Google announces Stadia, its new game-streaming service

TL;DR - This week Google announced its new cloud gaming service, called Stadia.  Along with moving players’ game libraries to the cloud, eliminating the need for downloads, the new service was clearly built with streamers in mind.  Using the Stadia controller, players can become streamers quickly and easily by pressing a button. Naturally this will be linked up to YouTube, and through the platform streamers can monetize their content through game sales on Stadia.  More interestingly streamers can invite their viewers to join their game directly. Using the new State Share feature, clips can be easily shared to YouTube to further promote the streamer’s content. Stadia will work across just about any platform, meaning Stadia users can compete with non-Stadia users natively.  Users won’t be limited to the Stadia controller either. Third-party controllers and keyboard/mouse combos will work at launch. No set release date or pricing was addressed in this release.

Full story - https://techcrunch.com/2019/03/19/googles-new-stadia-gaming-platform-is-all-about-streamers/

While LCS viewership stagnates, LEC shows no signs of slowing

TL;DR - Average concurrent viewer count for the League of Legends LEC Spring Split has exceeded 86,000 this year, up from the 59,000 it was averaging just a year prior.  This is due in very large part to the rebranding and restructuring of the league that took place between seasons. However the NA LCS has remained stagnant, posting virtually no growth whatsoever.  It’s still well ahead of its European counterpart, averaging about 112,000 average viewers over the same period. Notably, both were growing at a similar pace however the LEC is now steadily outperforming.  

Full story - https://dotesports.com/league-of-legends/news/lcs-viewership-falls-lec-continues-upswing-on-twitch

Twitch Rivals to host Apex Legends tournament at TwitchCon Europe

TL;DR - In the few weeks left leading up to TwitchCon Europe in Berlin, there will be four qualifier events, two for EU and NA each.  In total there will be 96 streamers competing for a chance at the big stage at TwitchCon. To date, only Sacriel and Pow3rtv have been confirmed for the event, but that will be changing quickly in the coming weeks.  Naturally everything will be streamed to the Twitch Rivals channel, with streamers permitted to share their own PoV streams during the qualifiers.

Full story - https://www.dexerto.com/apex-legends/twitch-rivals-apex-legends-challenge-twitchcon-europe-schedule-qualifiers-players-more-475318

FACEIT and T1 team up on Apex Legends Invitational tournament

TL;DR - FACEIT and T1 Entertainment and Sports (group behind SK Telecom esports) have joined forces on a new Apex Legends tournament set for May 30th.  The event will be live-streamed on the T1 and FACEIT Twitch channels, with everyone competing for a piece of the $25k prize pool. Additionally, one of the teams will be invited to stream from FACEIT’s studio in Santa Monica.  In total, 20 streamers will be invited and their names will be shared as the event draws closer.

Full story - https://esportsobserver.com/t1-faceit-apex-legends/

Epic unveils a new $100M industry grant program

TL;DR - Called Epic MegaGrants, the new program will allocate $100M for qualified game devs, students, educators, enterprise professionals, media and entertainment creators (e.g. streamers), and tool developers using the Unreal Engine or meaningfully contributing to open-source programs.  The predecessor to Epic MegaGrants was the Unreal Dev Grants program which awarded $5M to a host of industry players. Under the new program, the awards will be portioned out in $5,000 - $500,000 increments. The article goes through the various eligible categories and the requirements for each so be sure to check that out if you feel you might be a fit.

Full story - https://www.shacknews.com/article/110644/epic-games-announces-100000000-epic-megagrants-program

Twitch community meet-ups find an official home on the web

TL;DR - Almost two years after officially recognizing and supporting the community meet-ups around the world, Twitch has finally given those meet-ups a central place to live on the web.  Meet-ups can now be discovered locally on the official Twitch Meet-up page, which also includes info on the organizers, an event schedule, photos from past events, and a means to contact the organizers.

Full story - https://blog.twitch.tv/now-its-easier-than-ever-to-meetup-b7f0afc8f70a

Roman Atwood announces he’ll donate a portion of merch sales to “small” streamers

TL;DR - The popular YouTuber shared this week that he’ll be donating $2 from the sale of every one of his “Smile More” t-shirts to a small streamer.  In his words, he’s “looking for the guys and girls grinding for like, four people.” The shirts are available on his personal website for $24.99 a piece.

Full story - https://www.dexerto.com/entertainment/youtuber-roman-atwood-announces-new-initiative-donate-small-twitch-streamers-479734

Canadian Twitch documentary set for release later this month

TL;DR - The National Film Board of Canada and the European channel Arte France have assembled a 4-part documentary on everything Twitch.  The 10-minute episodes will cover fourteen Twitch streamers, focusing on how they engage with their audiences, build their communities, and exploring the nuances of the Twitch community.  The film’s director spent four years fully immersed in the Twitch world to bring the series together. The series is set for release on March 27th and can be viewed on the Film Board’s Facebook and YouTube channels.

Full story - https://www.engadget.com/2019/03/23/national-film-board-canada-twitch-streamers-documentary/

In case you missed it…

Dating back to our first TwitchCon in 2016 we’ve seen developers building interactive elements into their games specifically for the streaming community.  It was three years ago, which may as well be a decade in terms of how quickly things have evolved in this industry. Still, today, we’re seeing new games published regularly that feature ways for streamers to invite their audiences to participate.  But what about on a larger scale? I’m talking on the scale of professional esports - where audience participation takes on a different meaning.

In this article published on VentureBeat earlier this week, Chris Stamp (CEO - Earthbound Games) covers this exact scenario beautifully.  He mentions how titles like CS:GO and DotA 2 now give spectators access to stats, commentary, and replays in real-time. The days of relying on the “cameraman” to intuitively capture every big play are nearing an end.  In many of these games there are critical interactions happening simultaneously across the map. It’s only logical that greater interactivity is the next evolution for video games and live streaming.

The article goes on to say:

“Unlocking the relationships which exist between spectators, developers and streamers through new tools and interactive concepts could redefine how online games are experienced and deliver a wealth of untapped revenue.”

What’s important to note here is that all parties are playing a part in how this will shape up.  Viewers have made it clear through their actions and feedback that they crave more involvement in the goings on of games, and streamers have become (for the most part) far more receptive to welcoming that sort of interaction.

This evolution will undoubtedly open doors for up-and-coming streamers working to carve out their own slice of the viewership pie.  Just as DrDisrespect has done with his insane production quality and how Ninja and Shroud have capitalized on their incredible skill at the games they play, streamers working their way up the directory that thrive on interactivity will have new avenues available to them - and soon!

“As the relationship between spectators and streamers evolves, it will soon be second nature for spectators to spend money to vote, make micropayments for extra impact features and earn game-currency from active spectating.”

This is already happening.  We’ve seen companies like Blizzard and Riot implement features to reward viewers for watching live events.  And there’s been a growing number of titles released in just the last year that integrate direct viewer participation, be it voting all the way to playing in tandem with the streamer.  It’s not a stretch to assume there will be pay-to-play options down the road just as streamers today host sub days for their most devoted viewers.

We’re most certainly at a turning point in game development and the opportunities with audience interaction are boundless.  This paradigm shift will create exciting new opportunities for everyone involved - just as it should be.