There's a lot of money to be made not just in video games, but in streaming videos about video games.
The online videos -- made by fans and game makers alike, and posted to sites like YouTube and Twitch -- include a variety of genres. "Let's Play" videos feature a player running through a game while providing commentary and observations. Walk-throughs provide hints and tips. Live streams boast gamers playing live for an audience. And then there are straightforward trailers.
It all adds up to big business: SuperData, a research company focused on the video game market, released a report Thursday saying that such videos are worth $3.8 billion worldwide, with an audience of more than 480 million people.
The number paints a picture of just how lucrative this secondary market -- a tangent from the core video game business -- has grown to be in a short span of time. The new market, which sprung up around 2012, lets popular and good gamers make money from ad revenue, subscriptions, donations and sponsorships. It also gives game publishers exposure to a wider audience without the need to spend marketing dollars. Developers, too, can get feedback on features to implement or bugs to fix.
YouTube clips featuring the top ten video game franchises saw 81 billion views in 2014, according to SuperData. YouTube videos featuring the game Minecraft were watched the most, with over 30 billion views. League of Legends, however, made the most digital revenue, pulling in more than $1.3 billion.
The data comes after information surfaced about how much money was made last year by YouTube personality Felix "PewDiePie" Kjellberg. Known for his style of comedy and the obscenities he spouts while playing, the Swedish gamerfor his videos, which racked up 9.1 billion views. On Tuesday, Kjellberg posted a response to critics who had slammed him for essentially making money by playing video games.
Kjellberg and other YouTube personalities -- or "YouTubers" -- are among the most popular makers of these game-related videos. Of the $3.8 billion made last year by this kind of star, $2.9 billion came from ad revenue and sponsorships. The rest came from viewers, by way of donations and paid-channel subscriptions. American live-stream viewers donate an average of $4.64 a month.
Google-owned YouTubeby introducing its YouTube gaming app and website, set to launch this summer. SuperData said that though YouTube draws 72 percent of the viewers, live-game streaming service Twitch, owned by Amazon, makes more money.