Twitch TV has been spreading the word about e-sports, predicting that the trend — broadcasting video gamers as they play — is one that’s ripe for takeoff.
The idea is getting a big boost this week with the announcement that Sony Online Entertainment will bake the ability to broadcast gameplay over the Internet into its Planetside 2, a massively multiplayer online first-person shooter.
For Twitch, it’s the first step toward taking the trend mainstream.
“Our ambitions here are not small,” said Matthew DiPietro, Twitch's VP of Marketing. “We really envision a future in which playing a game becomes the same thing as broadcasting a game.”
According to Twitch, it sees 23 million unique views per month and individual viewers watch an average of one and half hours of gameplay per day. The most popular games to watch are still the titles that set off the e-sports trend such as the space strategy game Starcraft. But fighting games, first-person shooters, and even more casual games are growing communities of their own.
Matt Higby, the creative director for Planetside 2 said that he thinks of video broadcasting as the next generation of blogging, and is particularly appealing to games with strong and varied communities.
“To me, any time that can get players to express their differences is a win,” he said. Planetside — known for its sweeping scale that often includes thousands of players in a single battle— is already a pretty fun game to watch, he said.
It seemed like a good fit for SOE to offer gamers a way to showcase their stuff without pulling resources away from their game performance by using a third-party broadcasting tool.
DiPietro said that it was a great opportunity to work with a developer from the very beginning of a game so that the community has access to streaming right away — something that Twitch hopes to do with future games as well.
The idea is certainly a great marketing tool in the age of YouTube and other video services that broadcast snippets of individual experiences to audiences around the world.
“For any given game, some portion [of viewers] are already playing the game, but there is a massive portion of those people who have never seen the game before,” he said. “It’s a very effective discovery mechanism to expose the gameplay, and becomes really, really effective for the publisher. And it grows the community.”
The Planetside 2 beta starts this weekend, and participants will see the one-click Twitch button right away, though it may not be fully functioning quite yet. The streaming option will, however, be fully operational by the time game launches on November 20,” DiPietro said.