Streaming has become a major part of the fighting game (and competitive gaming) community as of late. Just about everyone, from major tournaments, to guys at home hosting casual sessions streams these days. On the forefront of all this is TwitchTV, one of the first streaming sites dedicated solely to video games. TwitchTV founder Justin Kan has written an article on Gamasutra, talking about their beginnings (from JustinTV) to how streaming has become a part of gaming culture. More importantly, he talks about how streaming has helped grow competitive gaming, or eSports if you will.
The shift in the past 18 months in adoption for eSports is due to three factors: audience size, innovation in the viewing experience, and distribution. The audience is 170 million gamers strong in the US, playing more than 13 hours of video games a month. The innovations have been the spectator modes and ladder matching systems that companies like Blizzard or Riot Games have built into their games, making it easy for non-player viewers to follow the action. In the latest version of StarCraft, there are built in displays for production, army size and more, making viewing much more accessible to the casual fan, especially when combined with some basic commentating from a caster. The distribution is happening across sites like TwitchTV and YouTube, where a new generation of gamers is living.
Alongside this, he talks about how gamers want to watch videos of games, specifically those of other plays, playing games at high levels.
Live video is the newest trend in how gamers engage around their favorite titles. We currently see an average session time of 47 minutes on TwitchTV; that means that every time a viewer shows up on the site, they stay and watch 47 minutes of video. This is time that gamers are cutting out of traditional media sources of entertainment: movies, television and internet browsing and — obviously — time that’s no longer being spent engaging with traditional games media.
In a nut shell: Your audience isn’t reading magazines or web sites any more – they’re watching videos!
But not just any videos.
Above all else, today’s gamers want to watch videos which either show experts at play or capture experts sharing their knowledge about games. These experts are, almost without exception, grass roots players and not traditional games media pundits
He also takes time to announce the “TwitchTV Developer Program” which will provide SDKs to developers which will allow them to stream directly from in game.
You can read the entire article over at Gamasutra.