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The Shocking Truth About Game Streaming

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How video game streamers and their viewers may be destroying the planet

Since the launch of the website Twitch in 2011, streaming and the viewing of streams has risen to dizzying heights of popularity.

Every week MILLIONS of people from all over the world either upload their streams, live stream or watch the streams from their favourite gamers. Some - Ninja for example - have managed to make a very lucrative living off becoming a professional streamer. But at what cost?

The Shocking Truth About Game Streaming

Much is said about the impact of everyday household appliances using too much energy, TV on standby, leaving a mobile charger plugged in, putting the washing machine on again because you forgot to hang out your clothes, and so on. However, not much is said about the impact of gaming consoles - to play and to stream videos on.

To shine a light on the matter we have analysed Twitch data to calculate the impact Twitch viewers and game streamers are having on the planet - and which games are the most detrimental.

Video game stream viewers are responsible for OVER 919k TONS of CO2 a year... and these are the games responsible

As there are more stream viewers than actual streamers on Twitch, it should come as no surprise that they are accountable for producing the most amount of CO2.

Over the course of one year, 1.7m viewers spent over 896 BILLION hours watching streams on Twitch. When an average of the streaming energy use of popular plug-in consoles plus PC is used (0.07kWh), this equates to a massive 59.7bn kWh (59.7k gWh) per year, just on watching video game streams.

When we put that into perspective, that is enough energy to power Jamaica for 20 years or Cyprus for 13 years. It is also enough energy to power the Delorean time machine 49,350 times, giving Marty more than enough time to make sure his present and future was just right!

But what about the impact...

This level of energy consumption produces a lot of emissions. Viewers on Twitch are responsible for emitting 919m kgs (919k tons) of carbon dioxide per year.

This is the same as 399,000 flights from London to Florida, or the same weight as 9,000 adult male Blue Whales or 74,000 double decker buses.

In fact, it would take over 43.7million fully grown trees a year to absorb that amount of CO2. That is enough trees to fill 35,110 football pitches!

These are the 25 biggest energy consuming game streams being watched on Twitch, over the past 12 months

The 25 biggest energy consuming game streams being watched on Twitch, over the past 12 months

Rank

Game

Electricity used watching kWh

Co2 produced (t)

Cost (GBP)

Cost (USD)

1

League of Legends

6,853,684,714

105,527

£1,233,663,249

$896,114,479

2

Grand Theft Auto V

5,178,427,301

79,733

£932,116,914

$677,075,745

3

Fortnite

4,844,579,123

74,593

£872,024,242

$633,425,329

4

Call of Duty: Warzone

3,846,122,062

59,219

£692,301,971

$502,877,767

5

Minecraft

2,992,380,707

46,074

£538,628,527

$391,251,683

6

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

2,978,752,608

45,864

£536,175,469

$389,469,818

7

VALORANT

2,881,482,575

44,367

£518,666,864

$376,751,830

8

Among Us

2,038,116,241

31,381

£366,860,923

$266,482,272

9

Dota 2

1,960,205,337

30,182

£352,836,961

$256,295,476

10

World of Warcraft

1,907,333,330

29,368

£343,319,999

$249,382,498

11

Apex Legends

1,822,803,234

28,066

£328,104,582

$238,330,247

12

Escape from Tarkov

1,704,350,866

26,242

£306,783,156

$222,842,683

13

FIFA 21

1,312,070,296

20,202

£236,172,653

$171,552,273

14

Rust

1,287,156,945

19,819

£231,688,250

$168,294,870

15

Hearthstone

1,108,050,122

17,061

£199,449,022

$144,876,778

16

Dead by Daylight

956,286,119

14,724

£172,131,501

$125,033,741

17

Rocket League

820,949,451

12,640

£147,770,901

$107,338,566

18

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout

778,851,383

11,992

£140,193,249

$101,834,273

19

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege

719,826,519

11,083

£129,568,773

$94,116,814

20

Teamfight Tactics

695,030,514

10,702

£125,105,493

$90,874,753

21

Overwatch

662,517,070

10,201

£119,253,073

$86,623,643

22

PUBG

639,362,315

9,844

£115,085,217

$83,596,175

23

Path of Exile

514,297,057

7,919

£92,573,470

$67,243,980

24

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War

492,902,081

7,589

£88,722,375

$64,446,602

25

Genshin Impact

456,090,356

7,022

£82,096,264

$59,633,495

Video game streamers use enough power in one year to keep Gibraltar going for 24 YEARS

The streamers, although not as much as their viewers, still produce a large amount of CO2 emissions.

During the past 12 months, over 28.75m streamers on Twitch have spent 36.16 BILLION hours of stream time on the platform. Based on the average energy used for gameplay across the popular plug in consoles and PC (0.13kWh), this adds up to a 4.79 million kWh of energy used per year, resulting in 134 million kg CO2.

