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Twitch could be a $20B company within Amazon (backchannel.com)
223 points by steven on Aug 26, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 169 comments

Amazon bought two things with Twitch: 1) A social community 2) a monetization model. The video service itself is secondary.

The past several years has shown the social communities grow organically. But its hard to make users adopt one. If you build it, they probably won't come. It's easier for a big company to buy one up than start one from scratch. (Think Instagram versus Google Plus).

Second, Twitch is one of the few monetization models on the internet that is not pure ad based. Twitch does have ads, but streamers see more money through direct donations and monthly subscriptions. Also I am willing to bet the rate of ad blockers on Twitch is higher than the average site. Twitch has shied away from dark patterns that lock out adblocking users. I don't see any big modals or disabled video if I run an adblocker on Twitch. This is no doubt on purpose. So Twitch has locked on an monetization model of direct payment for digital content, which is rare on the internet. And best of all, it's completely optional.

A video streaming service alone is nothing revolutionary. There are many Twitch clones that haven't reach near the same popularity. Its the community, and how its funded.

Two additional aspects:

1) Twitch can leverage the core support network that amazon can build

Starting from aws - to prime video subscriptions

2) amazon will go strong into tv top as soon as apple and google take it more serious. at that point the got one of the bigger kinds of content under control - similar w/ google and youtube

What makes you think appletv will ever support Amazon video?

The iOS app definitely needs chrome cast support.

Given that, e.g. amazon stopped selling Chromecast, I don't have high hopes for interoperability here.

Why do this to your customers. It means Amazon video money is wasted unless I own a fire stick--and who the hell owns a fire stick? The only reason to buy it is Amazon video!

No, it is possible to get amazon video over chromecast. It's a bit hacky, but it works.

Recent move towards subscriptions and Apple's sign to give up on some revenue. What is it now, 15% after the first year? Could't that be viable for something like Prime video?

i didnt mean that

i think for now every of the big players will create their own apps/boxes - i imagine "prime TV"

at some point the fragmentation will annoy customers so much that they will find ways to combine - but that's in 5-10 years

Might never happen.

Chromecast is so cheap that its probably putting downwards price pressure on the devices themselves. And I don't personally have any issue flicking between all of my various "set top" boxes: chromecast, WD Live, Apple TV, old school dvd player, Tivo. After all, what issues does this fragmentation cause, apart from a bit of a mess of HDMI cables, and a shortage of HDMI ports on the TV?

It's just a different type of DRM lockin. It's absurd the store from which we buy content can dictate how and where we consume it.

> The active engagement of Twitch viewers can often help boost sales for games that prove popular among live streams.

Can users purchase games (from Amazon) directly through Twitch? Amazon could offer streamers a referral cut, too.

That seems like posing a real challenge for Amazon, simply because the entire PC game market belongs within reasonable margin of error to Valve, via Steam. I don't know as much on the console side, but the impression I have is that that's moving more toward digital delivery as well, via the various console manufacturers' storefronts. Not sure how Amazon would be able to find a meaningful entry into that particular market.

I feel like selling the games directly on a twitch stream page would be a little too boorish. It would make every streamer immediately look like a paid advertiser.

I think a smarter strategy would be to let the streamers advertise peripheral items (wanna order the beer I'm drinking?) and to encourage the viewers to buy things for the streamers to feature in their show (especially the crafty streams.)

>Twitch has shied away from dark patterns that lock out adblocking users. I don't see any big modals or disabled video if I run an adblocker on Twitch. This is no doubt on purpose.

I vividly remember this not being the case, whereas (at least in partnered streams) if twitch detected an ad-blocker it would stop the stream and then fill your screen with recommendations to subscribe to the streamer.

What ended up happening if I recall correctly was the adblockers would just block the anti-adblock screens so they were rendered ineffective.

I'm pretty sure there was other efforts, but I found this on their blog [1]

[1] https://blog.twitch.tv/experiment-with-advertising-on-partne...

I watch an average of 8 hours of twitch daily while working from home. I use adblockers without issues on their site. The only thing that I had to mess with was uMatrix, but that happens everywhere, especially with so many CDNs etc loading content.

If this thesis holds true:

   > The past several years has shown the social 
   > communities grow organically. But its hard to
   > make users adopt one. If you build it, they probably
   > won't come. It's easier for a big company to buy one
   > up than start one from scratch. (Think Instagram
   > versus Google Plus).
Then the best use of someone's time might be to start as many social networks as possible on the possibility that one of them develops enough community to go "big." At which point you sell it to the highest bidder. Sort of "community farming" on a meta level.

If all else equal, I'd imagine that's true. However, starting multiple things while keeping high product quality might not be that simple, despite popular belief that social networks are "easy".

My rule of thumb is that if you can get 100M monthly users you can sell your company for $1B. It doesn't matter what your product or platform or service is. It doesn't even matter if you have any revenue. If you can get a hundred million monthly users then you can sell for 1 billion dollars.

