Playing video games is hard work. Really, it's a job - or it can become one. For most people, making a living from video gaming is a pipe dream, but for a lucky few, it's a full-blown career with lucrative benefits and adoring fans. One such gamer, Ninja, has taken the world by storm, thanks to his record-breaking number of subscribers, as well as the huge income he earns playing the video game Fortnite. But who is Ninja, and how much does the public truly know about him?
Ninja, currently the top streamer on Twitch, shot up from relative obscurity to become a household name. Even if you don't follow or participate in the world of Fortnite, you might have heard about Ninja or seen his colorful hair. Here are the answers to all of your questions about the megastar of eSports.
Ninja hasn't publicly confirmed his income, but those tracking his career throw around wild numbers about how much money he pulls in each month. The consensus is $560,000, which amounts to $6.7 million each year from streaming alone (without factoring in product placement, advertisements, and other potential financial deals).
The breakdown of his possible monthly income came in a Forbes article calculating the number of his Twitch subscribers (160,000) at a rate of $3.50 per subscriber. But this was only for Twitch - with over 17 million subscribers on YouTube, it's anyone's guess how much money he makes on that platform.
In August 2018, Ninja explained in a Polygon interview why he won't stream with female gamers. His reason was simple: he didn't want to put his wife through any of the gossip and allegations which often emerge when celebrities do anything online. He told Polygon:
If I have one conversation with one female streamer where we’re playing with one another, and even if there’s a hint of flirting, that is going to be taken [the wrong way] and going to be put on every single video and be clickbait forever.
There were mixed reactions to his comments, with some calling him anti-feminist, but others offering support and appreciation for Ninja's devotion to his wife, Jessica Blevins.
Ninja also responded on Twitter to critics of his stance: "While I understand some people have implied my views mean I have something against playing with women, I want to make clear the issue I'm addressing is online harassment, and my attempt to minimize it from our life."
Ever wanted to play a game with one of your favorite celebrities? Ninja not only did it - he did it with Drake. In March 2018, the rapper joined Ninja for a round of Fortnite and nearly brought Twitch to its knees. Before the match started, Ninja commented, "I’m like 99.9% sure we are about to break Twitch."
He was nearly correct because the pair set a new record: 628,000 concurrent viewers in a single match. The video earned Ninja national attention, helping to increase his numbers as a result.
First streamer on twitch to ever hit 10 million followers! This milestone is seriously ridiculous and the one I am most proud of. I have been streaming for a very very long time... and I cannot express how grateful I am to be in the position I am in.— Ninja (@Ninja) August 2, 2018
Love you guys pic.twitter.com/6aqdAM4icw
In the '80s, kids would crowd around an arcade cabinet while someone racked up the high score playing Pac-Man. These days, the number of watchers is a bit higher, thanks to streaming and Twitch. And Ninja's numbers are higher than anyone else's.
His average stream, featuring games outside of a tournament, garners approximately 950,000 views. His Twitch follower count is impressive, too, at around 10 million as of August 2018.
During a Fortnite streaming event in April 2018 in Las Vegas at the Esports Arena, Ninja broke his own Twitch record for streaming, with 667,000 viewers tuning in to watch. He also has more than 17 million subscribers on YouTube.
Ninja told CNBC about how Fortnite is popular in part because it's free to play; he also suggested why many people want to watch him play it:
I think that I offer a combination of high-tier gameplay that they really can't get with a lot of other content creators. It's very difficult to be one of the very best at a video game. I'm very goofy; if you ever watched any of my streams or YouTube videos, I do impressions and stuff like that all the time and just crazy shenanigans. I think the combination of that [game skill and entertainment] is really fun to watch.