The live streaming of video games is an activity where people broadcast themselves playing games to a live audience online. The practice became popular in the mid-2010s on the US-based site Twitch, before growing to YouTube, Facebook, China-based sites Huya Live, DouYu, and Bilibili, and other services. By 2014, Twitch streams had more traffic than HBO's online streaming service, HBO Go. Professional streamers often combine high-level play and entertaining commentary, and earn income from sponsors, subscriptions, ad revenue, and donations.
Both AAA and indie developers have circumvented rising development costs by utilizing the free advertising live streaming provides. Independent titles such as Fall Guys, Rocket League, and Among Us are examples of games that have experienced a huge increase in player base as a result of streaming. Esports have also gained significant traction and attention from the accessibility of live streaming, and streaming has even been used as a method to raise awareness of social issues and money for charity.
Live streaming offers the allure of transforming a hobby of playing a video game into a full career of streaming, but brings with it the risks associated with this added renown, whether they be inside the video game, like stream sniping, or in real life, like stalking and swatting. Additionally, the low bar of entry in terms of technology and audience allows for a wide variety of streamers and games to be broadcast.