At least that's what I've observed over the past few years. Twitch was bought $1B with a mere 50M users. But highly engaged users with successful monetization. So it fits my model. WhatsApp was bought for almost $20B under the assumption they could hit 1B users. A 2x premium for being so large.

So roughly $5 to $20 per user. That seems pretty reasonable.

Unless I see evidence to the contrary, I assume that all startups follow your model - i.e. they don't give a damn about the product they're making[0]; they need something that'll give them a good growth curve in order to get bought for $alot[1].

I wonder if and when people get tired of that. I also wonder how user engagement/retention numbers evolve globally over time; if almost everyone treats their users like cattle, I won't be surprised if more and more people started treating on-line services as throwaway.

[0] - corollary: all the "we're trying to change the world", or "our passion is to help you do X" they say on their page is just lies.

[1] - that also applies to paid services; I've read that classic Maciej's post[2] about paid vs. free services, but companies aren't stupid; if being paid signals trustworthiness and leads to more users, they'll make the service paid

[2] - https://blog.pinboard.in/2011/12/don_t_be_a_free_user/

Reminds me of irl communities where artists and entrepreneurs start local, homegrown businesses (think portland hipster) and then giant corps come in, tear down the old housing, throw up 5-story Ikea condos on every block (along with the white-bread cafes and clog shops) and ride the "trendy neighborhood" wave for a decade or two until the money leaves for another cool neighborhood

They bought, in one form or another, the very phenomenon of video game addiction. I'd love to see their user activity numbers because I really believe a large portion of the twitch demographic spends Facebook-esque # of hours on the site per day. And here's the thing, people love Twitch. Their seen as a champion of gamers that allowed streamers to stream, giving monetization strategies as a gift.

Maybe the most useful interview I've ever done on Mixergy is with Twitch's cofounder about how he founded the company.

Do yourself a favor and get the transcript. He's super-methodical.


Thanks! That interview is a textbook example of an entrepreneur applying the approach documented in Four Steps to the Epiphany by Steven Blank (and taught, I believe, at Stanford).

If you haven't read Blank's book and you liked the approach in the interview, do yourself a favor and read the book. :)

this is amazing. thanks for sharing... His talk on user testing at Stanford is also amazing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAws7eXItMk

That's awesome. You should consider posting it as a .epub or .mobi file!

With Google doc you can do "File -> Download as -> epub / pdf" and other formats.

26 page transcript...how long did this take?

One hour.

Think of it as a mini-book.

I shared the Google Doc so you can save it to your Gogle Drive and read it when you have time for something longer than a blog post.

By the way, for anyone who's curious. The original link has 4 upvotes and the Doc has 52 people reading it now.

I think the other commenter meant "how long to transcribe it?", if you did it manually.

(Thanks for the transcription!)

Is there an audiobook version? ;-)

What about the audio version? Can you link to the podcast?


If you're interested in the backstory of Justin.tv (which became Twitch), StartUp has a two part podcast on it:



Just wanted to say thanks for these links. One because the story was/is awesome, and two, I had no idea about StartUp Podcast.

It was funny when one of the co-founders said something along the lines of "who the hell wants to watch other people play video games on the internet," little did he know... I beat my head on my desk some days thinking "why didn't I think of that!!!!" and then I beat my head on my desk again thinking, "what other ridiculous sounding simple idea is lurking out there yet uncovered." If anyone stumbles across that very thing and needs help brining it to fruition, pm me :D

glad someone added this. the pod is pretty amazing to see to the persistence and struggle justin and co. went through. last five minutes of the second episode were best part

This whole industry of game streaming is operating in a gray zone.

It's a matter of time before we see some big lawsuits against the streamer and streaming platforms which make a lot of money by publishing the whole content, without any royalties to game developers /publishers.

For certain games. it doesn't spoil or ruin the fun factor for viewers, but some others it just removed the incentives to buy a copy of the game in the first place.

If that does happen it will be unprecedented. Activision and Bungie, which own Destiny, frequently works with streamers to premiere new content and hold events and they are not alone. They seem to know that streamers are good for business.

nintendo? not exactly unprecedented.

Nintendo has an antiquated grasp of business though and will go under even sooner if they continue with this type of behaviour. They are currently fueled on goodwill and nostalgia value. A complete outlier in that aspect.

Maybe, but that still means it's not unprecedented

Twitch already actively complies with publishers on this, and does things like blocking games before the street release date.

If the publisher doesn't want their game on twitch it isn't there: but the reverse tends to happen (publishers pay people to stream their game, and for their game to be featured on the twitch sidebar).

Why do you think content owners would see this as IP theft rather than free advertising? Are people watching play throughs rather than playing it themselves?

It heavily depends on the game. There are lots of single-player games where the story is much better than the actual game mechanics. Or where watching somebody figure out all the puzzles is more fun than doing it yourself. Here, streamers and let's-players likely cause a decrease in game sales. In simulation and competitive games on the other hand streamers should usually cause more sales then they prevent.

