When it comes to video game streaming in India, we normally think/talk YouTube. Twitch is a faraway second, and Facebook Gaming is just finding its feet in the water even internationally. However, Facebook Gaming is the place where Robin Gupta AKA “SteveZDad” made his name. We got a chance to catch up with him earlier this week to discuss how he got into gaming, how did Facebook Gaming become his primary platform and how he manages life with streaming. Excerpts.
IndianNoob: Tell our audience a bit about yourself and what is that you do?
SteveZDad: Hello everyone, my name is Robin Gupta and I go by the gaming alias “SteveZDad”. I’m from a small town called Patiala situated in the upstate of Punjab in North India. I have the honor of being India’s Partnered Gaming Content Creator with Facebook Gaming. Currently, I am being followed by over 260k people at my Facebook Page called Facebook.com/SteveZDad or Fb.gg/SteveZDad who visit my live streams and engage with me on off-stream on Instagram, etc.
I am 38 years old, father of an amazing son and husband to an amazing wife. Besides Content creation which is my primary occupation, I also own a couple of businesses.
IN: When did you first start streaming? Tell us a bit about your early days.
SD: For the record, I began my live-streaming career on August 1, 2018. Early days were as interesting as the current ones. The thing that built over time was experience and knowledge.
I remember starting out with a very basic single PC setup for streaming. Basic audio and very basic camera gear. I was highly dependent on basic overlays and stock alerts that popped up for basically everyone. In my early days, I started playing and live-streaming games like Battlefield 4 and DOTA2. Soon I moved to an Indian mainstream game called PubG Mobile. The growth has been amazing since. Back in the days, since I was learning the game at that time it was tough to present a “Display of performance”. So I actively spent my time looking for teammates and co streamers. Six months down the line I was offered a Partnership by Facebook Gaming and everything has been different since.
IN: What was your honest reaction when you came to know that you are one of the first streamers in India to get in the Level up Program from Facebook?
SD: I followed the pathway of Facebook gaming closely. From the very first announcement that Facebook made about launching into the world to gaming to the first announcement of the Level Up program. Unfortunately, the release of the Level up program did not cover a lot of regions. India was not covered at the time of launch. It wasn’t until November 2018 when India was finally declared to be covered in the Level up Program.
There were a few very simple and achievable targets to get into the Level up Program. I made sure that by the time the program is released in India, my Facebook page stats lived up to the requirements. I was lucky enough to bag the title as the first person to have achieved the participation in the Level up program in India. This program let the enabling of monetization of my live-streams through Stars (a Facebook’s way of financial streamer appreciation).
But the icing on the cake happened when I was recognized by Facebook Gaming and offered an exclusive Partnership Program in the month of February 2019. I became India’s First Facebook Gaming Partnered Gaming Content Creator. OMG!! Feels so good to say this title. I remember the day when I received communication about the offer. At first, I did not believe it to be happening. It took me two days to verify whether the offer was real. I took a patient course towards it and discussed the offer with my family that included my Son, my wife, and my Mother. After careful thought, I accepted the program and hence the amazing journey began. The 1st of February is also the day when I celebrate the occasion of the marriage anniversary of my parents. So this date holds double significance for me.
IN: I guess you stream full time now, if not, how do you manage work and streaming?
SD: As I said before, I am also a businessman. I run a couple of businesses in my name. My nature of operations has always been business automation. It means that I bring up my business to such a state where they become self-sufficient and run on their own with minimum supervision and administration. Therefore, it gives me time at hand which I can invest in my passions that define who I am, a content creator. My average duration of live streams is between five to six hours a session. I spend about one hour looking after my other businesses and I give one to two hours to exercise and workout. This is my general routine except for a Sunday which is my total family time.
There are some variations and based on force majeure I sometimes adapt. But more or less that’s how I manage my time on a daily basis. Apart from that, I give one week in a month to travel where I visit various cities or countries for business/gaming expansions and opportunities.
What do you say, it does get hectic but for most of the time it is enjoyable.
IN: Do you think facebook streaming in India will become a viable career option?
SD: According to me Gaming Live streaming is emerging as a new career option in this world as we know it. With the recent boom in internet accessibility in the country, the potential viewers have increased massively. It is important to note that Facebook by nature was not a gaming platform but a social media entity. This fact alone gives Facebook Gaming leverage as the platform already enjoys a massive database of users. This is one of the main reasons why Facebook Gaming is coming up as a powerful and popular platform because it is giving amazing reach and viewership count even to the Live streamers who are just starting out. With easy accessibility to the Level Up program, mostly everyone gets access to monetization. However, Facebook Gaming is very strict with Community Policy guidelines and takes strict steps to enforce them. Given these circumstances live streaming to Facebook and gaining a good/decent audience I’d fairly easy as compared to the other platforms.
But then it also depends on the content creator on his ability to entertain the audience because as opposed to popular belief, live streaming is simply NOT “Playing Games while reading Chat”. It requires much more effort than that and like any work/job comes with initial investment of time, money and training.
Along with that, there are several horizontal growth models that come with being a successful content creator for example brand sponsorships and endorsements. One must not forget that live-streaming business models come with a variable of “Tips and donations” that, depending on the region and community, can play an important role in sustaining live-streams as a livelihood.
