Earlier this year we brought you the story of Twitch, the video streaming platform that has transformed gaming into a spectator sport. YouTube has had its eye on the company for a while, and now a reported $1 billion acquisition is in the works.
The thing that many can’t seem to get their heads around is that there are consumers out there who want to watch other people playing games. But the numbers don’t lie; in February, The Daily Dot posted stats which indicated that Twitch receives more traffic during peak hours than giants like Hulu, Facebook and Tumblr.
“Companies like Facebook and Amazon don’t stream video, so it is important to take that context into account when thinking about these numbers,” says Patrick Howell O’Neill. “However, Amazon has a dedicated video streaming service, Valve offers massive game downloads and video, Hulu streams television and movies, and Pandora streams music. The recent study suggests that Twitch is stepping above them all in terms of peak traffic.”
Among the games attracting the most traffic on Twitch are League Of Legends, Call Of Duty, and Minecraft. And the games companies themselves are fans too. “Game developers and publishers have quickly adapted to Twitch as a way to interact with fans directly,” says Chelsea Stark at Mashable. “2K Games, Minecraft creators Mojang, Epic Games, Sony, League of Legends creator Riot Games and others have all used the platform to hold community events, stream announcements and show off new game footage.”
While the acquisition would yield a number of benefits for Twitch, primarily a wealth of resources and expertise within its new parent company, fans aren’t loving the idea. “Some in the gaming community are in panic mode at the thought of another beloved service being swallowed whole by a tech titan,” says TIME’s Jared Newman. “We did, after all, just go through this with Facebook and Oculus VR.” YouTube expert Lamarr Wilson agrees, and anticipates some “pushback” from long time Twitch users. There is also the possibility that, by acquiring another successful video sites, YouTube could create an unfair monopoly.