As one less recent example, watching Half Life 2 with funny commentary is great, but I have no desire to ever play the game myself.

Relevant article on a game developer that did not approve of streaming their game: http://www.thatdragoncancer.com/thatdragoncancer/2016/3/24/o...

Well that just means that developers will start focusing less on story and more on mechanics. In a way, streaming will change what developers focus on when making their games in order to adapt.

Even if publishers decided to take a hard line on this I don't think it is too big a deal for Twitch. The majority of their viewership is in esports events and the games that are played as esports.

Depends on the game. Many games are only remarkable for their combination of story and aesthetics, with the minute-to-minute play being fairly mundane. In that case I can see a bunch of people just watching a stream and not bothering to play the game themselves.

How many of them would have been so pushed as to play the game for themselves anyway... an open question.

Games like "The Last of Us" and "Uncharted 4" definitely seem more like audience-participation movies. The fight scenes might be fun to play through, but a lot of the good stuff comes from the scenery, the story, and the acting - both voice and capture.

I watched Let's Plays of both because I wanted to see the story, and because the players were entertaining. I don't think I'd have enough time or patience to play through either game, but I definitely got value out of the game itself without having played it.

It does seem like a gray zone - I experienced content without paying for it, but I didn't experience it the way it was truly meant to be. Did I come by it unfairly?

At least some are. I myself watched a playthrough of "Last of Us" and greatly enjoyed it. But because the game is so linear and story-driven, and the gameplay itself doesn't look particularly remarkable, I'll likely never pick up the game, even though considerable resources were obviously expended for voice acting and writing and direction.

That's going to be interesting litigation. There's a legal analysis under UK law here.[1] It's not too helpful. WIPO suggests that legislation may be desirable to give game developers control over videos of games.[2] Their country-by-country analysis is all over the place.

It's a tough call. Arguably, the player is the performance, against the game as a backdrop. That could be argued as a transformative use. If you make a video of someone playing golf on a Robert Trent Jones golf course, Robert Trent Jones (or his estate) doesn't get royalties. If you make videos of people playing sports with sports gear with prominent logos, that doesn't mean the sports gear company has a copyright interest. You don't have to pay royalties to car companies when their cars appear in a video.

Cut scenes may be an issue, since the player isn't controlling them.

[1] http://www.develop-online.net/analysis/uploading-gameplay-co... [2] http://www.wipo.int/export/sites/www/copyright/en/creative_i...

> Arguably, the player is the performance, against the game as a backdrop. That could be argued as a transformative use.

I'd say that's absolutely the case for a lot of the most popular streamers and Lets Players. Jacksepticeye is an easy example: the distinctive parts of his videos aren't the games, they're his exaggerated reactions to whatever's going on in them. You could replace the actual game video and sound with a black screen, leaving just his voice, and people would still tune in to giggle at his silly behavior.

Are there any good streamers who play games without unnecessary commentary? There's nothing that annoys me more than someone ruining the mood by starting to talk shit in a middle of an important plot point or emotional scene.

Game developers are fine with streaming/youtube. They see it as advertising. These days it's common for streamers and youtubers to be sponsored by major developers. Nintendo is the only company that tried to stop it and they backed off after a major backlash.

The most popular games on Twitch are not story driven though.

My comment wasn't only targeting Twitch, nor only live streaming.

Just take for example all those YouTube channels where you can access a replay of a whole game on demand.

I just did a couple of weeks ago with the latest Resident Evil HD remaster because I was fond of this game I played back in 1996.

I thought about buying a copy. I wanted to revisit it. Well not anymore. I just skipped through the important cinematics and storyline for some hours, up to the game ending.

For me its the opposite. I watch the start of a playthough and if I find it interesting, then I get the game, when otherwise I would not have given it a try.

I think that game companies are more thrilled about free advertising to people like me then they are worried about people like you... at least for now. If that balance shifts, things might get ugly.

It's not an all or nothing situation, far from it.

Platforms like Twitch definitely help to hype new games and make good free advertising. Most companies should leverage this. For someone who works in the video game industry, I do see the value in that.

On the other hand, it can be harmful for certain types of games (linear/story driven, like pointed out).

Not only that, but I think the way the revenues from those streams are shared is very unfair.

Think about it; this market is growing and the pie is getting bigger. Yet, right now the money is split only between the platform service and the streamer, either by advertising or donations, but without anything to the IP owner.

Movie and music organisations like MPAA and RIAA have taken very agressive stance against digital copyright infringement since the millenium.

Video game industry has been more forgivable so far, but doesn't mean it won't take a stand eventually.

That would make sense, because for a game to be popular it would have to have a consistent viewership; something you wouldn't have with a single playthrough story based game. I think that story based games are very popular in the short term when they come out, but then die off (because most streamers have played them before their audiences). I think OP's point is valid.

