Unless you’ve been living under a rock, anyone who is familiar with streaming website Twitch knows that there are rumours of a Google/YouTube acquisition for $1 billion. If you’re interested in the back story, you can read the Polygon report, but here I want to talk about my personal thoughts and how this might impact streamers.
Obviously, my channel on Twitch is relatively small, with only 150+ followers so far, as I’ve only been streaming there for a short time. However I am a “Turbo” user, meaning I pay monthly in order to receive certain benefits (such as no ads, custom colours in chat and a different set of emotes) and also subscribe to two streamers on a regular basis. I also have intentions of continuing to stream there more regularly myself, and while I doubt I’ll ever have the viewerbase of some of the people I love there, I still feel it has the potential to impact me as a viewer and streamer alike.
Firstly, there are positive sides to this acquisition assuming it goes through. For example, Google is notorious for having excellent server coverage across the globe, which is something Twitch currently, unfortunately, lacks. It’s no secret that their data centres struggle from time to time with the massive population of European users, not to mention an incredibly poor experience in Oceania. With a Google acquisition, could we expect to see increased stability and better service worldwide?
A lot of streamers are pretty concerned about the bid. YouTube has notoriously not been the most supportive of its content creators recently, making it frustrating for viewers to comment on videos, hassling creators into using their real names on videos (and repeatedly prompting them to do so if they say no), and various issues with copyright claims. If these kinds of issues come to Twitch, this would make the experience of streaming and watching streams extremely frustrating and not at all user-friendly.
However, with all that said, there are just as many streamers — including those with larger viewerbases — who don’t seem at all concerned, and are patiently awaiting more information. On the plus side, the reports explain that talks are still ongoing, and nothing is settled for sure just yet. Also, there are claims that part of the discussions will be on how independent Twitch can continue to operate if they are picked up by another company, which is great. There are plenty of companies out there, especially games companies, that have managed to retain their independence despite being acquired by a bigger company. I’ll withhold too much of my judgement until we get more information, as at least for the timebeing it’s still just a rumour. We’ll see how it goes!
Let me know in the comments below!
Valve recently announced the new Steam Tags, a system that allows gamers to tag their games or search for games by tags. Supposedly, it’s an impressive new way to find what you’re looking for, and to be fair its recommendations so far have been pretty good. For me, I’ve been recommended Indie, Sandbox, Platformer, RPG and Action, which to some extent is pretty accurate (though I don’t feel I’m much of a Platformer, they can be pretty cute and fun!)
It’s a pretty simple system; when you view the game in the store, there’ll be some tags that have already been applied to it visible on the right-hand side. You can expand upon these tags, or add your own, as well as agreeing with tags that gamers have already assigned to that particular game.
Some people have come out and condemned gamers for “trolling” by applying what they deem stupid tags to certain game titles, but I honestly don’t see this as a particularly bad thing. I think gamers should have the right to tag things how they see fit, within reason. If you can’t encourage a gamer to write a full review, at least getting them to assign a single word or short phrase to a game they loved or hated has the potential to be incredibly helpful to gamers looking for new games to play, or trying to decide what to avoid entirely.
And frankly? I find some of the “troll” tags funny. Here are some of my favourites I’ve found with a bit of browsing:
No prizes for guessing which game “walking simulator” brings to mind (psst, it’s DayZ, though I always called it Running Simulator). Does Steam Tags have the potential to be abused? Of course it does. But sometimes you just have to let the community run off and do its thing, and see what falls out of the tree when they’re done.