Entertainment is big business.
Streamers have been a part of the internet world since around the conception of YouTube in 2006. Different gaming titles are associated with different streamers, and I know of Ninja for Fortnite and NickMercs for Call of Duty as the two that I am familiar with. Streamers are (often) extremely talented and amusing gamers who broadcast their gaming sessions for public entertainment. With FIFA, there are a large number but I’ll leave it to you to see who’s best.
In recent times, well-known household names ranging from sports to entertainment including Sergio Aguero, Post Malone and Mia Malkova have put their face on the homepage of Twitch (if you don’t know who these individuals are, best to Google them - except … you’ll see what I mean).
I loathe many streamers. I absolutely loathe them to my heart’s content. Nothing in the world makes me hate anything more than a set of pompous, narcissistic and decrepit collection of obsequiously repulsive bags of manure, which describes half of Manchester United’s fan base too, coincidentally. Take some of the biggest FIFA streamers online. Individually, calculations suggest they spent upwards of £10,000 in one sitting (and that’s only just two separate content creators). The thorn in my side is that since their videos hit the front face of YouTube and Twitch (and kids being kids have no abstract ability to differentiate any utopia from reality), it further encourages kids and gamers alike to feel that if they invest in the game through purchasing in game currency such as ‘FIFA points’, they will also be as lucky as their favourite streamers. That’s simply not true.
The irony of some of these ‘entertaining streamers’ is that they’re not entertaining at all. I should stress here (before 10-year-olds with colourful shovels and fortnite-stickered pitchforks join forces and wish to hunt me down in their Fischer-Price automobiles) that I do enjoy some streamers and YouTube gamers. I think it’s worthwhile to lay praise to some of my favourites that I’ve come across during my time in video gaming, which I shall do now.
Often, it is a shame that less prominent talents don’t get the viewership they deserve, and one of my favourites is ‘GGReloaded’. Coming in at under 50,000 subscribers at time of writing, I enjoy the way he embraces the toxicity of the Call of Duty player base as he camps in a corner of the map, surrounded by claymores whilst wielding the 725 shotgun and records the reactions of his enemies. Their frustrations through the form of expletives and toxic quips often make for great entertainment, although I would recommend not replicating his camping nature since he only employs such measures for illustrative purposes.
A far larger name with just under 600,000 subscribers is MarleyThirteen. Considered to be the most dangerous Scotsman with a weapon since Braveheart, I enjoy his natural reaction to the challenges he faces (coupled, of course, with a strong Scottish accent to enhance the viewing entertainment) whilst he rampages around Verdansk, leaving trails of unfortunate soldiers in his wake.
For those that enjoy FIFA, a former legend I would have recommended 12 months ago would have been kurt0411. Arguably one of the best FIFA players in the world, his low-blow criticisms of the game’s mechanics alongside his hysterical character have given the football video gaming community a collage of memorable moments although, unfortunately, they have also landed him on the naughty step of Electronic Arts with bans and prohibitions of attending eSports tournaments.
A recent name that I have had the pleasure of watching is McJell. Clocking in with 110,000 subscribers, he can be considered one of the smaller online successes during the lockdown period. Sometimes, it’s more entertaining to watch someone online who is as bad as you are in a hobby you share with them, just so you can see a reflection of your emotions and frustrations. His reviews of the latest releases on Ultimate Team, not to mention the simple yet witty editing style he employs in his videos, were the main reasons that he became a recent sensation in the FIFA community.
As irresponsible as a Rugby Medic at a socially distanced curry night
One point I alluded to briefly in my previous article ‘It’s game over for loot boxes, EA’ is that some streamers can potentially wield a destructive influence over their younger audience. This is a problem I feel which is growing with games that incorporate microtransactions into their game design. For those reading who scrawl at the phrase ‘video game’, a microtransaction is simply a small financial payment made for items that a player can use when playing the game’s main modes.
There are issues, however with such models.
First, gamers can and actually have reportedly been facing financial troubles due to addictions and/or paying excessively for specific items in a game’s online store. As irresponsible as a Rugby Medic at a socially distanced curry night, gamers can rack up significant debts and cause a lot of pain for those that have to clean up the mess — you only have to go online these days to see examples of such shocking news.
There are games, however, where the items available for purchase are only cosmetic. My best example that I mentioned previously was Modern Warfare. The game’s skill gap is not defined by the items you’ve purchased in your inventory, since the store only sells cosmetic assets to improve the appearance of the guns available, but actually by how good you are at positioning you and your team in a gunfight, your ability to control your gun in high-pressured situations and knowledge of geography with regards to where you are in the game’s vast map.
For this reason, when streamers record videos playing Call of Duty, they are only limited to getting their hands on cosmetic variations of guns and cannot purchase, for instance, a plasma-powered machine gun for £10.99 that offers them a significant advantage in a gunfight. It is my opinion that more gaming publishers take a leaf out of Infinity Ward’s book and redesign their game design practices to provide a level-playing field whilst only retailing non-performance enhancing assets as a source of income. Quite often, they’re actually great to watch too!
In general, streamers and YouTube gamers have a history of being negatively influencers towards their fanbase. Their over expenditure on in-game currency can be labelled irresponsible and needs to be addressed in the immediate future. There are some good content creators, and those I alluded to are extremely amusing in their own ways. Game designers do need to change their practices, and there are already some games who have adopted a sustainable income without ruining the integrity of the gaming world that we often immerse ourselves in.