I think you probably did not watch gaming videos a lot. So far the streaming are vides are an integral part of the gaming industry.

I read an interview with an indie studio talking about streamers, and in the end they appreciated their presence but resented when the streamers revealed too much of the entire game or did not add enough of their own content. (I think it was the Stanley Parable?)

Well, stanley parable is basically reading a book. Sure you move through the level, but once you see it, you've basically seen it. I personally have bought multiple games because I see streamers playing them (Dead by Daylight is my most recent).

Then perhaps it will become necessary to design games for replayability, rather than on-rails linear stories. Games != movies. I don't see that as a bad development.

For some that would be a sad development. Certain able gamers depend upon a sliding scale of difficulty, and at the lower end it could be a slightly interactive movie like experience. Casual players too may prefer a simpler and story focused experience. Requiring a lot of branching and variation may limit story depth.

That's no different where Twitch streamers upload their entire play through a chunk at a time onto Youtube.

Correct, and Nintendo already puts the lockdown on that hardcore.

Since when? I've never had a problem finding Mario play throughs.

EDIT: Just did a sanity check search, Mario Kart 8 playthrough, been up for 2 years, a million and a half views: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BR0l84gjEXg

Since quite a while, Nintendo either takes down videos or claims ad revenue for the videos via the Youtube DMCA.

Last year Nintendo made a program[1] where Youtubers could sign up to be Nintendo partners, and in return they could keep somewhere around ~70% of the video ad revenue, but they also had some weird clauses.

Most people who do Nintendo game content do so while knowing that they are not going to be able to make ad revenue off of it. That is very well and fine for people who do it as a hobby, but some others do Youtube content for a living, and it's nonviable for them.

I don't have a particularly strong opinion on the subject, just wanted to let you know that it _is_ a thing.

[1] https://r.ncp.nintendo.net/guide/

Funny enough, I'm watching a Starcraft II channel on Twitch just now, while reading HN. I don't play any games, not even the smallest, but I watch - although only caster streams, not player streams. Tastosis FTW :)

I have a cable subscription as part of my apartment package - but I don't use it. I don't even have a TV. Internet and streaming only. I find that if I had TV I'd be much more passive and watch too much, now I watch SC2 but not as much as if I had TV. I spend a lot more time with edX and Coursera and watch lecture videos instead. If I had a TV it would be much harder to turn it off than a game stream. I like the smaller communities, watching a TV production I am much more of a passive anonymous consumer than even a (very big) 50,000 viewer stream on Twitch, and even though Twitch chat is notorious, at least it exists. And a lot of streamers and casters react to what is going on in chat at least sometimes, in traditional media I am much farther removed from the makers.

Of various streaming services I tried watching Twitch in the end provided the consistently best experience, these days up to 1080p60. That alone is not sufficient to know how much data is flowing though, the data rate can be very different even for streams with the same resolution and frame rate, so with the same advertised resolution one channel can be much more crisp than another one, but some people may experience occasional buffering issues.

I just checked, currently there are about 650,000 viewers total on Twitch, rough estimate just to get an idea of order of magnitude. More stats: https://www.quantcast.com/twitch.tv#trafficCard

You can change the period on the right, the earliest to set "From" to is 23 March, 2012, to get a view of how Twitch's viewers develop(ed) over time. When I look at the last 365 days it looks pretty flat. I'm not sure about the data though, for some reason the "Rest of the world" (other than USA) is pretty much gone from one day to the next beginning of 2016. Does anyone have an explanation? I doubt that the "rest of the world" stopped watching Twitch overnight.

Looking at https://stats.twitchapps.com/ it's the same result though - no real growth any more for at least the last 12 months. Unless that's based on the same data, I don't know.

I don't play computer games either, or watch Twitch streams, but I have watched quite a few "Let's Play" walkthroughs on YouTube (mostly old adventure games). You get to experience the game's story and puzzles without the frustration. ;)

With all that growth opportunity, you'd think they could invest a little more in the engineering side. I mean, I like Twitch, but their platform is still a mess. Chat delay can be a minute or more, and the VOD situation still sucks (60 days? Seriously?). I mean, they're owned by the people who run AWS for crying out loud. They should be able to knock this out of the park.

I thought YouTube Gaming was going to muscle in to this space quickly just by virtue of technical superiority. It looks like that hasn't happened yet, but Twitch can't afford to get complacent.

They've been around for almost 5 years and can't make a decent voting system it always ends up in a chat spam, why do this through chat if you can make some button for user to press, optionally with a word to type or captcha but they chose the chat spam.

Youtube's interface (both broadcasting and viewing) is terrible compared to Twitch for the kind of programming people watch on it, and the "community" on Youtube is infinitely worse in every way possible to boot.