This would take 6.4m trees a year to absorb, filling 5.1k football pitches.

So what is this equal to? It may be a drop in the ocean, or the Ozone, compared to the viewers’ emissions but this amount of energy would still be enough to power Gibraltar for 24 years or the Falkland Islands for 262 years - just from one year of video game streaming.

These are the 25 biggest energy consuming games being streamed by gamers on Twitch, over the past 12 months

The 25 biggest energy consuming games being streamed by gamers on Twitch, over the past 12 months

Rank

Game

Electricity used Streaming kwh

Co2 produced (t)

Cost (GBP)

Cost (USD)

1

Fortnite

699,564,390

19,659

£3,894,044

$2,751,337

2

Call of Duty: Warzone

456,032,255

12,815

£2,538,451

$1,793,542

3

League of Legends

331,440,620

9,314

£1,844,926

$1,303,532

4

VALORANT

284,247,653

7,988

£1,582,232

$1,117,926

5

Apex Legends

264,951,181

7,446

£1,474,820

$1,042,034

6

Minecraft

237,134,892

6,664

£1,319,984

$932,635

7

Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare

213,617,584

6,003

£1,189,078

$840,143

8

Grand Theft Auto V

171,456,884

4,818

£954,395

$674,328

9

World of Warcraft

135,335,571

3,803

£753,330

$532,265

10

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

131,243,632

3,688

£730,552

$516,172

11

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege

111,246,416

3,126

£619,240

$437,524

12

Dead by Daylight

100,177,388

2,815

£557,626

$393,991

13

Rocket League

92,315,298

2,594

£513,862

$363,069

14

Escape from Tarkov

84,006,939

2,361

£467,615

$330,393

15

Overwatch

79,699,084

2,240

£443,636

$313,451

16

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War

9,630,051

2,238

£443,251

$313,179

17

Among Us

72,263,025

2,031

£402,244

$284,205

18

Destiny 2

69,764,933

1,961

£388,338

$274,381

19

PUBG

59,495,303

1,672

£331,174

$233,991

20

Dota 2

59,452,622

1,671

£330,936

$233,823

21

FIFA 21

56,898,517

1,599

£316,719

$223,778

22

Genshin Impact

49,221,846

1,383

£273,988

$193,586

23

Phasmophobia

44,203,171

1,242

£246,052

$173,848

24

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout

41,102,711

1,155

£228,793

$161,654

25

NBA 2K21

41,003,483

1,152

£228,241

$161,264

The total damage

Although these figures are only based on one platform, Twitch, and do not include the likes of YouTube and other platforms used for game streaming, the total amount of energy used and CO2 produced by streamers on the platform is shocking.

The Shocking Truth About Game Streaming

In order to negate the impact their users are having on the environment, Twitch would have to plant 50.2 MILLION trees a year, an amount which would fill 40.2k football pitches (or 287 km2).

Too hard to imagine?

The 25 biggest energy consuming games being streamed by gamers on Twitch, over the past 12 months

Well that electricity is enough to boil all the UK’s kettles four times a day (the UK average) for 17 YEARS! It is also enough energy to light the 20,000 bulbs on the Eiffel tower for over 40,000 YEARS or even watch every Friends series over 10 BILLION times.

Twitch users’ annual electricity consumption is the same as watching the whole of Breaking Bad 19 BILLION times

TV show

Episodes

Length of episode (mins)

Length of entire show (hours)

Total energy consumed (kWh)

Times watched with Twitch user energy

ER

331

48

265

19.3

3,334,714,161

The Simpsons

703

22

258

18.8

3,428,291,424

Lost

122

44

89

6.5

9,929,205,087

Friends

238

22

87

6.4

10,157,462,676

How I Met Your Mother

208

22

87

6.4

10,157,462,676

The Office

201

22

74

5.4

11,941,881,794

Game of Thrones

73

60

73

5.3

12,105,469,216

The Sopranos

86

50

72

5.3

12,273,600,733

Mad Men

92

44

67

4.9

13,189,541,086

Breaking Bad

62

44

45

3.3

19,637,761,173

As we can see those playing the games and creating the streams use a lot less energy than those viewing, so we suggest you get comfy on a gaming bean bag and play for yourself, rather than watching others do it!

Gaming Bean Bags

Methodology

We used data from Twitch Tracker and Sully Gnome to collect the most streamed and viewed games per week, month and year on Twitch.

We then worked out the average streaming and game play energy consumption across Xbox One, PS4, Xbox Series X, PS5, PC, Monitor and TVs to give average kWh. This figure was used to work out the energy consumption of the games by multiplying the kWh figure by hours viewed/streamed per week, month and year.

The CO2kg and CO2ekg emissions were calculated by using the average CO2kg and CO2ekg emissions per kwh and multiplying it by the kwh figure for each game, figures are based on averages and therefore approximate.