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US has the largest gender pay gap for video game streamers

Half of US women streamers go unpaid despite country's higher-than-average spending on influencer support

Nearly half of women and a quarter of men who stream video game content are not paid for it in the United States. That's according to a new survey which shows the US with the greatest gender pay gap for live streamers, but also the largest average amount per person spent supporting streamers.

According to the survey conducted on PayPal's behalf by Superdata, globally, 38% of men who stream are not paid for it, compared to 43% of women. The gap is larger in the United States, where 24% of men and 47% of women are not paid. And yet, the amount spent to support live streamers was higher in the US than anywhere else at an average of $56.17 spent per person surveyed, compared to a global average of $30.36.

The fact that so many influencers aren't paid at all isn't reflective of how much influence gaming streamers exert. In the last two years, Superdata found there has been a decrease in customers turning to written reviews or other critiques to help them make purchasing decisions, and an increase in the influence of friends, family, streamers, and other personalities such as esports stars.

In the US, the percentage of customers making decisions based on written journalism has dropped to 16% from 21% in a 2016 survey. Japan had the largest drop from 46% to 14% in 2018. The US numbers around written journalism's influence can be contrasted with that of streamers and esports athletes, who influence 25% of gaming purchase decisions in the country.

As for what kind of content is doing the actual influencing, every gaming content category in PayPal's survey has seen an increase in viewership from 2016 to 2018 in the US, while those surveyed who said they didn't watch any gaming content at all dropped from 21% to 11%. Walkthroughs and humorous clips/montages both jumped from 19% of responders saying they had viewed this type of content in 2016 to 37% in 2018, with smaller but still significant gains across Let's Plays, reviews, trailers, and live streams. Esports is still bringing up the rear, with 6% of respondants stating they had viewed esports content in 2016 and 13% responding in the affirmative in 2018.

In addition to highlighting both the power and pay of influencers, the PayPal survey explored video game piracy. According to the survey, nearly $5 billion in game purchases are lost to piracy, with 14% of consumers globally admitted to pirating software over a three-month period. Of that 14%, almost a third of their games are pirated (33%).

[UPDATE]: After the publication of this story, a representative with PayPal reached out to retract the findings on piracy, saying "While we initially shared findings on that data, we ultimately weren't able to vet the info thoroughly enough to include it in the final report."

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Rebekah Valentine avatar
Rebekah Valentine: Rebekah arrived at GamesIndustry in 2018 after four years of freelance writing and editing across multiple gaming and tech sites. When she's not recreating video game foods in a real life kitchen, she's happily imagining herself as an Animal Crossing character.
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