That's not entirely true. On Youtube, you can instantly rewind the video like you do on a video where as on Twitch, you have to go to the videos section, wait for that section to be uploaded before rewinding. There's also 60 fps on Youtube which beats Twitch's 30 fps.

twitch can do 60+ fps, lots of people on twitch stream 720p60fps, it's arguably the best balance between quality and bandwidth cost

the only limiting factor is the bitrate limit of 3500 https://help.twitch.tv/customer/portal/articles/1253460-broa...

Yeah... try it at the LCS.

Twitch's tech blows in every aspect imaginable. Shitty site, shitty flash, shitty mobile experience, shitty stream. It's a pity they have such a stronghold on streamers+viewers.

They are currently beta testing the js player.


Pretty sure you can stream 60fps on twitch.

Fully acknowledging that some of the things they have issues with, my startup also has issues with, BUT:

My startup is under 2 years old, in the same space, and with a much smaller team. We have solved almost all of the technical problems twitch faces, and even released many other features that Twitch is only now also working on.

We have regularly looked at this market and what keeps fueling twitch's success, and strictly speaking people go where the content is. It has NOTHING to do with the user experience of the product, nothing to do with the quality of the tech. If there are 500 people streaming the game you want to watch on twitch and 10 on another platform, the viewers stay on twitch.

Anyway, it is an interesting problem, and one that all competitors in this space are facing. And has clearly not pushed twitch out in any way.

Finally the self promotion if anyone is interested in our product: https://www.stream.me

>>> It has NOTHING to do with the user experience of the product, nothing to do with the quality of the tech.

Good UX is a bonus, can be useful for growth, competing with other products once the content is on a similar level, etc. However, yes, the content is the key, yes. People come for the content, not for some extra feature (and extra features often affect only a small percentage of the users).

> We have solved almost all of the technical problems twitch faces

A lot of those problems are a lot easier to solve with a smaller audience.

My point is, you haven't solved Twitch's problems at Twitch's scale.

Very true, that is a continual problem that even twitch hopefully has to address often. There are no simple answers as you scale an application. I was more addressing the feature set.

All a team can really do is setup an architecture that can theoretically scale, and then adjust as you reach higher and higher levels.

FWIW, our site is actually a pivot after a product that reached a higher unique per day than twitch currently has (99th globally vs 63rd globally according to alexa.com). And I can say from experience that scaling a real-time experience is MUCH harder than a more traditional web app experience. But the techniques are much the same, reach the scale, see what breaks, fix.

At least VODs work on mobile now, that was a huge bummer.

Also, Highlights last forever

Or at least dump all the Justin.tv usernames that aren't in use so I don't have to register a hideous username.

My 9 year old son would rather watch people play minecraft than actually play it. I'm not talking about competitive or pro play (if that even exists for minecraft) - just people goofing around.

Potentially just an enormous new business for games.

I still can't get my head around it. It's like his version of cartoons.

It's not really a new phenomena. Look back in the 70s or 80s with arcades, people would stand around watching their friends play. Then later young people went to each others houses and played video games (mostly multiplayer but some single player and watched).

It's entertaining watching how other people do things. They might play differently than how you would play it.

Ha, I remember those days all too well...there would be a big crowd around the best players of PacMan, Defender or what have you...you would have to work your way in there, or be tall enough to look over peoples shoulders, to see what was going on.

>It's entertaining watching how other people do things. They might play differently than how you would play it.

I don't really think this is the appeal

It's worth noting that in the 2 year period since Amazon bought Twitch, their search interest via Google has been stagnant.


Also worth noting that all the gaming console users have Twitch integrated and won't be going to Google to find it

The graph is relative.

The idea is that Twitch viewership is correlated with Google searches - not that Google search is responsible for all Twitch traffic.

and I'm telling you why the correlation could decouple making your data point meaningless

So have "Google" and "Amazon." Most people do not search these terms to get to the website and we know Amazon and Google have been doing well in the last two years.

twitch is twitch. Who really searches for Twitch, instead of just visiting the site and searching for content there?

That proportion is not too relevant for this graph. The graph is relative.

Even if a only a small percentage of Twitch users use Google search to access Twitch, the graph would be somewhat indicative of it's growth.

The question is: does the probability that a given user accesses Twitch over Google search go down as the user uses Twitch more often? Does it so more than on other sites, maybe because regular twitch use promotes other ways of engagement (phone app, console app, email notifications, twitter links from the streamers, etc)?

If 90% of new Twitch users reach Twitch over Google, 30% of one week old users and only 5% of one month old users, then a flat graph could actually indicate growth.

People who have just heard of twitch and want to know what it is? And whether those people eventually become twitch customers or not, their existence is a sign that twitch is still gaining mindshare in the broader community.

Hmm, this is interesting, for FB as a comparison:


Yep, corresponds almost perfectly with the rise of their mobile app.

Do you not know seemingly endless amounts of people who visit every site by googling the name?

interesting, but as others have pointed out, it doesn't show us anything we can form conclusions from. It's just an interesting coincidence or correlation.

more concerning for Google than for Twitch I'm afraid :/

More and more people are dumping cable TV. The main reasons that I hear for people keeping it are sports and news. If live streaming sites like twitch can sign deals with sports leagues, then I think we will see even more people cancelling their cable.

