Jan 16 2014 - 2:01 pm

Twitch dominated streaming in 2013, and here are the numbers to prove it

Twitch, one of the biggest live video streaming platforms on the Web, more than doubled in size over the last year according to new statistics released by the company today
Patrick Howell O'Neill
Dot Esports

Twitch, one of the biggest live video streaming platforms on the Web, more than doubled in size over the last year according to new statistics released by the company today.

Twitch has been a focal point of the global esports boom, providing both the technology and community hub for individuals and companies to build huge audiences. Facing growing competition from the likes of YouTube, Daily Motion, and now Major League Gaming, Twitch still enters 2014 as the industry leader.

The numbers tell the story: Last year, 45 million users watched 12 billion minutes of video on Twitch from six million total videos broadcast. That’s over a 100 percent increase in each of those metrics from 2012, when 20 million users watched six billion minutes from three million broadcasts.

The number of unique broadcasters has tripled from 300,000 to over 900,000 in the past year, while users are watching 106 minutes of footage per day, up from about 85 last year.

The most popular game broadcast on Twitch is League of Legends, easily the most popular esport in the world. As the game's year-long tournament, the League Championship Series, remained the most popular and lucrative esports competition in the world, League of Legends grew 258 percent in average monthly minutes watched.

League's gameplay cousin, Dota 2, comes in at second place in minutes watched. Just released out of beta last year, the game has already attracted major esports tournaments like DreamHack and seen a massive 508 percent growth in minutes watched.

Twitch scored one of its biggest coups this year with an integrated app in the latest generation of home gaming consoles, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Although the PlayStation 4 was released only in Nov. 2013, it already accounts for 20 percent of Twitch’s broadcasters and has generated 10 percent of Twitch’s content based on minutes broadcast.

Twitch’s rapid growth may also be its achilles heel.

“The biggest challenge that we face is to match our capacity to deliver video to the audience growth,” said Matthew DiPietro, Twitch’s vice president of marketing. “It’s not a small task. We have an entire team globe trotting, traveling the world building up better data centers.”

Twitch has, in fact, already encountered growing pains in Europe, where a large esports fanbase has long made vocal complaints about video lagtime and low framerates. The problems have been so serious that competitors, such as European-based Own3d, have been able to briefly challenge Twitch's dominance in the region. Own3d couldn’t pay its streamers and collapsed when a potential buyout by the video game streaming company Machinima fell through. But the potential for new European competition, run by more business-savvy competitors, is still there

Twitch is well aware of these problems, of course. After venture capitalists dropped $20 million  in series-c funding into Twitch in September 2013, company representatives suggested a big chunk of that change would go to fixing the its European problem.

“We just switched to a new video delivery system that allows for more effective buffering," said Ben Goldhaber, Twitch's director of content marketing. "That makes all the data centers more efficient. We’re not perfect in Europe but what we’ve seen from a tech standpoint and statistics is good.”

The same European users who had so many troubles last year are now watching Twitch for longer periods, at higher bitrates, and with less buffers than before, Goldhaber said.

“There’s tons of work still to do but it’s pretty clear things are better now.”

If 2013 was a year of global growth for Twitch, 2014 might be the year it battles with competitors. Major League Gaming and YouTube in particular are presenting tempting alternatives to big time streamers.

Big streamers will “make significantly more money” on MLG.tv, the company's streaming platform, than Twitch, Major League Gaming CEO Sundance DiGiovanni said. MLG.tv, which launched late last year, has so drastically increased MLG’s revenue already that the company is finally approaching profitability after 12 years.

“There are lots of things we do that you can’t duplicate,” Twitch’s DiPietro countered. “We’ve been doing live video for seven years. Our engineers—geniuses—have done incredible things. They’ve built up an infrastructure to deliver video to a massive global audience that no one has ever done. They’ve created a situation and platform that no one else really can.”

Goldhaber added, “Even the scalability of the [Twitch] chat system is mind boggling with how much data and tech goes into the backend."  Twitch streamers can sell subscriptions for various prices and then offer their own rewards like playtime or chat privileges. Options like that continue to give it an edge over competitors, Goldhaber said.

"Things like subscriptions, which we built because our partners asked for it, have been incredible. We are leveraging our partners to 100 percent sell themselves, to make money their own way. A lot of them have built up a massive recurring subscriber base. We’re just along for that ride.”

There’s one other weapon in Twitch’s arsenal that they warn not to underestimate: the community.

“The audience is on Twitch,” said DiPietro. “The people, the language, the community is on Twitch.

