Three Things The Google / Twitch Affair Shows About Gaming

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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Three Things The Google / Twitch Affair Shows About Gaming

Recently, word started emerging about plans on Google's part to pick up Twitch, the livestreaming company with a particular focus on games. The reports suggested that Google was prepared to pay $1 billion for the company in a straight cash deal, and though Google didn't confirm the deal's existence, the idea of it alone was enough to capture a lot of imaginations. In fact, there were three things the idea of a Twitch service owned by Google made abundantly clear to me, so I put said things together into convenient list form.

It's important to note that Google, at last report, noted that it doesn't “...comment on rumors or speculation,” so all of this may ultimately come to naught. But even the idea that Google would be prepared to drop fully nine figures on Twitch says quite a bit about the state of things in gaming today. Like what? Well, like this.

It shows the value of the gamer market in general. One of the biggest things that leaps to mind about a deal between Twitch and Google is that there are a lot of gamers concentrated around Twitch. The numbers recently revealed about Twitch in general are staggering when you stop and think about them. For instance, Twitch's numbers went from around 20 million viewers a month at the end of 2012, but by the end of 2013, that number hit 45 million. That's a huge quantity of viewers, and viewers with a lot of common interests. That value as an advertising pool is likely going to be a big draw for Google, even if it didn't already have plenty of gaming content of its own.

It shows the true extent of gamer-themed video content. While the aggregate of Twitch was impressive enough, looking at it more closely told an even better story. Twitch's viewers watch just south of two hours a day, on average, at 106 minutes a day. Reports suggested that Twitch represented the fourth largest piece of network traffic online during the primetime hours, meaning there are plenty of people turning away from television and checking out Twitch instead. I personally knew a guy—a father of a couple of young kids—who once noted that, any time he wanted to play a game, he'd simply turn to a “Let's Play” video instead. He'd watch that game get played as though he were playing it himself, and it would be done much more rapidly. Indeed, in many cases, games with animated sequences now actually have said sequences posted on YouTube. That's the value of gamer-themed content; it's allowing gamers, or former gamers, to expand their repertoire or just stay in the game at all by putting the content in question right out there for players.

It proves that e-sports has plenty of potential to realize in the entertainment field. This is an issue that may have seemed a little shaky for some in the past, but the point is quite clear. We've seen e-sports develop scandal, get themed restaurants, create players with impressive salaries, and in some cases, even surpass actual sports in terms of viewership. Really, e-sports is, in its own right, becoming very much an “actual sport.” There are simply too many gamers and too much money going into the entire operation to not call it an “actual sport” in the truest sense.

This is really just a start of things, but even the idea that Google would be willing to drop huge money on Twitch actually makes a lot of sense, and makes for some very big potential down the line. So bearing in mind that this deal may never come to fruition, there's certainly more than enough reason for Google to actually pull the trigger. The huge numbers of viewers involved, the means to augment YouTube's own staggering quantities of video game-related content, and of course, the value to the advertisers all add up to make this a very big potential deal indeed.

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