The nice thing about streaming is that you aren't channel limited, so there is no reason why you can't follow some obscure minor league team on the other side of the planet.

NFL rights alone will (my guess) cost around 5 billion USD per year when the next contracts are negotiated, maybe more.

There is no way an online service puts up that kind of money considering something like 1/3 of Americans simply don't have high-speed internet access.

The last time the rights were negotiated in 2013, they were $40B, with ESPN paying about double what NBC, CBS and Fox payed.

There is one company with the kind of money that might make sense -- Apple.

It would be a heck of a way for them to jumpstart a streaming service and make it only available on AppleTV.

Probably the biggest holdup would be the NFL itself, who makes sure those broadcast contracts reach the biggest number of people to keep their brand popular.

Apple really is the only option that makes sense, but mostly because it just doesn't make sense for anyone else. Would love to see it happen. I pay $50/month during the season for Sunday Ticket and the service is just OK. Would love to see a better take on it.

Live news broadcasts from individuals passionate about researching live events would be great, too. Anything like that that could replace MSM. From people compiling the current latest news from places like Twitter, to people actually out on the streets during events.

What is a good example of a twitch stream to show how great live streaming can be?

My favorite is https://www.twitch.tv/fopt_membrillo. He streams pro Age of Empires 2 tournaments in the crazy Spanish soccer style, and his community (including me) support him enough that it's his full-time job. Full-time AoE2 streamer in 2016??? I think that's amazing.

An example of a crazy moment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrxXKK8oIyE

Speaking of AoE2, I think Resonance22 has a really good voice and is great at explaining the game while playing/spectating. Random example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lo-qAVGb5vQ

(He's not doing it full-time.)

AoE2 HD really got me back into PC gaming after a decade of only touching Wii/Wii U/mobile games. I'm not yet sure if it can drag me into watching Twitch, though.

Resonance22 is indeed fantastic, and very professional. I know he wants to make a career of casting/gaming at some point and I hope he manages to pull it off. T90Official is another great AoE2 caster in a similar style to Resonance22.

Same with me about AoE2 HD, I hadn't played a PC game for years until I tried it. Now I'm hooked on both playing and spectating. The $30k Clan Masters tournament going on right now is insane.

Look for semi popular games with viewers in the 200-1000 viewers and you will find a lot of really good, entertaining people who interact with chat. Big streams are entertaining but fail to capture the magic and often become horrible people. In my opinion the glory days of twitch are already behind them because they have failed to incentivise small time streamers. Most pro esports players don't stream because the income is not worth the bullshit of the community.

I feel sorry for people who can't handle the twitch community. In fact most of the detractors are generally shitty people.

It's seasonal / semi-annually if I remember, but the Games Done Quick streams are a treat.



They have one event every summer (SGDQ) and one every winter (AGDQ)

It was an one-of-a-kind event but Twitch Plays Pokemon was a pretty memorable experience and something that could only happen on a livestream with 100,000 people in the IRC chat. Basically, someone set up a livestream that played pokemon games in an emulator using commands taken from the stream chat. With the complications of a 30s video delay and thousands of people pressing buttons at once, some really interesting things ended up happening.



Today they are "between games" though so the stream is just playing Pokemon Stadium in a loop


Great is fairly subjective. Some categories with examples to cover some range, clicking around in each of these should give some impression:

Big events/tournaments are basically like TV coverage of sports, with similar production values. Examples:





YouTubers that also do streams, personality is important. I personally find this kind often to slow and with to many interruptions, so I don't really watch them. But they are popular and seem to be a great way to make money (compared with just YouTube).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjCGn1wo4kQ (mostly strategy/simulation-type games, relatively small following -> interacts with subscribers a lot, names ingame-things after them ("hi $name! weren't you a dwarf that lost both arms once?"). EDIT: he is also streaming Ludum Dare this weekend, for another type of streaming content: https://www.twitch.tv/quill18

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uegnAQD1hRs (Minecraft player, relatively random pick)


There is also the category of competitive players streaming just playing (and since competitive play takes their attention, there is not much interaction with the audience. But you get to see how somebody really good at a game plays like and hear them explain their logic). Don't have good examples available though, since I don't play competitive games.

Here a list of the current top streams, per number of spectators: https://www.twitch.tv/directory/all

This weekend you can watch the LCS finals (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/League_of_Legends_Championship...).

Winners will represent their region (North America and Europe) for the World in October (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/League_of_Legends_World_Champi...).

Watching people play video games is something I still don't understand.

Give it a try, see if you like it. I'd suggest a variety streamer first. The main thing for me, is that it's entertainment, not really the game itself.

Visualise this: Imagine your favourite comedian cracking jokes, now imagine him cracking jokes while playing a video game. Now imagine a chat of thousands joining in and interacting with your favourite comedian. Now imagine yourself talking to and cracking jokes with them. This is, in essence what many popular streams are.

