BLOG - the rise of video game streaming

It is a brilliant idea, watching live streams of video games. I know that the idea was in my mind somewhere. When I hang out with friends, I prefer watching them play video games than playing myself.

I’m not sure if it would be the same if we were at the peak of Nintendo, but now I certainly can. Video games are beautifully orchestrated. Many tell a story not much different than a TV show or a movie. Some even look better graphically than movies. Character development is deep and the user is brought into an immersive experience.

Twitch is a live streaming video platform. 100 million users watch live streams of games such as League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, Counter-Strike, etc. You can even watch retro games. For instance, there are some stellar channels of Mega Man (Super Nintendo) speed runs.

I prefer to watch the Hearthstone streams. Hearthstone is a strategic card game based on characters from World of Warcraft. I’m a poker player, so naturally I gravitate towards this type of card game. I like to watch some of the professional Hearthstone players like Amaz, Trump, or Kripp. They range from 15,000 – 25,000 viewers at any given time. I’ve even seen Trump streaming for 50,000 viewers when he reached rank #1 on the North American Hearthstone server. I learned to play Hearthstone really well by watching the pros stream. I would argue that it was quicker to learn that way than playing for hours on end – even though I do play hours on end. And, yes, you can even watch pros streaming online poker.

With cable television offering shaky programming, I can see a huge shift of viewership to Twitch coming in the future. There always seems to be nothing on traditional television these days, but I know there is always someone streaming video games on Twitch. I use to fall asleep watching TV, but now I’m passing out while watching Twitch on my iPad.

And what about eSports? What IS eSports, you say? eSports is simply organized multiplayer video game competitions. There are cash prizes for the winning teams that they disburse amongst the team members. I watched a Counter-Strike tournament the other day that had over 1 million viewers on Twitch. That’s incredible! Even ESPN understands this impact and had the foresight to broadcast a tournament of Heroes of the Storm. I believe we will see ESPN broadcast more in the future.

The other interesting aspect of Twitch is a viewer can watch a stream of a new game to decide whether or not it is worth it to buy a game. That’s why gaming companies give early beta access to popular streamers to play and give their opinion, hoping to reach a large audience to pre purchase the game.

I think the general public might be hearing some background noise on this movement of broadcasting video games, but they have no idea what the impact is going to be. This is going to be something huge that we’ll find on our television screens. Many of the large eSports tournaments will migrate from being only on Twitch to ESPN and other major networks. And if eSports is not your thing, but you still enjoy video games, you can watch any number of other games from another genre on Twitch. It’s just as easy to surf Twitch for a different streamer as it is to surf the TV and avoid those annoying commercials.

Here are some streamers I like to watch…some are super popular…others are not, but should be:

Amaz TrumpSC NLKripp TidesofTime Strifecro Hero Firebat Lirik GoldGloveTV LanceNyeTheGamerGuy Calebhart42 KingGothalion JCarverPoker

You can show your support for streamers by subscribing to their channel or making a money donation to them. It allows them to continue to broadcast and keep their stream going. You’re paying directly to the individual streaming the content that you like to watch. It seems like a sound business model to me.

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