IN: What skills or specialties in your opinion one needs to have for becoming a gold streamer and how did you develop them?
SD: As I said before, in contrast to the popular belief that live streaming is just “Play games while reading chat”, it holds much more value to itself.
In my humble opinion, people love to watch two types of creators:
- One who is extremely skilled in gaming and people look up to him or her for knowledge and follow them religiously.
- One who is an Entertainer, who connects with people on an emotional level, makes them smile or cry or experience joy by bonding with them over time.
Everything revolves around the two points mentioned above. It is our duty to identify into one of the two above points and work towards it. There is a community for everyone but it is very important to identify where one belongs. In my opinion, both of the above-mentioned points can be developed. You can practice becoming a skilled player or you can practice becoming an entertainer. But both of them requires time and patience.
IN: Why is it that you chose Facebook as a streaming platform rather than giants like youtube or twitch?
SD: Starting a career was as a business investment to me. Being a businessman already I know how to analyze the Pros and Cons of an investment. I chose to invest in Facebook Gaming because I saw an opportunity for a “First Mover Advantage”. Facebook Gaming was new at the time and the number of creators was less. I also figured out the potential growth this platform can offer. Therefore I chose to pick an arena where the competition was less and the scope for growth was more. It was actually an easy choice for me and I am really glad that I made it.
Sure YouTube Gaming and Twitch would have given me an amazing platform but that came along with a large competition pool as well. As a smaller fish and limited resources, I played my cards carefully. Of course, I had the guidance of my close friends and family.
IN: What do you think about Facebook in general as a streaming platform?
SD: Facebook Gaming is a relatively newer platform. As a power user, I can tell that the technology is developing and improving over time. Unlike its counterparts Facebook Gaming has its ingest servers in India itself that allow for super-smooth viewer experience. I myself follow many popular and startup content creators. So I experience the platform both as a Creator and well as a follower. As a follower, since Facebook Gaming is an integral part of Facebook itself the usage mostly happens over smartphones/devices or desktops. There are tonnes of features like picture in picture feature where I can continue to watch a live stream and browse my Facebook feed.
I take great pride and joy in supporting my favorite content creators by giving them Stars or supporting them financially on a monthly basis. I also engage with my fellow viewers and bond with my favorite creators. Like I said earlier, since Facebook Gaming as a platform is in active development there is the ever-growing introduction of amazing new features to the ecosystem.
IN: Tell us about some of your favorite single-player and online multiplayer games.
SD: I’m a huge Star Wars fan and my recent favorite is the Star Wars Jedi: Fallen order I also like the storytelling games like The Walking Dead, Batman from Telltale Series, and the Tales From Borderland series. But if I am, to be honest, I don’t play single player games anymore. I rather enjoy watching walkthroughs of the latest single-player games played by my favorite Walkthrough content creators.
Multiplayer though is a whole different story. I simply love PubG Mobile. It is an amazing game and every match played with friends is a different chapter of a storybook. Other than that I am recently playing games like Call of Duty Modern Warfare, Grand Theft Auto V and I have just bought Rainbow Six siege. I have my eyes on Escape from Tarkov as well but I am yet to buy it.
IN: Audience expectation vs personal taste. How do you manage it?
I go by the saying, “It won’t sell if you take sugarcanes to a fish market”.
SD: I go by the trends in the market. Since I have not grown large enough to start a trend on my own and until that happens, I follow what goes on in the market and play the games that are in general demand and I build my taste to it. For example, I have learned to play PubG Mobile even though I did not initially understand the game. But I spent a lot of hours into to game to learn it. Same goes with other trending games like GTA V or COD: MW
However, I completely put a stop to the games that I simply don’t like or can’t handle, for example, Fortnite, which requires complex building skills that I simply lack, even though it is one of the most trending games on the market.
IN: If you could add two features to Facebook from a streamer’s point of view, what will they be?
SD: As of now, I would like to see the following two features to be added to the Facebook Gaming Platform:
- Integration of Local payment gateways and wallet support like PayTm etc to enable viewers to purchase/donate Stars or become monthly subscribers
- Ability to download past live streams in at least 1080p Full HD resolution.
IN: Any special plans for the future?
SD: My immediate goal is to hit 300k follower mark in the next few months. Apart from that, I wish to be actively participating in gaming events across the country and engage with my community to build a more realistic bond. My next goal for 2020 is to get in better health and work on my body to be in better shape and size. I am also actively working on my Instagram page and I wish it also sees good growth in terms of engagements.
IN: As cliched as this question must be, what advice can you give to all the young up and coming streamers of India?
SD: My advice to all those who wish to experience this wonderful world is that:
- Always treat streaming as a job and consider it as honest work. Maintain standards and build and achieve goals.
- Always aim to improve. Never settle down. Always think and work towards becoming better. There is no end to it.
- Do not give up your studies for this business. Education is as important as streaming. Complete your studies first if possible and then go full time live streaming.
- Behave well on live streams. Do not curse or be disrespectful. Treat your audience well and they will most certainly take care of you.
You can get in touch with SteveZDad using the links below. Also, feel free to drop comments below and tell us and him what you think.
Email: [email protected]