Streamers and Youtubers are becoming the way through which games boom, or fail. Many people look for Twitch game streams and Let’s Play series on Youtube. Some simply watch for fun. Others want to see if the games they intend to play are actually worth their time. Either way, these videos have become a medium that helps games reach thousands of viewers  Some developers are concerned that single-player games will be hurt by this. One genre however, has shown that it is not only able to adapt, but actually prosper in this new condition. That genre is survival games.

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A scene from Ark: Survival Evolved

Survival games like Minecraft, DayZ, ARK: Survival Evolved or Rust have been attracting viewers on Youtube and Twitch years after their release. Newcomers of the genre are no slouch either. Raft, a game in which players have to find ways to survive on a, well, raft in the middle of the sea, came out in May this year. It managed to sell 400,000 copies in the first 2 weeks. Several popular YouTube channels such as Achievement Hunter and The Family Gaming Team have featured it, bringing it to hundreds of thousands of people.

High Stake, High Entertainment

As the name of the entire genre implies, survival games often put your life at stake. You are often put in a life-or-death situation and have to find ways to get through with very little resource. There are other threats that you need to take into consideration as well. You can lose days of hard work in an instant at the hand of another player if the game is PvP. Or you may simply fail to best the hazardous environment. The exhilaration that stems from so much being at stake makes for great entertainment. “To see someone succeed after all that work is a really great feeling for everyone involved, the person making the content and the person watching because they’re brought along on the story with you.”, says Youtuber Rob Winter.

Freedom To Express Oneself

With survival games being as high-stake as they are, each and every action could mean the character makes it out alive, or it could mean everything comes crashing down in an instant. This downfall could be crushing or hilarious, depends on the creator. They are free to play the game the way they want to, and that is why many content creators are turning towards survival games. In a world where competition is growing every day, each Streamer or Youtuber is constantly looking for ways to set themselves apart from others. Therefore, the freedom that survival games provide makes them appealing to many content creators.

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Conan Exiles

Furthermore, many survival games give players the ability to mod the game to their liking. This further creates room for freedom and creativity. Streamer Alex Ponton, also known as FistofTheWalrus, compares games like ARK to a canvas. The base game is the surface, the mods are the colors, and you can paint whatever you want.

Ponton was able to convey his character, his story, his personality through games such as ARK and Conan. He became successful because he managed to turn his stream into a unique TV show that tempts viewers to come back to see how the story plays out.

Another example of content creators finding success through survival game is Achievement Hunter. This is a famous group of Youtubers who often create Let’s Play videos of different games. They began their career with Minecraft, and have since expanded to other games with open nature such as 7 Days to Die and The Forest. James Ryan Haywood, a member of Achievement Hunter, shares that picking a game to create a Let’s Play series for is a tricky endeavor. They need to find games through which they can express themselves.

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You can do anything in Minecraft

Similar to Ponton, Achievement Hunter found success by operating in a genre that enables, and actually promotes, freedom and creativity. Through a sandbox game like Minecraft, they were able to discover their own style. Achievement Hunter's content is a perfect mixture of skills, cooperation and funny, friendly insults that is attractive to hundreds of thousands of viewers. Haywood said that the interaction between players and how they react to different situations is “kind of what Let’s Plays thrive on sometimes.

Both sides benefit

Most content creators might not always think beyond how they can attract viewers, but they have a lot of influence on game developers. Take Raft for example. Coming from Redbeet Interactive, a relatively small company, the game would probably have never been as lucrative as it is had it not been for popular Youtubers and Twitch streamers introducing it to their viewers.

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Try to survive on a raft in Raft

Furthermore, content creators and their viewers also play the role of game testers. According to Redbeet Interactive CEO André Bengtsson, by watching gameplay videos of their own games on Twitch and Youtube, and looking at the comments, developers could get feedbacks on what they need to improve with the games, such as what bugs there are to fix, what features they need to add etc.

Survival Evolved

Not just content creators and viewers, but the gaming industry as a whole is noting the astounding success of survival games. Just look at the two games that are currently raking a massive amount of views on streams: PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite. The core idea of battle royale games like these is still survival: You are put in a harsh environment with nothing. You have to scour around the area for resources. Sometimes you have to fight almost literally tooth and nail with others. All of this just so you can survive as long as possible. The idea was actually nothing new. It was there in mods of games like Arma and DayZ long before the birth of PUBG and Fortnite. These game just did a good job of shrinking down the experience and make them more watchable and replayable.

Another promising game for Twitch Streamers and Youtubers who are into survival game is Bethesda’s upcoming Fallout 76. Survival is an aspect that has always been there in the Fallout series. But this next installment is looking more promising to survival game content creator than ever before.

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Fallout 76 is promising for survival game content creator

Perhaps the reason we enjoy survival games is because they appeal to our natural survival instinct. The adrenaline rush that you experience when fighting with your life on the line is just not something you could forget easily. But what makes us enjoy watching people play this kind of game is they are kind of like a virtual campfire. Everyone, be they viewers, creators, or game developers, can join in and contribute to the story.