Video gaming has always been a competitive sport. Every arcade box used to have their own pixelated charts with the highest scores, and every kid wanted to be the one with the highest scores in their neighbourhood. With the internet explosion and the release of iconic first-person shooter games like Doom and Counter-Strike, players from all over the world started to come together. In 1997, one of the first esports organizations, the Cyberathlete Professional League, was founded. Since then, the gaming world has jumped into online gaming and streaming. Let’s take a closer look at the phenomenon.
The rise of online gaming and streaming
Over the past four decades, online gaming has become one of the world’s largest entertainment industries. According to reports from PricewaterhouseCoopers, the global online gaming industry was worth about $56 billion in 2010! This is larger than both the magazine and music industries and about two-thirds the size of the movie industry. According to the Entertainment Software Association’s 2011 report, the median age of a gamer in the United States is 37, with 42 percent of these gamers being female.
One of the biggest trends in live streaming today isn’t music (as you might have assumed before), but competitive gaming. eSports today attract thousands of viewers. There are several sites these days that specifically cater to gamers and their fans, streaming esports events. Several esports websites have exploded all over the internet as live webcasts take competitive video games to a whole new level, transforming them into a sport watched by millions, instead of one that was limited to insiders only.
Video game streaming: the big players
Among the major players in video game streaming today are Own3D.tv and TwitchTV. Own3D.tv started streaming video games online in 2010, and currently, the website attracts more than four million unique viewers per month for video game live streams. In March 2011, the Electronic Sports League (ESL), the world’s largest gaming league, broadcast the Intel Extreme Masters event, which is one of the most popular gaming tournaments of the year, via Own3D. With $400,000 in prize money, the gaming tournament attracted 75,000 simultaneous live viewers on the days of one event, while the total audience reached several million gamers. In June 2011, over 200,000 simultaneous viewers watched a Dreamhack match (which is based on League of Legends, another popular game) on Own3D, with approximately 250 GBps of traffic through the event.
and Justin. Live TV, the provider of live video streaming, witnessed that esports video streaming grew so fast that they dedicated an entire website to it. In June 2011, they launched TwitchTV after video game streaming reached approximately 3.2 million unique views per month on the main website. TwitchTV now attracts more than 12 million unique viewers every month. It has also grown at a steady rate of 11% per month since its inception.In addition, TwitchTV has more than 1,000 premium partners. It has also received more than 80,000 downloads of its iPhone mobile app in less than a month of the app’s launch. Between October 10 and 16, the website received a huge number of visitors, as can be seen from the following figures:
The total number of hours watched is 6,737,250.
4,214,057 unique viewers per week.
Total number of hours watched per unique viewer: 1.6
309.220 unique chatters per week.
The highest number of concurrent viewers on a single stream was 125,862.
The highest number of concurrent viewers across all game content was 165,250.
Video game streaming: popular genres
Here are some of the most popular genres in live online video game streaming:
Adventure (Assassin’s Creed II, Lego, Lost Planet)
Strategy (StarCraft II, Total War, Worms)
Sports games (FIFA, NBA 2K10, MLB 2K10),
Shooter (Modern Warfare 3, Bad Company 2, Left 4 Dead 2)
Role-playing (Mass Effect 2, Dragon Age)
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Simulation (The Sims)
Massive multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) (World of Warcraft, Hydra 9)
Streaming online games: the legal side
By now, you’ve probably heard of S.978, the new anti-streaming video law.At this point, it’s not illegal to stream a Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 walkthrough online, for example, as it’s considered a public performance. However, a bill like this would make such videos illegal. This bill may look great on the face of it as it will help curb piracy, but as parts of the bill are rather vague, it could lead to a number of problems for members of the media and gaming enthusiast communities.
However, it’s also possible that game developers and publishers decide not to sue streaming gamers, leaving things as they were. Given the sheer volume of such videos available on the internet, it would be naive to believe that game developers and publishers have the time and resources to pursue users every time they violate this so-called law. In addition to streaming video games online, a win-win scenario has emerged for all parties involved.
Game streaming: a win-win situation for everyone.
Websites such as Own3D.tv and TwitchTV see the majority of their traffic during gaming events. However, these websites also feature live video feeds of gamers playing popular video games at any given time. Some of these gamers are just amateurs who like to show off their gaming skills to other gamers, while some actually belong to professional gaming teams and prepare for the next tournament.
Moreover, today, gamers are making more and more money from competitions as streaming live video games gives them another way to earn money and earn a living. Live video game streaming websites like Own3D.tv and TwitchTV have revenue sharing deals with professional gaming partners. The most common forms of monetization are ads, subscriptions, and pay-per-view.
For example, TwitchTV has a revenue sharing plan where they sell ads on the gamer’s stream and the profit earned is split between them. TwitchTV also includes automatic transcoding, where viewers can switch between different quality settings based on their connection. In addition, partners will also get early access to the latest technology from Twitch and the opportunity to test new features.
The companies are also on the winning side. Zvetan Dragulev, Own3D.tv’s CEO, explained that they get 90 percent of their video views from pro gaming teams and events that yield higher CPM rates compared to traditional user-generated live video streams. In addition, advertisers also like the fact that they can target a well-defined audience. So everyone is happy! Well, no one is happier than gamers, I would think!