Video gaming has always been a competitive sport. Arcade boxes earlier had their pixelated high score charts, and every kid wanted to be the one with the top scores in his neighborhood. With the internet explosion and the release of iconic first person shooter games like Doom and Counter Strike, players from all over the world began to come together. In 1997, one of the first e-sports organizations, Cyberathelete Professional League was established. Since then the gaming world has leaped forward to online gaming and streaming. Let us take a closer look at the phenomenon.
The Rise of Online Gaming and Streaming
In the past four decades, online gaming has become one of the world’s biggest entertainment industries. According to reports from PricewaterhouseCoopers, the global online gaming industry in 2010 was worth around $56 billion! This is bigger than both the magazine or the music industry and about two-thirds the film industry’s size. According to a 2011 report by Entertainment Software Association, the average age of a gamer in the United States is 37 and 42 percent of these gamers are female.
One of the biggest trends today, in live streaming is not music (as you might have previously assumed), but competitive gaming. e-sports today, attracts thousands of viewers. A number of sites today, catering specifically to gamers and their fans stream e-sport events. Several e-sport websites have exploded all over the internet as live webcasts take competitive video gaming to a completely new level, transforming it into a sport that is viewed by millions from one which was limited to just insiders.
Video Game Streaming: The Big Players
Among the big players in video game streaming today are Own3D.tv and TwitchTV. Own3D.tv began online video game streaming in 2010, and at present, the website gets over four million unique viewers a month for video game live streams. In March 2011, Electronic Sports League (ESL), the world’s largest gaming league, broadcasted the Intel Extreme Masters event, which is among the most popular gaming tournaments of the year, through Own3D. With $400,000 as prize money, the gaming tournament drew 75,000 simultaneous live viewers on single event days, while the overall audience reached several million gamers. June 2011 saw over 200,000 concurrent viewers watching a Dreamhack contest (which is based around League of Legends, another popular game) on Own3D, with about 250 GBps of traffic through the event.
And live video streaming vendor Justin.tv witnessed e-sports video streaming grow at such a rapid rate that they dedicated an entire website to it. In June 2011, they launched TwitchTV after video game streaming reached around 3.2million monthly unique views on its main website. TwitchTV now engages over 12 million unique viewers each month. Also it has had a steady month over month growth rate of 11 percent since it was launched. Besides that, TwitchTV has over 1,000 premium partners. It has also received over 80,000 downloads of its iPhone mobile app in less than a month of the app’s launch. Between October 10th and October 16th the website received massive traffic as can be seen from the following figures: