I think we’re all pretty much in agreement that streaming in general, and Twitch in particular, are now pretty much accepted as part of the marketing plan for video games. Streaming spreads the word about new titles, can revive or promote older releases, as happened with Among Us, and, except for the occasional greedy lunkhead, is generally seen as a good thing by the industry.
Video game streaming and Twitch are here to stay, at least until something better comes along.
In fact, the whole thing has turned around a bit, as I understand it, to where hours streamed is as much a success metric for some titles as things like press coverage and Metacritic scores. People will go buy and play something that looks good on a stream. As leaders, follows, or bellwethers, depending on how you view them, a major streamer like Asmongold playing your game, or in the case of World of Warcraft, leaving your game, has an impact.
Which brings me to the web of Amazon, everybody’s favorite online retailer, and how they are boosting Lost Ark on Twitch.
Amazon, of course, owns Twitch, and has since late 2014. It has long since been integrated with Amazon Prime, their subscription service that gets you free shipping, their streaming service, games and bonuses on Prime Gaming, and other things I am probably forgetting. Didn’t we get a free jar of asparagus water at Whole Foods at one point?
Since Lost Ark launched, you’ve also had an opportunity to score some free in-game goodies. All you’ve had to do is watch some designated streamers on Twitch and you could have earned yourself a couple of pet packages, a paper hat, some battle items, and what looked to be a hoverboard.
Just four hours of viewing in a day gets you one of these fine items and, since I am always up for a freebie, I had Twitch up on one of the streamers showing Lost Ark with “drops enabled” for five days straight. Claimed them all, I did.
Naturally, in my case “viewing” meant getting the channel up in a browser tab with the sound off and putting it in the background while I did other things. I was out of the house playing Pokemon Go with my wife during the Johto event this past Saturday for one drop.
But that doesn’t matter. As far as Amazon and Twitch were concerned, I was logged in and watching Lost Ark for 4+ hours for five days straight. Me and thousands of others, if one looks at the channel numbers.
Not that any of this is particularly unusual. Other titles, such as World of Tanks, Rocket League, Smite, Fortnite, and even Crowfall have similar events going on right now. And other games let you earn channel points for watching them. I redeemed a nice GalNet Dominix SKIN with channel points by watching the official CCP EVE Online channel.
But it does at least “feel” a little different when Amazon Prime Gaming is using Amazon’s Twitch to get streamers to focus on Amazon Games and their latest title. I don’t think it is necessarily unethical in any way, but when the whole circle is Amazon you at least start going, “Hmmmm…”
And then there is the timing itself. This past weekend, the second week out for Lost Ark, also happened to be the opening weekend for Elden Ring, that game of the many 10 out of 10 reviews. The stated reason that Lost Ark had the event was that people missed it the first time out, so they were giving people a second chance. And that could be true. I missed out. I didn’t even know it was a thing until the second chance came around. But a suspicious mind will wonder still.
Elden Ring was popular on Twitch this weekend all the same. Asmongold spent a good deal of time streaming that rather than Lost Ark, as an example. But he has a huge dedicated following. He will get 30K viewers no matter what he streams most days. (And, as an aside, I really want him to try EVE Online, just to have a streamer with more people watching him than are actually playing the game.)
Other streamers however, are not that influential. I spent my time logged in and watching somebody with a couple thousand viewers who probably chose Lost Ark over Elden Ring or something else because a bunch of viewers, even AFK viewers, would boost their stats and their ad revenue, if they ran ads. The possibility no doubt influenced what they chose to stream, which gets us back to the question about who is leading and who is following when it comes to what gets streamed.
Anyway, a post without a point really. It just seemed worth noting. And I got my silly items for the game.
Meanwhile, I wonder if this past weekend will have an impact on my Twitch stats when that comes around with the new year.