eSports Week 1: Three Potential Twitch Competitors

Can’t wait to see if the prof actually approves that third one as a focus of study


Prompt: Identify three gaming infrastructures (i.e. graphics, streaming services, game development, etc) and report how they will affect change and describe their impact. Give a projection for how you think the esports industry will look like in 5 years. Additionally, give an overview of most popular games in each game category and what has lead to their popularity, (200-700 words). Post this summary in SMWW e-Arena in the Week One Discussion Board by Friday. Have some fun with the discussion of this week’s theme.

I predict rapid alterations in what platforms are the leading voices in eSports. Twitch has been the leading platform for the last five years, since Twitch Plays Pokemon brought them into the public focus, but I’ve noticed that when it comes to online trends, there’s always an “early adapter” who falls out of focus as soon as things hit mainstream. It happened when Discord replaced Mumble/Skype, it happened when Facebook replaced MySpace, and it happened when Google replaced Yahoo. With eSports on the verge of going mainstream, this is Twitch’s moment to seize history, but I want to explore their biggest competitors, the companies I think most likely to possibly seize their crown.

(One supplementary note: I firmly believe that OWL-style professional leagues are the future of eSports, as opposed to CS:GO-style leagues composed of passionate communities and grassroots origins. Traditional sports have shown that centralized, corporate-style orgs are both profitable and popular, and the increased control by a single entity allows unprecedented levels of organization and unity in branding. This is one reason I think Twitch has the potential to be replaced; corporate leagues will have the resources and cohesion to abandon one streaming platform for another if the winds shift.)

While Twitch is currently the leader in eSport-related streaming, I’m personally very interested in YouTube and whether it will be able to nudge its way into Twitch’s domain. Both companies have been steadily increasing their competing services for a while (Twitch now allows permanent video storage via the Highlight feature, and YouTube is aggressively promoting its streaming service) and if YouTube can get their act together I think they have several important selling points that can give them the edge over Twitch, namely brand recognition and ease of video storage in volume. Their biggest downside is their draconic copyright policies that are turning content creators off the platform. This largely turns away any potential eSport communities that aren’t corporate-controlled, like the Overwatch League, but I’ve already mentioned I think OWL-style leagues are the future so YouTube can potentially overcome these issues.

Second, I’d like to explore Mixer, the other major Twitch competitor. Mixer has a couple perks in its court: Microsoft money, crowdplay integration, and Hypezone technology. The second one is the most important; Mixer’s main claim to fame is that it supports HTML plugins that allow the viewing audience to directly involve themselves in the stream. For example, they can vote directly for events to happen in-game, or randomly-selected opt-in viewers can play as characters in supported titles. This offers a level of interactivity that no other streaming platform can offer, and has huge potential for gambling/fantasy circuits. The big question is (a) Does Microsoft have the guts to make themselves the fantasy eSports site of choice and (b) will governments allow them to do so or will they condone the practice as underage gambling, similar to how microtransaction loot boxes have been banned in Belgium.

Third (as silly as this sounds), I want to examine YouPorn, not as a competitor to Twitch but as a peripheral provider who specializes in adult leagues. This largely stems from my belief that OWL-style leagues are the future, and most corporations want to keep a family-friendly appearance since underage gamers are a huge market for eSport-style games. Most of the biggest names in eSports (Blizzard, Riot, Twitch, Valve) insist on keeping things family friendly. YouPorn, in contrast, has sponsored NSFW tournaments and fielded prize-winning professional teams since 2014. With modern eSports unanimously embracing the childsafe experience, a counterpart adult league is an untapped market and YouPorn seems to be the only website attempting to claim it.

I’d go into more detail, but the prompt said to keep our post to under 700 words. If anyone wants further justification or commentary on these three sites of choice, please let me know! I have a lot to say on all three, and hope to be able to do so in future posts.

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