Working Outside of My Stream
First I want to talk about how tough this year has been for me mentally. At the end of 2017/start of 2018 I got a lot of opportunities to travel to cast events, which was really amazing. It was actually everything I had wanted to achieve in my career. This is what I had always aimed to do – to be one of the best and to earn my way to these events. Sadly after WESG in March 2018 I didn’t really get many more offers.
I travelled to Italy for the QLASH Finals, but I took such a huge pay cut for the weeks of online casting & my regular fee that I essentially worked the finals weekend for free. I also got to go to Germany to cast Penthouse Party, where I worked for free after fundraising to afford my hotel. I attended HomeStory Cup as always, but not as a paid caster, just as a fan who made their own way there.
I was losing a lot of other online work as well. The WESG Qualifiers offered me such a small amount I couldn’t accept without admitting I was basically working for free. The WESG system in general cut down to only one main event and even there I was lucky as a last minute change to the broadcasting partner saw me picked up for the event, where I managed to go ahead and have one of my worst weeks of casting ever. Insomnia haunted me every night and I was casting long days on less than an hours sleep for the entire week. I did my cocasters and viewers a disservice and I was so disappointed.
WCS Spring rolls around and I’m having a lot of family problems, my mum was in hospital for two months with Encephalitis, something which we now know has affected her life forever. I was already streaming very little because of this, but suddenly there was a ray of sunshine – Blizzard contacted me to say it was likely they needed a replacement caster for the event and if I could clear my schedule they would confirm for me ASAP. So I cancelled all my events for the week, only to be told a few days later after my own asking that I wasn’t actually needed.
Earlier in the year, before my mum had gone into hospital, I had planned a trip to Korea to attend a GSL Finals. This was like a life-goal vacation/trip for me and it’s very rare that I travel somewhere that isn’t work related so I was excited to treat it as more of a vacation. Sadly this was just something else that came back to bite me in the ass. Because of my trip I lost the ability to be a part of the second season of the QLASH Invitational. I lost two other paid casting gigs offered to me during the time I would be away. I was so devastated I was on the verge of cancelling my trip, because I was so desperate to be able to work events and to get these opportunities.
In the end I went to Korea and honestly I didn’t have the amazing time I wanted to. I cut my days short so I could go back to the hotel and cast because my stream had been so poor lately that I was too anxious to skip broadcasts while I was away for Korea and HSC.
At this point I felt basically everything possible could have gone wrong for me. WCS didn’t seem interested in me for Summer, which means I almost certainly won’t do a WCS event this year. Then ASUS ROG came around. I won’t even go into the part where Blizzard forgot they were sponsoring my Team Liquid Map Contest Tournament and so allowed ASUS to initially schedule their qualifiers directly over it, because at the end of the day it got sorted even if I did lose some sleep and another day of my vacation trying to fix it.
From the moment it was announced I contacted an admin of the event to express my desire to cast. In the end it came around that I could be a community stream for the qualifiers/perhaps the event, so whatever. At least it was some extra content to cover. So I cast all of the qualifiers and as far as I knew I was allowed to be a community stream for the main event for whichever days they needed me.
What’s really bummed me out on this one is that when Kaelaris wasn’t able to attend the event I got completely ignored as an option. When I saw the initial talent line-up it made sense. It wasn’t huge, they got the best in Europe, and there wasn’t space for me. I get that,
I can accept that even if it sucks. For them to then need a replacement and find out they asked multiple people and didn’t even consider me because “Wardi is casting B Stream” it’s just infuriating. These are the opportunities I strive for day in and day out. They are the reasons I sit through long solo cast days with no pay as community streamer, to get in peoples good books and to be noticed.
To be left out because I volunteered to community cast is not just sad, it’s insulting. It makes me look like an idiot, woohoo I get to cast the B Stream on my own for 12 hours a day when everyone is focused on the main stream. What a great deal, I’m so glad I have that over getting to cast an offline event! I honestly don’t know how to properly put it into words because I am truly devastated by it and I don’t even know what to do anymore.
I was so upset I had to shut down my stream during my own tournament yesterday because I just had all these things in my head thinking am I doing the right thing? Should I just give up? I know they are stupid things to think, but at the end of the day there are so few opportunities that to miss one because of my own good will of volunteering… I still feel sick about it.
There’s no right decision, so I just went with what my morals told me to do. I informed ASUS I was no longer interested in community casting. How could I be? Can I ever be again? I’m at a weird point where I really thought it was still worth it for me to stream these events as a community streamer, but now I’m realizing it might actually be costing me opportunities because people only ever see me as the B Stream guy.
