Thanks to the internet, ‘playing video games for a living’ is a now a legitimate career choice. Thousands of gamers make money streaming through Twitch, uploading Let’s Play videos to YouTube and livetweeting events.
An elite few, however, have become legitimate megastars, earning millions of views, followers and subscribers and commanding the kind of loyalty, fame and fortunes usually reserved for movie stars, musicians and athletes.
Here are the world’s most popular online gamers, and how they built their immense online gaming empires from scratch...
The Prince of Facebook
Likes: 2, 962, 000+
That's more likes than: Queen Elizabeth II, Ryan Reynolds, Tom Daley
Hawaiian-born, LA-based Markiplier is a one-man internet empire. If his Facebook stats weren't staggering enough, this guy's racked up over 13,279,400 YouTube subscribers (the small feat of being the 27th most subscribed to channel on Earth) with a combined total of nearly 5 billion video views for his channel. He's a big fan of indie games and distinguishes his gaming style from others by an unusual yet memorable technique of screaming, crying and yelling his way through videos. When he’s not shocking his viewers with over-the-top reactions, you might find him eating his way through 13 habanero chillies while sitting in an ice bath.
The Duke of Twitter
That's more followers than: Madonna, Idris Elba, George R.R Martin
Willyrex, real name Guillermo Diaz, is a testament to how enormous and international the online gaming community has become. With all of his game streaming videos presented in Spanish, he has a YouTube following of over 9,713,587 subscribers making him one of the most powerful non-English speaking influencers on the net. He achieved fame by appealing to the vast Spanish-speaking audience base as well as through being a complete wiz at Minecraft and GTAV.
The Earl of Instagram
That's more followers than: Donald Trump, Samuel L Jackson, Andy Murray
At just 22, Olajide "JJ" Olatunji is an online force to be reckoned with. He's the undisputed FIFA king and it was this game that kick-started his rise to stardom. His YouTube channel, which has an impressive 13,114, 445 subscribers, is packed full of gaming, soccer (on a real field) and a touch of comedy. His road to fame was all down to persistence and mixing up his FIFA videos with some down-to-earth real life videos about his background and life. Nowadays you can also catch this multi-talented London lad rapping and acting, including in the “FIFA Rap Battles” segment on his YouTube channel.
The Lord of YouTube
Sky Does Minecraft
That's more subscribers than: Selena Gomez, Zoella, Beyonce
With only his fellow royals reigning above him, next in line for the 'Lord of YouTube' is US-Based Adam Dahlberg who is better known as Sky. Millions have flocked to Sky's channel for his fun and goofy Minecraft gaming of which he is the unrivalled online champion. With 3.3 billion hits across his rapidly growing collection of 1,500+ videos, he’s well on his way to becoming an internet icon. Adam started off playing Runescape before starting a separate channel to document his Minecraft achievements after the game was suggested to him by a friend. After rapid success documenting his Minecraft adventures, he became part of the popular Team Crafted but left the group in 2014.
The King of the Online Gamers
Total Global Reach: 12.4 billion
YouTube Subscribers: 47,100,000+
That's more subscribers than: Anybody on planet Earth
Who else? You don't have to be an online gamer to have heard of PewDiePie, better known as Felix Kjellberg. With over 7 million Facebook likes, 7.7 million Twitter followers, 8.9 million Instagram followers and a mind-blowing 12 billion total YouTube views (by far more views than there are human beings alive today), he's more than just the king of Online Gaming- he's the King of the Internet. Swedish-born, Brighton-based Felix dropped out of university and worked on a hot dog stand to fund his YouTube dream. It certainly more than paid off. PewDiePie gets up to all sorts these days but his passion still lies in video games and inviting his fans to play along with him. Hollywood and the music industry can only look on in envy as recent studies have repeatedly shown him to be more influential than most 'traditional celebrities'.