Motivations for watching video game streams

Data Collected: July 17, 2015
Sample: RapidPoll of 350 US video game stream viewers

Gameplay streams from video games are becoming a popular form of entertainment for many people. Over 100 million unique viewers watch 16 billion minutes of streamed gameplay on Twitch each month. What are viewers looking for when they watch gameplay streams? We asked 350 video gamers in the US that watch video game streams why do you watch streamed or recorded PC or video games? in our latest RapidPoll. We found that there are four core motivations for viewing streamed gameplay.

In a recent RapidPoll, we learned that roughly 55% of gamers at least occasionally watch video game streams. There were 10 distinct motivations that stood out from the rest.

As we delve into the details of why the view gameplay streams, a framework emerges that shows two key components to viewership motivations: Focus and Purpose.

Focus is “what” they are watching. Viewers have two major focus motivations: game-focused or caster-focused. A game-focused motivation means they are interested in the game that is being played more than the individual streamer or caster. Those viewers that have a caster-focused motivation watch the gameplay streams to see the individual caster.

The second component of viewer motivation is the purpose. There are two major purpose motivations: entertainment and information. Viewers with an entertainment purpose are looking to the gameplay streams to entertain them, make them laugh, or provide some excitement. Viewers with an information purpose are looking for information or to answer a question, whether it is how to get past a certain part in the game or discover if it is a game they would like playing.

Combining these two factors, you get four core motivations for viewing gameplay streams. Some people exhibit attributes from more than one core motivation, but most strongly favor one of these:

  • Game-Focused Entertainment (53%)
  • Game-Focused Information (49%)
  • Caster-Focused Entertainment (21%)
  • Caster-Focused Information (8%)

Game-Focused Entertainment

Viewers of this type are interested in the particular game being played for entertainment purposes. They view gameplay streams as an alternative to television or watching sports and make gameplay streams their entertainment of choice. They want to watch gameplay simply to be entertained. Some reasons why these viewers tune in to watch gameplay streams include:

  • To watch the action of a game or eSports competition.
  • To watch someone play through the story of a game that they either can’t or don’t want to play through themselves. This could be because they don’t own the platform that the game is available for, or they want to see the story without the frustration of difficult gameplay.

Game-Focused Information

Viewers of the this type are interested in learning something specific about a game. They are watching gameplay streams with the intent of gathering information to help them. Some reasons why these viewers watch gameplay streams include:

  • To get specific tips to help them progress when they are stuck in a game.
  • To get strategy tips to improve their skill in a game.
  • To research a new game they are interested in before making a purchase decision.

Caster-Focused Entertainment

Viewers of this type are interested in watching a specific caster for their individual commentary or personality. Some reasons why these viewers watch gameplay streams include:

  • To be entertained by the caster’s commentary.
  • To enjoy the caster’s unique personality.
  • To watch a highly-skilled player perform difficult in-game actions.

Caster-Focused Information

Viewers of this type are interested in watching a specific caster to learn about the game or improve their own skills. Some reasons why these viewers watch gameplay streams include:

  • To watch how a highly-skilled player performs to improve their own skills.
  • To see and hear what a trusted reviewer thinks of a game.

Other Findings

Looking more at the data, there are a few interesting nuggets of information to be gleaned.

  • Almost all viewers (89%) have a strong game-focused motivation.
  • In general, the purpose shifts from entertainment to information as age increases.

Next week we shift gears and start a three-week look at crowd funding behavior and spending. Make sure you subscribe to our newsletter so you will be notified of future reports!