are simply the games that the majority of people want to watch.
The problem isn’t with the lack of variety content, the problem is in the genuine demand for variety content. But how much of a problem is it actually and what, realistically, can anyone do to change that?
The fact of the matter is, it’s not really a problem. If you are a good streamer (and let’s nip this controversial thing in the bud, not everyone is a good streamer) then you will know how to network. You’ll know how to entertain, or teach, or approach an audience, and you will grow somewhat from your own talent. This also ties into other things I’ve said in the past regarding being a streamer vs being someone who streams. It’s okay to stream and not identify as a streamer. It’s okay to stream to 0 people and not care. But if you do care, then getting good at being a streamer will help you find like-minded people.
The REAL problem, tying back to where I started all this, is people screaming how we need more variety, when in actual fact, they just aren’t looking for it. Streaming sites always list games by viewership, not by how many people are streaming them. It stands to reason that the popular games 99% of people want to see will be topping the list. It’s supply and demand. People will watch what they want, simple as that. Screaming that there isn’t enough variety is just a flat out lie, but by the same token, us variety streamers can’t just sit here and demand people watch our content if it’s not what people want to watch.
Similarly, people who complain about so many streamers playing the trending games are somewhat just as problematic. There are a good few streamers who stream for a living. It puts food on the table and it pays the rent. It makes sense that using the trends to help do just that is a thing. Hell, if I relied on my Mixer partnership to eat and have a roof over my head, I expect I would probably do the same. I am lucky enough to not have to do that because I have a steady job outside of streaming. My partnership helps me buy new games, increasing my variety and get upgrades and suchlike. People streaming trending games for a living isn’t a problem. Not enough variety isn’t a problem. People publicly claiming that there isn’t enough variety simply haven’t tried to support it properly, otherwise they would know its there. That is the “problem”, If you can call it that. I told you this would come full circle.
I say “problem” because it’s not really a problem. People like to claim it is, but it’s not. People will stream what content they want to stream. People will watch what content they want to watch. Where’s the problem?
Again, please remember I am generalising with this for sure. There are exceptions to this. There are people who say these things but do support variety streamers, but perhaps they just need to expand their horizons and see how many variety folks there are out there. Hell, even some of the trending game streamers will come out and find variety streamers because THEY need something different, but again, where is the problem? Was it ever a problem in the first place? Maybe we should stop calling out a variety problem and start celebrating our variety brethren. If you really believe it’s a problem, then go support some variety streamers, or be the change you want to see and stream some variety yourself! Be part of the solution to the problem you see.