But let’s just talk quickly about something else that really bothers me in all of this, that’s very relevant to being the B Stream.
Why don’t large events pay for B Streams?
WCS don’t pay for the B Stream and for WCS Spring this resulted in them having no additional English coverage for the tournament. Other tournaments don’t pay for it either; they just think they are doing us casters a favour by letting us cast their events.
These are long days with often little reward because at the end of it most people’s eyes are on the main stream. Even if your viewership is up a lot of that viewership is caught on a second monitor, so your chances to monetize that viewership is extremely low.
The reality is it would be so cheap for them to pay for a B Stream in the grand scheme of things. $400 and boom you have a guaranteed stream where the caster is absolutely motivated and knows they are working for something, instead of the hopes of donations. Honestly add in $200 more and you could have the stream on one of your own channels, if metrics and branding is important to you. And these are just my rough estimated rates, there are other community streamers who will work for less.
$400 is nothing to these companies. It’s commonly known that a starting “day rate” for offline event work across esports is around $500 per day. But because the B Stream requires no travelling and you are working from home, you can literally get someone to be the B Stream for less than that, and yet they don’t. I honestly think it’s really disappointing and I hope this is something that will be looked at and thought about in the future.
Why my stream isn’t doing well
Did you know that for a stream with the average viewership of mine, the expected subscriber count is often 3-4 times, if not more, than my own subscriber count? This is something which has always been on my mind and I mention it sometimes on stream but I’m just going to write it down and get it out of me.
Trying to monetize content in StarCraft 2 as a caster is so difficult. There is a reason that the top tier casters such as PiG, Rotti, DeMuslim don’t sit around casting a lot on their own channels. People are more likely to support a streamer who is playing a game, than they are to support a streamer who is commentating a game. The ideas of casting separates you from the usual intimacy and sense of community that most streams hold and these are the things that usual drive subscriptions.
I try to adjust for it in my casting by being very interactive with chat during downtime, during slower parts of the games and by trying to have some fun and different conversations instead of telling everybody for the 8th time in a row that it’s a StarGate opening, yet this just nets the spam of “shut up and focus on the game”. It’s so infuriating because of the mental effect reading that over and over again has on you. It makes me doubt my own practices that I have developed because I know it is a good thing.
It makes streaming for me exhausting and it really drags on me lately. Two years ago I feel like I could cast a 16 hour day solo, go to bed wake up and do it again. More and more nowadays I find myself getting tilted at chat and these stupid comments which when paired up with a 6 hour stream in which I get $5 donated and one new sub, I truly ask myself what I’m doing.
It’s really hard to find more ways to push the monetization on my channel. Honestly one of the only reasons I’m doing alright this year is because of the Twitch Bounty Board. From doing these Twitch bounties, I have made more money in about 14 hours of streaming that I have from multiple months of SC2 casting put together. It’s really disheartening.
Did you know it costs me to stream?
Most streamers sit down and stream on a schedule. They have some set time outside of streaming to work on other stuff, maybe YouTube content, perhaps improving the stream or whatever. For me that sounds like a luxury. On average it costs me $30-50 per stream to stream because there aren’t enough events to cast so I have to make my own. I spend about $1000/month minimum on events and I usually steam around 25 times a month, sometimes a bit more.
So not only is my subscriber count and whatever else down from usual averages, but I straight up have to pay to be able to create work for myself. Then people come into my chat and tell me I have 350 subs and so I should be doing just fine. Just something else that pisses me off. There’s not much else to be said on this one, it’s just something else to consider when I look at my future in StarCraft.
Obviously running my own events adds in extra hours of work as well. I have to do a lot of scheduling around other events, contacting players, setting up brackets, Matcherinos, Team Liquid threads, other promotion. On average I spend about 5-10 hours per week doing admin stuff before I can even look towards improving my stream, working on YouTube content etc. And that is 5-10 hours which I’m obviously not paid for, I’m literally spending money to do it.
Do I have a future in StarCraft?
For the first time in a very long time I actually don’t know if I do. While my stream has its ups as well as these downs, the downs really drag me along mentally and every time something like this happens it feels like it only gets tougher.
I don’t seem to have much potential in terms of working other events anymore, my own events are costing me a lot of money and I don’t really have any other approach other than to be a caster. So yeah, perhaps I am a bit negative in my mind today while writing this, but that’s been the feeling I’ve had throughout most of 2019 so I guess that’s the honest feeling.
I truly hope I can turn something around, or perhaps something clicks mentally so I can keep going and pushing out content like I have been. I truly love doing what I do when I don’t like the negativity get to me and when I don’t dwell on the negative parts.
Thanks for reading my emo blog.