Now imagine he's not funny and he's trying to appeal to kids.

This is why I don't bother. I do like speedruns, and I watch some of the cinemassacre stuff on youtube since I do actually like watching those guys.

This sounds terrible, really! Which makes sense because I do not like Twitch etc. :)

The GP is getting downvoted, so I guess a lot of people do enjoy watching games be played instead of playing them. Thank you for providing an explanation. As someone who does not enjoy it, it IS really difficult to understand.

how about watching people talk? talk shows are some of the more profitable programs in television, but all you're doing is watching people talk. oprah built a whole media empire on talk shows. entertainment is in the eye of the beholder, and when you have ~150M beholders, you can build a pretty good business [1]. :)

[1] http://www2.deloitte.com/global/en/pages/technology-media-an...

Do you understand watching people play sports?

It doesn't make sense UNTIL you treat it as a competitive sport. I've played video games in my life but never treated it as something that I should improve my skills in. When I started playing Magic (the card game) I started to watch streams to learn better plays. It's about skill and skill development just like sports.

Commenting merely to say "I don't personally enjoy the topic of this discussion" similarly mystifies me.

Think like when you watched your grand brother or friend play a game and gave advice on how to progress. Sometimes it's great to take a backseat and watch others play and say funny things.

To me, at least for professional gamers, they're really entertaining to watch. They understand the game they're playing completely and are dedicating themselves full time to be the best player. It is something that I admire, plus it gives people that "live" for playing games a chance for a decent life and job.

I never would have imagined it would be entertaining either. Until I ran into this speedrun of Yoshi's Island randomly, it was one of the most entertaining and fascinating things I ever watched.


Watching people play golf is something that ton's of people don't understand. Nor chasing a black thing around on ice with sticks given the ratings. Yet you realize tons of people do watch these things.

A shared experience, even if you don't engage with the other participants is what makes it. Knowing that someone else just saw what you saw some other person do.

Simple concept. You get the benefit of playing through the game without the drawbacks.

What's the drawbacks?

My perspective:

- Purchasing

- Downloading

- Installing

- Patching

- Commitment

- Mechanical Skill

It allows you to experience the story of a game or the experience of high skill play with little up-front cost or long-term commitment.

One you've left out: hours wasted farming experience or searching around for whatever you're supposed to do next tend to just be cut out of let's plays. (You still need to suffer through those if you're watching a stream; the advantage of a stream over an edited video seems to be mainly that it provides a social group to hang out with.)

Paying for the game, and in some cases the console it runs on.

There are 2 major types of content on Twitch:

- competition broadcasting. With teams, pro players, sponsors, shoutcasters, analysts, interviews during the breaks, huge shows, stadiums and fans. It's like watching any "classic" sports on the TV. Can rise several hundreds of thousands of spectators (League of Legends, CS:GO, Dota 2 and Hearthstone mostly).

- player stream. Can be pro players during their training or just really really good players who stream all day as a job. On a personal note, I watch them because, as I said, they are really really good and the most popular of them are generally entertaining. The most popular have peaks at 5000-30000 spectators.

In the 2 cases, we talk about watching the best players in the world (may be 0.1% of the streamers). The rest of the streamers doesn't really have a public (friends and family probably).

I think you're leaving out an important third category of "personality" streamers. People that get views because they are entertaining, rather than because they're necessarily that good at the games they're playing.

I don't know what proportion of the whole each of the three makes up, but I would assume that the third category at least the very least merits a mention.

I honestly think the game streaming model is sustainable, but it's also a bit of a fad that will die down in 5-7 years. I also think Sony and Microsoft will begin to make their own portals of game streaming that will challenge Twitch. Microsoft just made an acquisition that points to this. That's not to say they want to kill Twitch, just that they see its value. In doing so though, it will squeeze the margin on advertising revenues, couple that with just demographic shifts in the social fad and I believe it will not grow near as fast as people forecast As for valuation, I don't know the numbers, it could be worth billions; but $20 Billion seems like a stretch when CBS is only worth $22 Billion and Viacom $18 Billion at present. I wonder what their actual financials look like, I feel like there is more monetary incentives and opportunities for the content creators than for Twitch itself.

Twitch is a very interesting linguistical experiment, as the chat emotes can be used to convey very subtle nuances in meaning, unlike anything we've seen before, off- or online. For example, Kappa is a smug face denoting sarcasm, superiority, condescension and arrogance, but can imply any of those meanings subverted. Combining the emotes together, along with standard ASCII characters, can produce very complex and astoundingly compact stories[0].

[0] http://i.imgur.com/sVQr7wY.jpg

Game developers don't have any option except to restrict public display of their games in some way.

There are now plenty of people who enjoy watching but not playing games.

Game developers need revenue for this firstly because they deserve it, having made the entertainment, but secondly because former players are now just watchers and not paying money, reducing revenue.

