As we approach the end of the decade, it’s only natural to reflect on some of the biggest trends to have taken the tech spotlight over the past few years. One of the most prominent examples of these is undoubtedly the growing appreciation towards the newly possible world of live gaming, in all of its many forms.
Led by the likes of Twitch, live gaming and game streaming has contributed a great deal into other facets of the gaming industry, so just how far has this trend coming, and where might we expect it to go in the future?
The biggest contributor to the growth of this form of interactivity is the evolution of the technology that has made live streaming possible. In previous generations, only television was capable of offering high-quality transmission. In the last decade, however, improving internet speeds and the ubiquity of online connections have opened the world up to low-cost, easily accessible and at-home streaming possibilities.
At first, we saw this in the likes of YouTube, with simple online, low-resolution playback, but continued progress would eventually cement live streaming as a viable alternative to traditional broadcasts.
Launching in June of 2011, Twitch achieved a remarkable accomplishment by averaging over 100,000 concurrent viewers by the end of 2012. Currently hitting over ten times that view count, averaging over 1.202 million concurrent viewers, this popularity has inspired many to follow in its footsteps, both within gaming and from other forms of entertainment.
On the gaming front, one of the more popular developments comes from online casinos. Services like winningroom live casino adopt similar approaches in that they incorporate real people and live streaming. Unlike most of Twitch, however, these online casinos take a more direct approach, offering interaction between viewer and streamer through hosted games like blackjack, roulette, and baccarat.
Others like Periscope offer services that are not directly gaming focused, but instead place their interest in a wide variety of other live streaming categories. These include news conferences to personal updates from celebrities – the latter of which is also now commonly found on Twitch itself.
The other side of these developments comes from the explosion of popularity that eSports have seen within the last few years. While there has always been a calling for televised gaming competitions from the more involved fanbase level, eSports viewership has expanded to a level where it has grown far beyond the confines of the internet or localized clubs. Even the likes of ESPN are now getting in on the action, showing major tournaments for games like League of Legends and Street Fighter 5.
This is mirrored by a growth in live tournaments, which themselves have grown from smaller gatherings to massive competitions. Some of the biggest routinely bring in thousands of spectators, with the fighting game tournament Evo bringing in over 10,000 in-person onlookers in 2018, while the DOTA 2-focused International brought in a whopping 20,000 live spectators.
The continued patterns of growth we see both in Twitch and related entries mark the inevitability that the future of live gaming, in all of its forms, is going to be bigger than ever. As for the natural end-point of this growth, that is impossible to guess. Since both gaming itself and these related industries keep growing and evolving, we can only know for sure that live gaming will be a focus of the next entertainment generation, wherever that might take us.
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