Twitch: gamers watching gamers playing games

Dota 2 Tournament finals In the year 2000, being a product manager at Atari (formally know as Infogrames) I organized one of the first online game competitions in the Benelux with a real-life finale called ‘Gamer of the Year’. Thanks to the support of Clanbase we managed to start with an on-line competition amongst players of Unreal Tournament – one of the games in my portfolio. After the on-line pre-rounds, we held a grand finale in Antwerp, sponsored by Diesel and Red Bull, for the 64 best players in the Benelux. I never expected that e-sports would take off after that – and for a long time – it actually didn’t. Sure, there were a lot of tournaments going on on-line and offline (LAN-Parties) using games like Quake, Unreal Tournament, Counter Strike and later Call of Duty, but never on a global scale and with the financial support it deserved. Since 2013 however, this all changed. I guess it all accelerated thanks to  Twitch.tv founded in 2011.
Twitch is an online streaming video service where gamers can watch gamers playing games. To be honest I never saw the fun in that, but nowadays it is so popular that Twitch is in the Top 10 websites responsible for the most data traffic in the world, alongside Amazon, Facebook and Google… The first company – Amazon – bought Twitch recently for a little under ONE BILLION DOLLARS ! Can you imagine that a video streaming service, launched four years ago has generated so much interest in four years time that it is worth that much money?! How much is one billion dollars spread over four years of days or hours…? Well… it’s $ 694.444,- per day… Or a little under $ 30.000 per hour in the past four years. So Twitch is huge – and online gaming is huge. Games like Candy Crush (less hardcore than Call of Duty maybe), are being played by 50 million people on Facebook – and by estimate – another 50 million people play it on their mobile phones. A game like DOTA2 (more hardcode than Candy Crush 😉 is being played by one million gamers every day. Defense of the Alliance 2, originally a modification for Warcraft 3 is a favorite amongst gamers that participate in competitions. Why don’t you take a wild guess, how much prize money was available in 2015 during the finals of a DOTA2 competition in China. I will state the answer below – not to spoil your fun of guessing. The winning team ‘Evil Geniuses’ (from the USA) left the battle field with more than six million dollars to give you a feeling about the seriousness of playing games as e-sports athlete these days. Companies often ask if gaming is big – and how big it is. Well, if I tell you that the average football players in Europe earn less than three million if you play in the Premier League (UK) and a meagre €300.000 in The Netherlands… you might want to switch to playing digital games… The total prize money of the finals of The International 2015 was 18 million dollars. Apart from the money, the fanbase is so involved and committed that cinema’s organize live finals where gamers gather to view their heroes! Will that be the future of cinema’s…? Proving a theater for watching gamers playing games…? It just might…

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