Over time Twitch has carved out its presence within gaming culture to be a strong form of influence across consumers and developers alike. Most recently their venture into the retail space that will roll out sometime this week is just another piece to the puzzle. A puzzle that for all intents and purposes enters into the headspace of every individual involved with gaming in one form or another. Which ultimately paints a picture of a company having a hand in the life cycle of many AAA and indie games. Possibly before release and most certainly after. Leaving the question, is Twitch the most influential entity in the gaming industry?
Decision making as consumers in relation to videogames is heavily driven by video content. Whether by design or the trending nature of the beast, Twitch has become the preview, review, walkthrough, advertisement and now retailer for many new and upcoming games. It is quite the staggering monopoly of gaming culture if you think about it. What initially started out as a past time for people passionate about games has transformed itself into a pretty large pillar in gaming consumerism. The 9.7 million daily active users on Twitch’s website is a large pool of people to possibly provide influence to purchase the games watched on streams. Granted of that number not everyone is an open wallet waiting to happen, but even a portion is enough to push sales and birth the next trending game. Case in point, the most recent shining example of this is Player Unknown Battlegrounds. Like plenty of games before it, Battlegrounds arguably made its way to the top Steams charts by way of Twitch and it’s stable of popular streamers. Many times an early look at games in alpha or beta is provided by gaming developers because they know the power that these streamers carry. Viewers get a chance to see these games in what is basically an in depth, long form preview. Watching everything that might not make it in B roll videos published by traditional gaming websites. This basically is the start of the cycle where viewers watch hours upon hours of a game, gathering the streamers opinion and forming their own based off of gameplay. That preview turns into a review when the game is available for sale as streamers continue to play. Creating a built in advertisement solely on the fact it’s now on the front page of Twitch because of popularity. Now viewers turn into consumers and with Twitchs newest buying feature they will be happy to make purchases easier. That’s a lot of control directly and indirectly of providing a product, informing customers, and pushing as well as conducting sales. Not a bad position to be in within the gaming ecosystem.
All in all I don’t have a problem with the way things stand with Twitch and gaming consumerism at this moment in time. What will be interesting to see is if Twitch as a retailer even works. In my eyes games surely will be able to be bought elsewhere for cheaper. I’m not sure providing a Twitch viewer emotes to use in chat for purchasing from them is going to be considered an acceptable justification for paying more for games. Even so, Twitch and it’s success is largely PC based. Continuing to see how it can be translated over to console will be interesting. Aside from the ability to stream from consoles, I feel as if Twitch isn’t as large of a factor. Surely there are plans to reach into that market share in a more substantial manner. Until then we will have to see if Twitch as a retailer even pans out. And if so, is Twitch the most influential company to gamings huge consumer base? Or are they riding their own trend on the pulse of the industry?