To those on the outside, livestreaming games might seem like a niche curiosity at best. While it certainly started this way when the main game streaming service Twitch first launched back in 2011, today’s game streaming market is a powerful and growing force. Taking many different routes depending on the host and audience, the concept is bold, diverse, and constantly reaching out into new horizons.
The success of game livestreaming might seem unusual to outsiders, but its popularity becomes obvious when adopting the right point of view. In essence, game livestreaming is a way to recapture the hanging-out-and-playing-games setting that many of us grew up with. The decline of couch multiplayer might have put a dent in our ability to engage this way initially, but livestreaming eventually appeared to pick up the slack.
This basis of spending time around like-minded people served as a strong foundation, upon which streamers could then branch out. Some streamers choose to vary their games, relying on their personality to keep viewers interested. Alternatively, some streamers chose to focus on specific games, using their expertise to offer insight into strategies and tactics.
Developing out of this need to push the envelope came ideas outside of the strict video gaming wheelhouse. A quick look at Twitch shows that the Just Chatting category is a strong offshoot of the streaming ideal, bringing in hundreds of thousands of simultaneous viewers. Somewhat more esoteric, though still bringing in more viewers than many modern video games, is the concept of iGaming streaming. With casino games so popular on the global scale, their arrival in streaming is natural, though how far they’ve traveled is not a development many would have predicted.
How Big Is the Livestreaming Industry?
According to the earliest stats available, by the time 2012 rolled around Twitch experienced an average of 102,000 concurrent users. By 2016 this had risen to 603,000, with growth accelerating to the current point, where it experiences 2.94 million concurrent watchers. Boasting over 6 million viewers at its peak on June 11, 2020, Twitch and related but less well-known programs are still far from reaching their eventual plateau.
Predicted to be worth $3.5 billion by 2025, video game streaming has reshaped the way we approach games, and its effects are only going to become more pronounced. Today, hardware and software that caters to streamers are extremely popular, with bundles for starters being enormously popular in computer stores online and off. Even the games themselves get in on the action, with references to streamers finding their way into titles like Doom Eternal and Borderlands 3.
What Are the Most Popular Casino Livestreamed Games?
At the time of this article, poker iGaming streaming had more than 27,000 viewers on Twitch, more than Overwatch Valheim, and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. While not quite at poker’s level, slots also perform well here, with more than 10,000 simultaneous viewers. Even the relatively new phenomenon of virtual casino games finds a successful placement in the overall streaming environment, with 1,500 people watching.
Though live games might be the youngest online, they could also represent the highest potential in casino livestreamed games. For an illustration of this, consider a modern service like online blackjack in Canada. Here, traditional titles like Super Stakes and Multihand Blackjack remain extremely popular, but they don’t quite gel as well with streaming as live titles do. Games like Live 888 Start and 888 Hotseat include physical dealers which, when combined with physical streamers, creates two sides of a perfect streaming fit.
Live titles were developed from the get-go to lean on the idea of crafting an experience closer to what players would feel in a physical casino. Likewise, game live-streaming also relies on creating a more physically appreciable feel to viewers at home than what recorded gameplay offers. Together, both parts of this equation make it seem like a player is physically in a casino, while they hang out with viewers and openly ponder their strategies. In other words, this form of casino streaming goes a step further than most, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see this carry it into higher levels of future success.
The Next Generation of iGaming Livestreaming
With iGaming live streaming still growing by the week, there are some questions as to how far it could go. Much of this ties into the uncertainty of future tech, which has wavered in its popularity and adoption by the public. Some of these, if properly leveraged, could prove immensely influential if integrated in the right way.
The most obvious example of yet untapped live streaming territory could be found with virtual and augmented reality technology. Though this tech already exists in livestreaming form to some degree, it’s still well off of achieving its full potential. VR, for example, could be adapted in many ways beyond how it is currently involved in online casino gaming.
A few titles like Gonzo’s Quest and Starburst VR already use virtual reality in their displays, but these don’t translate especially well to a spectator-type experience. When playing these games, viewers are given two screens, one which shows the player and one which shows what the player sees. It’s interesting, sure, but going a step beyond into a more cooperative streaming fit is perhaps better suited to AR.
With augmented reality, it could be possible to more seamlessly fuse players and the games they stream into a single cohesive whole. For more standard games, this could include superimposing the player over a virtual table of blackjack, or at a seat as they spin some slots. It’s again live casino titles, however, that show the most promise. With the right setup and some software updates, it would be theoretically possible to allow both streamed dealers and players to exist in the same digital space. This would raise the realism of the experience to an entirely new level, especially if multiple players were involved.
In 2021, the game streaming and iGaming markets are the biggest they’ve ever been. For both casual and professional players, audiences have shown their interest, making additional growth just a matter of time. Whether doing traditional game streams or facing the future with AR and VR tech, the established success of iGaming streaming isn’t going anywhere. The only real questions are how large this part of streaming could become in the future, and if online streaming could affect iGaming as it has video games.