So hot on the heels of my last post about the viability of streaming for the games industry in which I remarked on the popularity of Twitch it has now been rumored that YouTube is looking to buy Twitch for a cool $1 billion.
This shouldn’t have actually com as much of a surprise to anyone who has followed YouTube’s belated attempts to enter the game streaming market and seen how they’ve failed to get anywhere close to Twitch’s popularity. Twitch itself has also struggled to scale to with its phenomenal growth which has led to poor stream quality and chat delays for end users.
So on the face of it this almost seems like a no-brainer for Twitch right? Google’s massive server farm that backs YouTube should make the streaming and viewing experience a hundred times better for us as users and allow the guys at Twitch to be able to meet the growing need of their users.
The problem for some people though is that Google has a habit of redesigning / revamping their services despite community protests and usually ends up making their products worse to use both as creators and end users. YouTube is also notorious for having to use draconian techniques to enforce copyright claims which almost always favour the claimant regardless of whether or not the claim is actually valid. So for instance you’ll see music artists who have copyright strikes on videos they upload of their very own material by third parties who are supposedly acting on their behalf.
Google is also a behemoth in terms of the internet and any interaction with users or feedback to the community is kept to a minimum. That’s one of the benefits of being a smaller company such as Twitch, you can take the time to interact directly with your users and foster a good sense of community that helps your site grow. Whether or not that will be the case with Twitch depends of exactly how independent from Google they will remain if / when they are acquired.
Probably the biggest take away for me from this story is that Twitch is at a crossroads of sorts. They need to balance their desire to grow against the desire of their users to remain a unique and independent community. Whether Google starts changing Twitch to fall more in line with YouTube’s offerings or whether they leave it be and let the community dictate the direction Twitch moves will only be something that time will tell. Hopefully whatever the result of Google’s Twitch acquisition it will be the streamers and viewers who come out on top with a more professional and reliable platform.