The Case For Why Stadia (Not Mixer) Is Twitch’s Biggest Threat

There’s plenty of buzz and skepticism surrounding Google’s upcoming launch of Stadia.

But there hasn’t been much discussion inside the streaming community. Right now, Twitch sits comfortably in control of the market. But Stadia could shake that up starting at the end of this year.

In their initial keynote Google emphasized how Stadia will impact YouTube and gaming content creators. But this has been overshadowed by discussion on if Google’s game streaming service can work at scale to be the console killer.

So let’s dive in and see what Stadia brings to the table and why streamers should be paying attention to this launch.

The TL;DR:

  • Google confirmed that one of Stadia’s goal is to push YouTube’s market share of gaming content.
  • YouTube is currently the #2 platform by a large margin. They are gaining ground on Twitch for both streamer and viewer market share each quarter.
  • More Data. This will allow developers to reach more gamers. They will also be able to reward content creators for being advocates of their games. Meaning more money for streamers (a possible Twitch Prime competitor).
  • YouTube’s content discovery algorithm solves a problem that Twitch needs to solve. Small-to-mid sized streamers might switch if they feel they can get noticed faster.
  • Stadia will introduce new tools and features for streamers. It will allow them to create and share unique content to grow their audience.
  • YouTube can capture the growing “new streamer” market by reducing starting costs and lowering the barrier of entry.

What does Stadia have to do with Twitch Streamers?

If you don’t know anything about Stadia yet, it’s Google’s cloud gaming service. Gamers will be able to open up a chrome tab on any computer, laptop, smart tv’s and even smartphones, and play Triple-A development games. If you want to know more about it you should check out this complete run down. Or check out the full keynote here.

Stadia was created with YouTube and content creators in mind too.

Ryan Wyatt, Global Head of Gaming & VR at Youtube, says that they are focused on empowering creators to bridge the gap between content and viewer.

“Stadia is focused on empowering both creators and viewers to achieve new heights by breaking barriers of content capture and creating unique ways to engage with and grow a creators audience.

He goes on to say:

“Established creators will have new ways to engage and monetize on YouTube with Stadia features. And with aspiring creators we’re going to break down the barrier of entry in capturing content by giving you the ability to highlight, live stream, and capture directly from stadia.” (Emphasis mine)

MatPat, a creator himself who runs the popular channel Game Theorists (with 7.9M subscribers), shared his perspective too:

“I was floored with the impact that [Stadia] could have, not just for gamers, but also creators. Stadia not only empowers me to easily create and share my work, but it also unlocks completely new ways for me to build a stronger bond with my audience.

This makes it clear that Stadia is a two multi-pronged approach for Google. They’ve built in tools and features to help streamers and content creators do what they do best. And by doing that they hope to capture more of Twitch’s market share.

YouTube’s Current Market Share

Even with all the buzz about Mixer picking up Ninja, YouTube is still the #2 competitor in the game streaming world. And they’re slowly catching up to Twitch each quarter.

According to a report by Streamlabs and Newzoo, YouTube live gaming viewership rose to 24% percent of Twitch’s viewership in 2019’s first quarter. Mixer is a distant third with only 3% of Twitch’s viewership.

It’s also a favorable place to stream for small streamers as it’s less saturated. The average viewer per stream is 52.2 on Youtube compared to Twitch at 26.1.

Twitch has the lionshare of viewers and streamers. It’s not even close right now. But YouTube is in the game and gaining market share.

YouTube’s Algorithm and Twitch’s Discoverability Problem

Content discovery is baked into YouTube’s platform.

This is a challenge that Twitch is still trying to figure out. They are attempting to do it now with suggested channels. But it still only scratches the surface of the problem.

Twitch has no algorithm to gauge quality of content beyond viewer count. Their only gauge for interests seems to be games that a viewer tunes into. That makes it particularly difficult to suggest new relevant streams.

Meanwhile, Twitch streamers even leverage YouTube’s discoverability with their recorded content. It’s one of the best ways to grow your audience.

And that’s why a large amount of content that gets streamed on Twitch ends up on YouTube. In 2018 YouTube had over 50 Billion hours of gaming content watched on their platform.

Imagine having that same algorithm working for you while you were live. Or while watching one of your YouTube videos an alert popped up that mentioned you were live.

Plug Stadia into YouTube’s algorithm and you have a natural way for streamers to get more exposure. Viewers never run out of great content and increase their time on the platform. It’s a win win.

Monetization, Data, and Streamer Growth

Twitch gives a minimal amount of data to streamers. That makes it hard to make analytical based decisions.

  • Where are viewers coming from?
  • How many viewers left when I switched games?
  • How many more viewers did I get with my catchy title?
  • How long does the average viewer watch?
  • What time of day? What part of the stream?

The answers to these questions would help a streamer grow. And you can answer a lot of these questions from data that YouTube already gives it’s creators.

But something that goes under the radar for the casual observer is the data developers will have access to.

Having a “click to play” button now gives a trackable source to a game developer.

It will tell them:

  • Exactly where their game gets purchased.
  • Who or what is responsible for an influx of players.
  • Or even where their most valuable customers are coming from.

