While I've never really been one for watching livestreams myself -- I tend to prefer to play games than watch them -- it's a phenomenon that is only growing in popularity in our ever more connected, more "social" world.
Part of the growth of livestreaming's popularity is due to a number of developers and publishers wholeheartedly embracing what is effectively free advertising for their products. Another part is due to high-profile events such as the recent Evo fighting game tournament, which attracted well over 100,000 concurrent viewers at its peak, as people who couldn't make it to the event themselves watched and cheered on their favorite competitors.
Livestreaming is useful for those who are yet to make their mind up about a game, too; or for those who want to show off their skills to the world, but don't want to (or aren't able to) convince their friends to participate in the same game. It's not unreasonable to assume that livestreaming is going to become a big part of "next-gen" experiences, whether they're on home computers or consoles.
The latest game to integrate livestreaming into its experience is Grinding Gears Games' free-to-play action RPG Path of Exile, which is currently undergoing open beta. The new versions of the Path of Exile client software make use of Twitch's software development kit that allows not only livestreaming of gameplay from within the game itself, but also integration with the Twitch service on the Web. The latter feature allows those browsing the Path of Exile website the opportunity to see at a glance which players are streaming, and to check out what they are up to. The livestreaming service is also intended to encourage participation in in-game events, since the leading streamer for a particular event will be shown on the relevant page.
Alongside the basic livestreaming and Web integration, Path of Exile's new Twitch functionality also allows players to stream webcam footage as well as gameplay and chat with Twitch viewers from within the game itself -- Twitch channel chat shows up in the game's regular chat window, rather than necessitating switching to another screen.
"We've witnessed first-hand the rapidly growing appeal of livestreaming gameplay, so it's great to see Grinding Gear Games integrate Twitch functionality into a compelling title like Path of Exile," says Matthew DiPietro, VP of marketing at Twitch. "Equally notable is they've embraced Twitch's ability to leverage game data to make leaderboards more dynamic so that players are able to know when their competition is streaming."
Find out more about Path of Exile and the new streaming functionality at the official website.