Twitch acquires social platform Bebo for nearly $25M

TL;DR - The final acquisition price is yet to be confirmed, but reports are indicating it’s somewhere between, well, $0 and $25M.  However Twitch has confirmed the purchase and its intent to use Bebo to help build out its esports brand, Twitch Rivals. Other bidders for the platform included Discord and Facebook.  Bebo was launched in 2005 and became one of the key social networks for the UK and Ireland. In 2008, it was acquired by AOL for $850M. Only two years later AOL dumped Bebo for $25M to Criterion Capital.  The original owners of Bebo later bought it back in 2013 for the bargain price of $1M. Bebo has a history of involvement with esports, running tournaments for streamers on Twitch. Given this final pivot, Twitch is putting the Bebo team to work to grow the Twitch Rivals brand.

Full story -

Twitch and Teespring are back in business with new integration

TL;DR - Two years ago, Twitch ended a relationship with Teespring in an effort to push merchandise sales through Twitch’s parent organization Amazon.  This week we learned Twitch has partnered again with Teespring, this time enabling Partners and Affiliates to sell subscriber-only merchandise through a new Extension.  Viewers can shop a streamer’s store without leaving Twitch, and alerts can be enabled for purchases. Teespring is currently used by about 18,000 Twitch streamers.

Full story -

TwitchCon San Diego tickets are now on sale

TL;DR - Tickets for TwitchCon 2019, set to take place in San Diego, are officially on sale.  Visitors can expect to see many of the standard TwitchCon features like Artist Alley, the Charity Plaza, Twitch Rivals, cosplay competitions, and tons more.  The event takes place September 27 - 29, with single day tickets set at $99, and 3-day tickets at $169. The big difference this year is that the party will cost $30 more on top of the 3-day pass, while in prior years it was included with that ticket.

Full story -

Riot’s new Teamfight Tactics is winning viewership share on Twitch

TL;DR - Still confined only to the Public Beta Environment (PBE), Riot Games’ new League of Legends spinoff, Teamfight Tactics, is having no issue attracting viewers on Twitch.  Within hours of going live, the game had topped the directory, ahead of even its predecessor. TFT, while based in the League of Legends universe, isn’t a MOBA at all. Rather, it’s what’s called an autobattler - in the same spirit of Auto Chess and Dota Underlords.  Two hours post-launch the game had already amassed 190k viewers on Twitch alone. The full release is expected for June 25th.

Full story -

HUYA lands Team Liquid streaming exclusivity in China

TL;DR - The exclusive streaming deal covers Team Liquid’s US and EU teams, and includes real-time translation for selected content.  With the current restrictions in place by the Chinese government, most content from the West is inaccessible to the Chinese audience.  For Team Liquid, the deal with HUYA will open its organization, teams, and players to an entirely new audience that’s hungry for esports content.  The two companies are working with to overcome the lack of infrastructure HUYA has in North America.

Full story -

$1M Auto Chess invitational set for late 2019

TL;DR - Set for October (exact date not given), this will be the first major event for the new autobattler genre.  What began as a Dota 2 mod from Drodo Studio has spawned a new genre with Valve and Riot now competing directly.  However, being first pays off and Drodo is taking the first shot at a major esports event for the genre. While some streamers and players will be invited directly, others can compete in regional qualifiers for a shot at the $1M prize pool.  The invitational will take place in Shanghai, China, where a mobile version of Auto Chess enjoys insane popularity.

Full story -

EA defends its loot box mechanics in face of government regulation

TL;DR - The UK Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media, and Sports Committee summoned executives from EA and Epic as part of an “evidence session” for its investigation into the addictive nature of certain technologies.  At the center of the hearing was, not surprisingly, loot box mechanics. EA resorted to claiming its loot boxes are both “ethical and fun”, and that they’re better referred to as “surprise mechanics”. Ironic, coming from the company whose game lit the fuse on this global controversy.  EA’s VP of legal and government affairs went so far as to compare, surprise mechanics, to popular toys like Kinder Eggs and Hatchimals. It seems little was accomplished, aside from the abundance of memes we’re likely to see come from this laughable exchange.

Full story -

In case you missed it…

A question we get very often is why anyone would subscribe to a streamer - someone playing video games at their leisure.  Putting aside some obvious issues with that question, one of the core reasons for subscribing is access to custom emotes. These are the emotes unique to that streamer, that you can’t find anywhere else on the platform.  In Twitch’s case, those emotes are verified as unique (to the best of their ability) as part of the approval process.

Emotes on Twitch are a very special thing.  They foster a sense of community, and serve as a unifying influence for the members of that community.  People can connect through emotes, convey feelings and emotions often better than words, and communicate in a way uniquely their own.  So to say someone subscribes for access to a handful of pixel-packed squares, really doesn’t convey the true reason. Emotes are part of the glue of Twitch.  They keep the community together, and growing.

As Twitch’s Affiliate program has grown, and as more emote slots are gradually added for those Affiliates, a thriving market for custom art has blossomed.  Spend a few minutes on Twitter searching hashtags like #emoteartist, or #twitchemoteartist and it’s clear there’s something special happening.  Streamers have embraced the potential of emotes, and an entire community of artists have responded to accommodate their requests.  And they’re making decent money doing it.

In this article over at Polygon, they dive deep into the economy of Twitch emote creation, speaking to artists and streamers who’ve turned emotes into thriving personal businesses.  Artists are capitalizing on the explosion in emote demand sparked by Twitch’s Affiliate program. Full-time and near full-time artists are charging anywhere from the low $30s upwards of $80 per emote - or more for additional custom art like overlays and BRB screens.  It’s a burgeoning economy fueled by something we’re intimately familiar with at StreamKick - audience engagement.

Streamers who treat their emotes as an extension of their community are inherently better positioned to foster more audience engagement.  And that’s a crucial factor in the growth and development of one’s channel. We know (we always knew), because we asked you and you told us just how important it is to you.  However, “audience engagement” as a term tends to be associated solely with chat interaction.  While it’s a primary determinant, it doesn’t stop there. Interactions over social media, Discord, and through emotes work in tandem to make streamers more relatable to their audiences, and grant viewers the access they crave.

So the next time someone asks you why you or anyone would subscribe to a streamer’s channel, instead of using a canned response like “they have cool emotes”, take a minute to think about why you like those emotes and what that access means to you.  It will go a long way towards educating others about the awesomeness of live-streaming and hopefully expose them to a world they too will love.