With our own Arlie Shaban streaming Power Up on Twitch this week, I thought I’d have a look at the Twitch landscape and peek into my crystal ball to guess at the future.
Power Up is currently still a very small fish in the Twitch ocean, with games like Counter Strike, Hearthstone, Dota 2 and League of Legends gobbling up the clear majority of viewers. The new big game in the Twitch ecosystem has been Player Unknown’s Battle Grounds, generally referred to as PUBG.
PUBG has exploded onto the twitch scene, and unlike a lot of new games, viewer numbers haven’t dropped off over time. It is now one of the few games that has a fixed position in the top 10 games being played on the Twitch platform, along with League of Legends, Counter Strike and Hearthstone.
So, what makes for a good Twitch game?
Well, firstly, there are many different levels of the platform, and as well as a game is designed, it’s almost impossible to predict the success of any single game on the platform. There has been a succession of games designed to be the new hotness on Twitch, and they have either failed to make an impact, or have burned bright and faded away into nothing.
It seems that getting the balance right is as much luck as judgement. Hearthstone, as has been admitted by Blizzard, was a fluke. They weren’t expecting it to be as big as it is, and in the early days, they didn’t know why it was! This doesn’t mean that you can’t improve the odds of a game making it big.
The keystone to any game making it on the streaming scene is quality and interesting gameplay. How that gameplay is used will determine the number of viewers who want to watch. One of the major reasons people watch is for the high skill being shown by a streamer playing a game. A lot of high level professional esports have a very lucrative income from streaming the game that they are known for playing professionally. The reason behind this success seems to be a combination of the streamer’s celebrity, and the high level of skill on display.
The other main driver to gaining viewer numbers is entertainment. While the majority of the entertainment comes from the streamer themselves, the game can provide props and content for them to work into their performance.
So, how does Power Up stack up to the other offerings available on Twitch? Well, on the skill front, as I have been discovering, Power Up has a skill ceiling much higher than it appears at first glance. The number of options I have available to me at any given time is staggering.
However, the current perception of Power Up doesn’t match up with the reality. Because of the extra elements in the game, and the video game styling, some “serious” poker players haven’t been willing to put the time in to see beyond the veneer and into the depth of the game itself.
What could be interesting is to see an esports type event put together to showcase the skill of the game and attract a bigger audience.
On the entertainment side, the power card animations are fantastic. While they do require a higher quality computer to run than the standard PokerStars client, this is not going to be an issue for a streamer. The ways these animations could be factored into a stream are many, and as yet unexplored. It could be very interesting for viewers to be able to play Power Card Bingo, so that when a streamer plays a card, it’s logged for each viewer. Link that to a reward program for the streamer (a pseudo currency for that stream, or a level system) and you have built in engagement. The options are endless.
It seems to me that there are options for Power Up to appeal to the Twitch Market.
We’ll have to see how it works out, but it is possible to make no mistakes, and still not succeed. Hopefully, Power Up can make the most of its positives, and make a big splash on Twitch.