With PC gamers long having had multiple ways to capture and stream gaming footage it’s still taken a rather long time for streaming to become popular, but recently sites such as Twitch and Ustream have seen surges with the availability of capture devices such as the Elgato Game Capture HD.
The latest generation of consoles from Sony and Microsoft have both opted to try to make capturing and streaming easier with built-in options to capture screenshots and stream online. This means that everyone and their dog can now take to the internet and show off their ‘skillz’ or lack thereof in the game of their choice.
For me the most interesting part of this shift to streaming has been to see how people who have never had a chance to have an online presence have been able to gain an audience and share their opinions with everyone out there.
It’s not all roses though. There have been so many times I’ve jumped into someone’s stream on Twitch only to turn it off immediately when the streamer swears endlessly or just acts in a pretty irritating manner.
By giving anyone the ability to stream it does mean that there’s a larger pool of pretty terrible streams and streamers to sift through before you’re able to find one that suits your taste or isn’t too inoffensive to watch.
About two months ago I was watching a Battlefield 4 stream and the guy who was streaming was drunk and would continuously make explicit comments about his wife with her in the very same room. He was swearing all the time and as soon as anyone in the stream’s chat said something he didn’t like he would immediately ban them. I’ve got far better things to do with my time than watch someone making a fool of themselves on the internet.
There’s numerous cases of people using Playroom, a game from Sony for the PS4, to host their own live shows since the game captures an entire room on camera so it’s easy to set up and use to interact with viewers. It was a remarkably clever and fun way to use the PS4 to interact with viewers and even some of the Sony executives were pleasantly surprised. Fast forward to a short while later and almost every single Playroom stream now consists of stoners and drunks or people doing less than savoury things online to such an extent that Twitch banned Playroom streams. This just meant that every person who wanted to stream Playroom just moved over to Ustream which hasn’t bothered to ban any Playroom streams.
This sort of dilution of streaming also means that for people looking to get into streaming it will be much harder to get an audience since there are hundreds upon hundreds of streams for viewers to see and the odds of a random viewing ending up on your stream are almost close to zero.
If streaming is to be something that moves the gaming industry forward and something more than a mere fad it needs to start growing up and making it easier to discover and share streams and streamers that are doing their best to give viewers a fun and engaging experience. Only then will it be something that could bring in non-gamers and engage the community in a discussion worth taking part in.