Imagine someone trying to create a competitor to Facebook in this day in age. Google couldn’t even do it. If you show up on some upstart social network and no one is there, you leave.

Still, Major League Gaming attracted millions of viewers in 2013. YouTube’s live streaming platform, once described as “cute” by Twitch CEO Emmett Shear, has rolled out to the public, with all the might of the world's largest Internet company behind it. Twitch is growing, but the video streaming industry is far from conquered.

More competition is "certainly on our radar," DiPetro continued. “The growth projection is clear to everyone. Lots of people are vying for the niche. Ultimately, competition is a good thing.”

You can read Twitch's full report below.

Twitch retrospective by Kevin Morris

Illustration by Jason Reed

Jan 23 2017 - 10:16 pm

Your friendly neighborhood void monster, Rek’sai, is getting a rework

Riot confirmed that it’s bringing Rek’sai back to her original design goals.
Aaron Mickunas
League of Legends Writer
Image via Riot Games

Rek’sai was originally intended to be an AD-heavy diver in League of Legends, but she turned into a tank. Riot plans to bring her back to form.

Do you remember when Rek’sai came out? Well, if you don’t remember or you’re a new player, let us remind you. When she came out, she built a ton of attack damage (AD) and, using a couple of kills to get a proper snowball rolling, she could blow-up nearly any target she wanted to.

This was because she was released to be an AD-diver, or a champion that is very good at getting to the carries in the back of a fight and dealing a ton of damage. The drawback (usually) is that a diver isn’t great at getting back out of a fight. Well, Rek’sai was much too powerful upon release in late 2014, so Riot had to nerf her considerably.

After several nerfs, it turned out that Rek’sai didn’t actually do much damage anymore. Instead, she became most useful for her ability to get to the carries and knock up them so damage-dealers could get to them more easily. Because of this, players realized that building her as a tank was much more effective. She dealt at least some damage, and she was able to live long enough to trudge to the back and knock-up as many enemies as possible.

Realizing that the community has now dubbed Rek’sai more useful for a different goal than she was originally intended for, Riot now intends to fix the problem.

A small update is on the way for Rek’sai—one that emphasizes her ability to dive but takes away her ability to tank, Riot announced yesterday. On the League message boards, Andre ‘Meddler’ van Roon, the lead champion designer, mentioned that the design team is looking to make an AD-centered build more rewarding for her and turn her knock-up into a single-target ability.

Riot tried the same thing with Ekko. He was released as an assassin, but after several nerfs to damage, he ended up being used as a tank for his area-of-effect stun, utility, and percent-health damage. In the assassin update of 6.22 back in November, Riot attempted to change him back by taking away the slow on his passive and increasing the AP-scaling on his abilities.

This seemed to work. Ekko’s most popular build on Champion.gg, a League statistics website, is now a high-damage assassin build. We can only hope that Rek’sai’s rework accomplishes the same goal without making her OP.

Jan 23 2017 - 8:57 am

Cloud9 and FlyQuest soar in NA LCS openers

After a weekend of exciting games, two teams remain undefeated.
Callum Leslie
Weekend Editor, Dot Esports.
Photo via Riot Games

Cloud9 and FlyQuest found themselves on top of the NA LCS heap after the first weekend of play of 2017.

Cloud9, who dispatched TSM on the opening day in convincing fashion, secured a second win over Team Dignitas on day three.

The match was a close affair, impressing many fans who were unsure what to make of the new Dignitas lineup. Cloud were able to record a 2-1 victory with Dignitas winning game two in just 33 minutes, showing that this may well be a match we see down the road in the post-season.

Dignitas did manage to pick up a win on their return to the LCS, knocking off Pheonix1 2-1.

Cloud9's former sister team, now known as FlyQuest, turned heads on their debut with a pair of strong wins. After beating EnVyUs on day two, they faced a team who have made four playoffs in a row—Team Liquid.

It looked like experience would count for Liquid after they took FlyQuest apart in game one, but the rookie side rallied hard. After levelling the series, FlyQuest took the third game in a lightning fast 25 minutes. In the final two games they kept Liquid to just six kills in each.

TSM rebounded from their loss to Cloud9 with a thrilling victory over Immortals. After two gruelling 50+ minute games, in which both teams topped 90,000 gold, the teams were locked at 1-1. Game three saw a much more assured TSM performance, cleaning up the objectives and taking a decisive win inside 40 minutes.

Counter Logic Gaming also opened their account for 2017, winning against EnVyUs 2-0. That loss and the loss to FlyQuest leaves EnVyUs struggling at the bottom of the table alongside Echo Fox, who were unsuccessful against both Pheonix1 and Immortals.