Game spectatorship: Ecosystem Twitch
During my ongoing literature review I often discover interesting facts about things I’ve never thought about. Sometimes I can connect these facts with my own observations: The result is mostly a completely new idea why things are as they are. Maybe these ideas are new to you, too. Therefore I’ll share my new science based knowledge with you!
This week: This is the third part of the video game / e-sport spectator series. Last week, two main ways of spectating were discovered for the Pupil and the Interested: Watching over the player’s shoulder and watching recorded videos. Before I can focus on these two methods, I have to present and analyze an important video gameplay streaming platform at first. In this episode, I’ll focus on Twitch, a video gameplay streaming platform, which can also be used for a world wide „watching over the player’s shoulder“.
Normally, watching over the player’s shoulder can be almost seen as a face-to-face interaction. The player and the spectator are physically in the same room and the spectator is watching the player’s gameplay. However, this concept is limited to only a few persons at the same time. On the one hand, only few persons can assemble around a player at the same time. On the other hand, the spectators are limited by the distance: Visiting a friend playing a particular game in the neighborhood works well. Visiting a player on the other side of the world might work as well, but the travel costs would be quite high. Considering this, watching over the player’s shoulder has a disadvantage for the Pupil, because this spectator persona likes to watch the gameplay of expert players, who are scattered over the whole world.
By now, there exists another method of watching over the player’s shoulder: personal live streams using the Twitch.tv platform. Watching these streams „is becoming a new entertainment on its own„: There’s already a new web community evolving around the live streams of video games .
Twitch allows players to broadcast their own gameplay all over the world by providing a platform to create an unique player channel. This cannel is the connection between the performing player and their audience. On the one hand, players can comment the own gameplay using a microphone or use a webcam to show themselves playing. Spectators watching a player’s channel do have the opportunity to use the implemented chat function to communicate with the player . Taking this into consideration, Twitch becomes the virtual way of watching over the player’s shoulder. Additionally, distance and space problems are solved.
Twitch has created a new business ecosystem  in this process. Twitch, as a provider of a broadcasting platform, can be defined as the keystone of the business ecosystem. Keystones are crucial for the development of an ecosystem. They try to improve the health and the productivity of their ecosystem by providing a common set of assets . For that purpose, Twitch tries to improve and simplify the streaming of video games by providing a common video streaming platform. Broadcasters using Twitch can be defined as niche players . Niche players try to differentiate from other niche players by offering unique content in the same ecosystem. In the case of video game broadcasting, they try to develop an unique gameplay to attract the attention of the the Twitch viewers.
The specific characteristic of a business ecosystem is the interdependency of all the players in a particular system. The keystone is winning, if it’s leveraging the niche creation. Niche players are winning, if the keystone is providing a healthy and well developed environment. In the case of Twitch as a keystone, Twitch is winning, if enough video game players are using Twitch to broadcast their gameplay. Video game players are winning, if they do have a platform to share their gameplay with others.
However, Twitch doesn’t provide this service for free. As a business, Twitch wants to generate revenue. By providing the broadcasting platform, Twitch benefits from the attention of viewers drawn by the performing video game players. Twitch uses this attention to allow another niche player to evolve: advertisers.
„Twitch offers a full suite of ad products including high impact frontpage takeovers and in-stream video advertising, as well as turnkey, custom solutions.“  Through providing a streaming platform, Twitch allows every video game player to broadcast their gameplay for free. The easy way of sharing the own gameplay experience with the whole world attracts a lot of video game players, who start streaming their gameplay. The streamed gameplay attracts spectators. Just by providing the streaming platform, Twitch reaches, according to internal analytics, over 34 million unique visitors . This attention is highly valuable for advertisers, who pay for the service of placing advertisement. Therefore, Twitch’s business strategy can be called „charge third parties“ .
Consequently, video game players who stream on a regular basis are crucial for Twitch’s business strategy. In order to keep these video game players active on Twitch, a partner program was created: „As a Twitch Partner, you earn a share of the revenue generated from the videos you broadcast. We take care of everything: you just collect a check.“ 
To wrap things up, the interest of the gaming video community in spectating other’s gameplay has created a healthy ecobusiness system. The friendly coexistence is beneficial for every player in this system.
Additionally, Twitch allows to rewatch broadcasted streams and is also used for broadcasting tournaments from all over the world. Twitch combines the different methods of spectatorship in one platform.
 Kaytoue, Mehdi; Silva, Arlei; Cerf, Loïc; Meira, Wagner Jr.; Raïssi, Chedy (2012): Watch me playing, i am a professional: a first study on video game live streaming, in: Proceedings of the 21st international conference companion on World Wide Web, pp. 1181 – 1188.
 Iansiti, Marco; Levien, Roy (2004): Strategy as Ecology, in: Harvard Business Review, 82 (3), pp. 68 – 78.
 Twich.tv (2013a), twitch.tv/p/advertise, retrieved on 2013/06/01.
 Bryce, David J.; Dyer, Jeffrey H.; Hatch, Nile W. (2011): Competing Against Free, in: Harvard Business Review, 89 (6), pp. 104 – 111.
 Twitch.tv (2013b), twitch.tv/p/partners, retrieved on 2013/06/01.