My guess is that games developers will permit public display of a restricted part of the game, like level one only, and will require royalties for display of other sections of the game

The vast majority of game developers are going exactly the opposite route. They won't add restrictions. In fact they'll spend a decent chunk of their design and development resources on coming up with ways to make sure the games are streamed more. Because it's the most cost effective marketing channel available today. Maybe the only cost effective one. And in the words of one game publisher, "The biggest challenge we have today isn’t making great games, it’s making sure people even know they exist".

There are some exceptions, of course. Nintendo are the big one (they have a truly draconian standard contract required to stream their games). But there's at most a handful of indie developers who are opposed to streaming. To the extent that it's actual news when it happens.

> a restricted part of the game, like level one only,

Which kinds of games do you think constitute the vast vast majority of Twitch viewership? Because it's not the type of games which have a "level one".


Personal anecdote incoming: I don't buy as many games as I used to as a teenager/college student, but the ones that I do spend money on now are the ones I see on Twitch.

Game developers do need the revenue, but they don't deserve it simply because they created a game. The market determines what a game is worth - and the amount of effort, time and money sunk into a game can, but often may not, factor into that valuation.

Restricting free expression isn't going to bring game developers more revenue, it's just going to increase piracy and damage the developers' reputation. Like it or not, this isn't something developers have any say in or control over.

Maybe, though streaming seems to me like more of a form of free marketing for these publishers than anything. Watching a game being played several times over will probably turn into a sale for a lot of people (though not everyone).

If you have a multiplayer game and want to make some money from the streams, it would be smart to host your own tournament and sell ads through it rather than charging royalties. Otherwise, streamers are doing your product a huge favor through exposure.

It depends on what type of games.

Games like Dota2, Call of Duty, etc. require some strategy and will be a different experience each time (especially on multiplayers).

If you think about "Beyond two souls", well not that much.

On the other spectrum, you also have to consider copyright infringement and royalties as a problem on its own. Why should some individuals make money by reproducing the content (totally in some cases) without having to pay any royalties at all?

Am I allowed to stream the latest Star Wars with me in the corner making comments along?

Movie is passive and game is active, to some extent yes, but for how long can we disassociate both mediums in terms of IP?

Maybe some games. But at the moment most popular games are actually investing development resources into integrating twitch support right into the game to make it even easier to stream. The huge network effects you get from having a popular game on twitch seem to outweigh the 'costs' of people streaming it without paying the publisher.

I think it's funny that people downvote because they don't like what they read even if its true.

Put yourself in the shoes of the game developer who puts everything on the line to develop a game that thousands of people watch but the developer gets no revenue for.

>Put yourself in the shoes of the game developer who puts everything on the line to develop a game that thousands of people watch but the developer gets no revenue for.

Has this _ever_ happened?

Yea pretty sure if you get the point where you have thousands or tens of thousands of viewers on Twitch, your game is already very successful.

Thousands of people watch -> word of mouth marketing -> people who wouldn't have heard of the game now know it, and might buy it

No people watch -> nothing happens -> nothing happens

Thousands of people hear about the game and that it is pretty okay -> Steam sale/Humble Bundle -> People think they are getting a deal -> PROFIT!

I wish Twitch had an Apple TV app.

I've found that the Apple TV is the only way I "get" YouTube in the same way the kids these days do. No way am I watching videos on my laptop/desktop/iPhone/iPad while multitasking, but video on the big TV is great when sitting on the couch or on in the background.

Twitch on the Apple TV would be similar, but it appears Amazon (as with Prime Video) is refusing to release an app.

Welcome to todays walled entertainment gardens. Amazon thinks their Fire TV or Stick is superior to Apple TV (or any other product) and why would you want an Apple TV anyway? (sarcasm)

Amazon doesn't want to pay a tax to apple when they sell videos/service through an AppleTV. Amazon Prime app is available on other media players.

Apple on the other hand doesn't support their video ITunes content on non apple devices.

and amazon could be a $3T (that is trillion) company.

Nothing wrong with these speculations. At least they are positive and much better than recession or bubble is coming like BS rumors.

source - http://finance.yahoo.com/news/chamath-palihapitiya-says-amaz...

I wonder how the founders feel.

Well we still got $970 million dollars, so mostly alright :)

What did your mom say when you told her that?

LOL, this is gold :)

These valuations are absurd.

Not real

Steam(Valve) could be next on Amazon's list.

Desktop application: Add - amazon shopping - streaming - viewing - social ...

Why should they sell it to Amazon? Valve is very profitable as it is.

Also: Valve is privately owned and the owner (it may just be Gabe) is not likely to sell.


Seriously, they effectively own a money-printing machine. They ARE PC gaming.

Steam could launch their own streaming video platform. I don't see any reason why they haven't done so already. They're in a perfect spot for it.

Valve might just be the company I see as the least likely to allow buyout.

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