Online gaming is doing well – in the UK alone, 10.2 million people played online games in 2016, equating to 21% of the entire gaming population. Indeed, every gaming conference has some reference to online gaming, and the boost to the sub-genre is in part due to the advancements in technology. For example, live streaming technology has given a boost to the profile of online gaming. Quartz posits that by 2021, 82% of online activity will be some form of live streaming, from online gaming to video surveillance and webcams.
Live streaming involves the live playing of a game and the millions of people who watch the game being played. Much like the YouTube tutorials of playing classic games, live streaming involves the game being played in real time, and is often seen as a new version of sport for some. For example, live streaming platform Twitch has 42 million streamers every month.
The growth in eSports also helps increase the profile of live streaming. For example, Dota 2, an MMORPG that features teams of players battling it out for supremacy on custom maps, is also live-streamed in official competitions. The International, a major eSports competition, can result in a payout for winners of millions – and equates to more than the winners of the Super Bowl and World Series. Fans of the game can tune in to watch it played on a live stream. This is much like with Minecraft, whose servers attract a great deal of traffic just to watch others playing.
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Live streaming is also prevalent in iGaming – which in the UK accounts for 33% of all gambling revenue. Live streaming technology allows for games to be played in real time and for the dealer to deal cards or spin the wheel live right in front of players, which adds a casino atmosphere to online gaming. For example, 32Red online roulette games come in 12 variations, including the slightly different house odds of French roulette, plus four variants of live roulette, each of which offer an immersive experience with the dealer. Players can choose between Standard, French Gold, Auto Roulette and Immersive Roulette and even get a 320% new player bonus up to £160 when they try 32Red live games for the first time. By marrying the classic roulette game with the very modern live technology, there is a strong middle ground for both new and old fans. And it’s not just roulette which is concerned: for instance, Spin Casino offers live versions of poker games, from Texas Hold ‘Em to Caribbean stud poker.
Facebook Live has 360 million users, and 80% of consumers would rather watch a company’s live stream than read their blog. The real-time engagement helps bring the community factor, which is a massive bonus in the online gaming community, especially when the live leaderboards and winner’s results can help cultivate stronger connections and make the games more exciting. For example, Fairway Casino offers a live roulette tournament, with progressive jackpots for the players to interact over.
The next step for live streaming is virtual reality live streaming, which is already being rolled out as a possibility with Facebook. The VR app Spaces will allow users to broadcast live with modified avatars and receive reactions and comments live and visible in VR. This move is an attempt to connect the modernity of virtual reality equipment with traditional hardware, in an effort to bridge the gap. For online casino players, this could enable players to eventually see the dealer live in front of them as the technology progresses – and perhaps even incorporate mobile VR live streaming.
Facebook is a good barometer for the growing tech trends, as can be seen from its domination of Twitter-created Periscope, which acted as a live streaming platform. While live streaming can be used to enhance technologies, it can also be squandered and provide the kind of easy-to-watch content that people crave for. For example, the viral video of the woman with the Chewbacca mask was a live stream. Brands should navigate carefully the gulf between cheap comedy videos and greater uses for the technology.
Judging by how audiences communicate with brands, and how information is relayed, live streaming should definitely be the norm in terms of what brands are doing to attract new fans. The technology, given how much of a boost it has provided for many sectors, will no doubt continue to improve, and online gaming especially looks to reap the benefits of it.