I’m going to level with you: I didn’t know that much about Twitch until fairly recently. It’s not that I’m a Luddite or anything, just that I’m not what you could call an early adopter, choosing instead to give some things a chance to prove themselves before I get on board. However, not only has twitch now proved itself, it’s done so with such gusto that it emerged this weekend that Google are seeking to purchase it for something in the region of $1 billion.
My own slow-wittedness notwithstanding, gamers have always been slightly ahead of the curve when it comes to technology, and we’ve all, for example, turned to a YouTube guide when struggling to get our hands on a particularly hard-to-find collectible, and there are thousands upon thousands of game related movies uploaded. Twitch took things a step further, by proving that games are such a great medium that not only do people love playing them, they love watching other people playing them.
And talking about it. A lot.
At the end of 2012, Twitch had a monthly audience of around 20 million, but by the end of 2013, this had more than doubled to 45 million, with around 6 million videos being uploaded or streamed every month, by 900 000 unique broadcasters. Last October, the League of Legends Season 3 World Championship event attracted 32 million viewers in just one day, and during Prime Time Hours in the US, twitch is now the 4th highest source of internet streaming traffic, behind only Netflix, Google and Apple. With figures like this, it was only a matter of time before one of The Big Guys started sniffing around, and in many ways, Google is the obvious choice given that they’ve previously struggled to break into the live streaming arena.
Quite what this will mean for Twitch, and the gaming community, largely remains to be seen. On the one hand, Google’s (very, very, very) deep pockets might be a boon for gamers, but on the other, Google’s search for legitimacy might end up distorting the purity and appeal of a platform that, almost by definition, exists outside of the mainstream. If, for example, Google get all Trademark Infringement Po-Po on our asses, like they did with YouTube, there’s a massive turn-off, right there. Likewise, if they’re going to instigate regional restrictions, like they also did with YouTube, it will only serve to carve up a strong, vibrant and international gaming community.
Anyway, whatever happens, or looks like it might happen, we at TwinStickGaming will be keeping an eye on it, so watch this space for more news, ramblings, or if necessary, rantings, as the story develops…….