Launched in June of 2011, Twitch started a niche site with what many considered a limited appeal. Fundamentally, the idea was based around watching others play video games, and to an outsider, this concept didn’t make a lot of sense. After all, why would anyone choose to watch someone else play a game when they could do so themselves? While there are many answers to this question, the outcomes alone have proven Twitch’s viability. From a tiny business, Twitch is now an undeniably important part of the gaming industry, with its influence only continuing to grow.
A Place in Entertainment
Outside of video games, similar progression in live stream integration is perhaps best illustrated in online gambling sites, such as the live casino from Betfair. On this website, games like Lightning Blackjack and Quantum Roulette have adopted this approach by striving for greater interactivity and user-friendliness. Fusing at-home convenience with the real feel of physical casinos, systems like this has skyrocketed in popularity over the last few years, taking a place alongside Twitch as a technologically progressive take on a classic formula.
Back in video games, the basic design of titles has been fundamentally altered by Twitch’s popularity in the gaming consciousness. Doom Eternal, for example, launched with an easter egg of a popular streamer. More recently, as explained by Game Informer, Guardians of the Galaxy was released with a streaming mode to turn off copyrighted music. This prevents the game from being hit with DMCA strikes, so players can stream without worrying about being taken offline.
Twitch’s Upward Growth
Over the first five years, Twitch slowly worked on developing its technology and user base. Originally popularised by speedrunners, the appeal of the service and its personalities would soon gain worldwide attention. This growth exploded around 2016, where according to Business of Apps, it earned around $100 million in revenue. Over the next four years, Twitch would enjoy a massive increase in momentum, earning $2.3 billion in revenue in 2020.
What Makes Twitch Special?
The core of Twitch’s appeal ties into the simple fun of playing games with friends. As we get older, we don’t have the time to hang out and play directly together as we used to, and while online systems can help, their disconnected nature can still be off-putting. Streaming acts as a sort of middle ground, where viewers and players can enjoy a level of friendliness that isn’t possible through other means.
With small streamers, this often takes the form of direct friendships, where streamers and viewers grow so accustomed to each other that casual relationships can blossom into something more. For larger names, it’s the parasocial relationship aspect as noted by Dictionary that plays a larger part. Not inherently positive or negative, this more open and communicative form of interaction between viewer and streamer is, for many users, a more appreciable form of entertainment than any other medium.
With no sign yet of slowing down, it’s impossible to know for sure just how far streaming systems like Twitch could go. Even appearing in major film releases like Free Guy, streaming is a mainstream activity loved by millions of people from all walks of life. Whether as a career path or just a way to watch, streaming has reshaped the entertainment industry, with no end in sight.