Why are Gaming Companies interested in Streamers?
It was the traditional press and video game websites which get the majority of the marketing machinery before streaming became popular. It is a natural evolution of the business and the platform. Video games are an audio-visual experience; audience respond better to materials that are in videos instead of texts. Those who consider themselves as hardcore players know how to use the Internet, so the digital platform is where they flock.
Earlier in the decade, Minecraft exploded and even until now it still one of the best-selling games in all platforms. Not only that, it continues to get releases in new platforms. This is of course by virtue of the game’s core design and Microsoft’s continual support for its $2 Billion investment. Minecraft is one of the most popular games featured in “Let’s Play” (LP). LPs are recordings of players playing an entire session of the game and uploading it on YouTube or any of the video hosting websites. These YouTube personalities that offer Minecraft LPs exploded in the scene, garnering large quantities in audience and was able to push products with free marketing.
The marketing departments of gaming companies now threw their focus on these personalities and showered them with early access for continual exposure to the audience. One would think it would stop there, but it did not. Apparently, there is a better format: livestreaming on Twitch. Now, marketing departments can gather feedback without resorting to reading through the toxicity in their own message boards. Companies can now have the knowledge of the trends in real-time.
Twitch inherently has a rabid fan base. If a product is mildly interesting, they would surely try it when one of their favorite Twitch streamers posts a session there. Unlike gameplay videos and video reviews of games on YouTube, streaming allows the audience to interact with the game by proxy. For example, a person interested in a game may visit a stream and ask the streamer to test this particular action. This can go both ways, if the streamers expose parts of the game that is not in line with the expectations of the audience, they may not buy it when they could have going in blind.
Admittedly, not all games favor streaming. Most of the games that are narrative-based or linear seem to fall out of favor on Twitch. Meanwhile, spectating e-Sports like MOBAs and competitive shooters are great in Twitch. Rogue-likes, city-building, RTS, grand strategies, open-world, and survival games seem to hold a footing in Twitch because of its non-repeating sessions. Every session from each streamer is different so it goes a long way before it starts going stale.
Live feedback and low-cost advertising are the ones that make game companies interested in streamers. These companies just hand copies of the game to the streamer for them to play it. Some streamers may require more than that but whatever the extra cost is still minute compared to a full-blown advertising blocks in video game press sites or in real life. Tiny Build’s CEO Alex Nichiporchik also confirmed that there is a correlation between game sales and streamers on their products. This might not necessarily ring true to bigger publishers and developers but there should be enough disruption for them to consider streaming for advertising. Spectating on competitive is also big that large media conglomerates ESPN and Turner are investing on it. It is not just the companies that see the value in streaming but also the media companies themselves after they got beat to the punch by individuals in their own living space.