This is a double edged sword. With this data Stadia will have no problem attracting developers attention. And now developers will be armed with the ability to reward advocates of their game.

Developers will know what content, channels, influencers, or events are responsible for their influx of sales or users.

They can use this data to run targeted ad campaigns, or work out sponsorship deals. Being able to attribute the sales to a platform makes it easier to justify a marketing budget.

In the end it means more potential money in the pocket of creators.

If you were wondering how YouTube could compete with Twitch Prime, this is one of the ways. Creators could monetize their channel by promoting the games they play. If someone watching purchase the game (through their Stadia link!) the creators gets a percentage of the sale.

It’s an edge that no other streaming platform could compete with.

Features for streamers to connect with the audience

Merging the gaming platform with a content platform allows for unique audience collaboration. Crowd Play was the first tool announced. It let’s viewers queue up and join the games of streamers.

We’ve seen the effect of streamer and audience collaboration already. One notable example was CDNThe3rd’s creative content with H1z1. Allowing streamers to have private servers gave him the opportunity to create custom game modes for his audience to enjoy.

Here’s some quick highlights of the content he was able to create:

This is all unique content that showcases his creativity. It also allowed his audience to interact with him on a new level. Passive viewers also win by getting new and interesting content to tune into.

Having tools like this built into Stadia unlocks the ability for creators to make content that is more interesting to share. In return viewers continue to come back for the fresh content, and the streamer can grow his audience.

Shared Game States

Another one of those tools is Stadia’s Game State sharing. You can save “instances” in a game where other players can play the exact scenario you saved. You save the instance and it creates a link that you can share. When someone clicks that link they’ll be inserted into the same instance. They’ll experience the exact scenario you just encountered or created. (Backseat gamers can finally put up or shut up!)

Creators will no longer be restricted to sharing only video based content. We’ll see a ton of marketing creativity as creators grow their brands by creating in-game content for gamers to interact with.

Devin Nash (a streamer, and seasoned executive in the gaming industry as former CEO of Counter Logic Gaming) has a passionate view of what Stadia’s features can do for gaming and content creation:

“The streaming capability and the way that’s going to plug into YouTube is going to have enormous implications for how the future of gaming is going to evolve. Google is primed right now to take on everybody in terms of streaming and content generation.” He goes on in the video that he’s interested to see how Amazon and Twitch to figure out how to respond.

New Streamer’s Reduced Barrier of Entry

A big hurdle for a start-up streamer is having the budget for the hardware needed to stream.

For demanding PC games you need a powerful rig just to play the game under good settings. Then it takes extra computing power to capture the content and stream it. And if you want a high quality stream (1080p, 60fps) you’re most likely looking at a dual PC setup. This can get pricey real fast.

Of course, you could do this from a console. But the quality difference is noticeable immediately. And it doesn’t compare to what someone with a PC can accomplish with any broadcasting software.

Stadia immediately reduces the need for pricey hardware. The servers will handle all the game’s processing.

But taking it one step further, you could push all of the stream processing over to the Stadia servers as well. This would reduce the need to only streaming a webcam, as Philip Thomas mentions in his article. Which is something most modern computers can handle with ease.

They’ve hinted at this capability. But Google hasn’t given full details to what their plans are just yet. If this is the direction they are headed, it’s something that Twitch can’t compete with. It will set Google up to have the best chance at capturing the “new streamer” market.

They’ve already proven that this strategy will work. Mobile streamers are most likely to choose YouTube as their platform. That’s most likely because of an easy-to-use broadcast button built into the apps, as discussed in this Newzoo report.

If reducing the friction to start streaming is what lead mobile streamers to choosing YouTube over Twitch, then they already have a winning formula for Stadia.

What YouTube Has To Get Right

Stadia comes with a lot of tools and features that can pull attention away from Twitch.

But one glaring problem is the current state of their platform. It’s the first complaint you’ll hear from streamers when bringing up YouTube as a streaming platform. It leaves a lot to be desired when compared to the features of Twitch and Mixer. Which is why it’s still viewed as static content platform in the streaming community.

There will be some resistance in the streaming community until this changes. But even with this perception, YouTube is still gaining ground on Twitch’s market share for streamers.

If Stadia helps shift market share it wouldn’t be surprising to see upgrades rolling out. You’d expect new tools and features for streamers. But until that happens, we’ll have to wait and see if it’s something they can pull off.

If they don’t decide to address it, it could keep streamers on the fence. Their perception of the platform could be enough to keep them where they are comfortable.

Even with all the upgrades and features with Stadia mentioned in this article. It’s not easy getting someone to uproot. YouTube will have to reduce friction and emulate what the audience loves in a platform.

Final Thoughts

There’s a reason why Twitch is at the top commanding the market share currently. They’ve built a great platform that both streamers and viewers love to use.

However, there are lingering issues that their users want to see fixed. They’ve been slow to the punch at addressing these up until now. With Stadia on the horizon it will be interesting to see how Twitch reacts.

At the very least, it will be an exciting end of 2019 and 2020 for the streaming industry.

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