Live streaming has had another massive month, with Facebook Gaming and Twitch soaring in popularity, and other platforms also seeing large scale growth. This may be attributed to the continued isolation and social distancing measures taken across the world these days, but it is also a testament to the continually improving user experience and availability of engaging content across the platforms.
Gaming more flexible than ever
The rise in popularity of gaming and iGaming is leading to an increase in the flexibility of new designs.
We see many games moving online, meaning that people can team up with their friends on a global server, creating a sense of connection largely lacking from many communities right now. We also see popular games adapting to their Android and iOS versions, like for example even streaming platforms evolving to fit your pocket.
This means that streamers go live more frequently than ever, with Twitch alone amassing an enormous 5 billion hours for Q2 of 2020. Asian markets are noted for making up the bulk of viewers – India and Singapore being the top two.
Since it appears that watching video games and eSports is just as compelling as playing, this number may increase even more.
Originally an offshoot of Justin.tv and owned by Amazon, Twitch is leading the way in terms of live-streaming services, with an emphasis on gaming. It has seen staggering growth so far this year, with a record-breaking 3 billion hours streamed in Q1, only to break the record with 5 billion hours in Q2.
This growth is largely due to the quality and variety of available content as users have been able to stream games like Fortnite and Call of Duty, casino games like slots-type and table games, sporting events, and even talk shows and cooking shows. This means people can now enjoy not only playing themselves but also watching an enormous amount of hours for their comrades solving gaming issues. Sweating when seeing them trying to beat the Call of Duty game in the #Yolo mod or when they spin that roulette like there is no tomorrow is guaranteed. The struggle and thrill are real here.
But, there is always a way to support the streamers. By subscribing to their channel, viewers can support them with real currency, not only bits, turning online channels into a career path for many. Security is the second name of these online transactions, so anyone willing to financially support their favourite channels will not need to worry about their money’s destiny.
Cyber-attacks are among the highest costs to online industries, most recently costing one gambling company $30 million to deal with the consequences of the massive data leak of their app’s users all over the globe. These attacks influenced their businesses in a big way, creating a serious threat of losing future users and customers. Luckily, appropriate action was taken but the event inspires other iGaming providers to bolster their protection systems. When it comes to playing slots with real money, for example, casinos.co.za takes pride in the fact that they “wouldn’t get a wink of sleep if they didn’t know you were in safe hands”. Twitch follows suit, boasting about its use of managerial, technical, and physical measures to protect its customers’ data.
However, Twitch hasn’t been without problems and controversies; high levels of abuse and harassment have been reported, some homophobic, transphobic, and racist in tone. More worrying are reports of children being targeted by predatory users. While Twitch has pledged to do more to tackle these issues in the future, it is a red flag to advertisers and could affect ad revenue significantly. However, that hasn’t diminished its user base, and the platform continues to grow.
Another meteoric first half of the year, Facebook Gaming has seen a 316% increase from 2019. This has been attributed to the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe, as many seek distanced at-home entertainment.
ESports events have surged in popularity, and Facebook Gaming is one of the primary platforms for video game fans to enjoy them. It functions in a tab on the Facebook site and also as a standalone app for smartphones and tablets. Facebook introduced an in-stream rewards feature, so viewers could be gifted rewards while live-streaming certain games – a cutting edge feature upon its launch.
According to statistics, Facebook Gaming recorded 822 million hours of viewing for eSports in Q2 of 2020 and is projected to continue increasing in popularity. The fact that Microsoft Mixer has been merged with it should increase its user base significantly, although as noted above, other streaming services may also benefit. But Facebook, like its rivals, is no stranger to controversy and also has to deal with allegations of widespread online bullying and abuse.