Playing games all day and earn money for it? For many of us, this sounds like a dream from our youth, reminding us of those days when we were watching and cheering on professional gamers competing in tournaments. The eSport scene has made significant progress since then and still exerts a great fascination for its viewers; however, now there are more opportunities to earn your living while playing your favorite games. Needless to say, we are talking about new streaming platforms and in particular about Twitch, the probably most well-known streaming platform worldwide. With over 15 million daily active users and over 2.2 million streamers, the platform is the rising star among streaming services. But what makes Twitch so successful and what fascinates millions worldwide watching others play virtual games? And how does Twitch use Influencer Marketing and what are the plans for the future?
Burkhard Leimbrock, Commercial Director Europe has the answers to all these questions and a few extra insights for us in our interview. A few weeks back, we listened to his talk at the INREACH 2017 about gamers, live streaming and influencer monetization on Twitch and didn’t hesitate to ask him for an insight scoop afterward. We talked about streaming, influencers, the future of Twitch and Burkhard finally surprised us with the choice of his favorite streamer – so gear up for this and enjoy!
An impression of this year’s TwitchCon that took place from 20.-22. October in Long Beach, California. © Twitch
Burkhard, thank you for doing this interview with us. Could you introduce yourself to our readers and describe your tasks at Twitch?
I’ve been working in leading positions in the digital industry for 20 years, with companies like WPP, Google, Gannett, Vodafone or Axel Springer. At Twitch, I’m responsible for developing the business in continental Europe and have started building a team in Germany. At the same time, we are picking up speed in Scandinavia.
What do you think is the reason for streaming becoming so popular? What’s the appeal for viewers to watch others play online?
People enjoy watching others who are good or engaging at what they do if it involves a shared interest. The appeal of video games to a gamer is no different than the appeal of a cooking show to a foodie, a football talk show or game to a football fan, or watching celebrity poker because of the stars. Because watching live gaming content wasn’t popular until broadband became more widespread and enabled Twitch to exist, it seems like a novelty to people not raised in the gaming age. However, the reality is that it’s just another form of mainstream entertainment that is only strange to the older generation.
Big eSport events and streaming games are no longer an exclusively Asian phenomenon anymore.
The “Twitch Plays Pokémon” event turned out to become a social experiment – via Twitch chat, your community managed to play through the various Pokémon games as one big collective. They even set a Guinness world record for the most players in a single-player game. What does that say about the Twitch community and do you think there’ll be more events like this in the future?
We know through research that gamers are social by nature and Twitch Plays Pokemon was an event that illustrated this to the rest of the world, beyond just the gaming community. The success of Twitch is based on the appeal of watching content together because gamers would rather enjoy gaming content with friends and family, than alone. Twitch Plays Pokemon was not created by Twitch, it was the work of a member of the community. While we don’t plan many of these events, we will help promote cool things happening on Twitch since we celebrate innovation.
With the new office in Hamburg, Twitch expands its reach even further – what are your plans for Hamburg and Germany in general, how do you want to extend your services in the near future?
For Twitch, Germany is one of the most important markets worldwide, so it is our goal to expand our activities and grow our team here even further. Hamburg is Twitch’s headquarter in Germany. According to the initiative “Gamecity: Hamburg,” over 4.000 employees work in the gaming industry of the city. Also, many other international digital companies have their headquarters here. We also have an office in Berlin, to show our presence and find talents there; we employ AdSales employees and developers and will create new positions next year. Our goals are to find more streaming partners for Twitch, broaden our content and work with more brands that are interested in Twitch and our target audiences.
Niche games like chess go through a second Rennaissance on Twitch, as the partnership between Twitch and chess.com proves. © Twitch
Many of your streamers often upload longer videos over at YouTube; with YouTube Red and YouTube Gaming, more streaming options come into the market. How do you deal with this competition?
We are a community, not competitor focused service. This means that while we are aware of what other services are doing, the direction of our brand is influenced primarily by our users. Therefore, instead of presuming to know what our community wants or mirroring features that other brands roll out, we let our users tell us what they want. By letting them guide us, it ensures we are always heading in the right direction.
The streamers on your platform have an enormous influence when it comes to recommending games or advising against buying them. How do you deal with these powerful influencers, do you organize cooperations or promote successful streamers? What’s your stance towards Influencer Marketing in general?
We have a Partnership program that provides special attention to our top content creators, this includes giving them access to the industry’s most robust selection of monetization options. We also help connect brands with influencers for select campaigns on Twitch and are big fans of influencer marketing that is done in a transparent and authentic way. This is why the influencer-driven content that we coordinate with brands for advertising initiatives is clearly marked as sponsored content.
Streamers and fans alike identify with their platform and show their love through wearing Twitch shirts or hoodies. © Twitch
Many still think of Twitch as a gaming platform; meanwhile, you also offer “Twitch Creative“ for artists, who can stream themselves while they draw. Furthermore, at the INREACH 2017, you spoke about plans to upgrade the Twitch app and to give streamers the option to stream while they travel. Is Twitch going to expand into the travel and lifestyle fields?
Over the past two years, we have moved beyond gaming, based on areas of interest surfaced by our community. For example, we did a survey with our Partners and IRL – which is our vlogging category – was the number one most requested non-gaming category. The IRL category is currently being used for travel and lifestyle, including everything from fitness to beauty tip broadcasts.
Cosplaying, portraying game characters through outfit and behavior, stands between digital and physical reality and allows cosplayers to share their passion live and direct with others. © Twitch
Burkhard, thank you for the insights and I wish you great success with all your plans. For my last question, I would love to know who you follow on Twitch, who is your favorite streamer?
While I watch a large variety of streamers, one of the more unique creators that I enjoy is Helga Sofie Josefa aka Marmeladenoma. She reads fairy tales, tells stories from her childhood, and illustrates that Twitch is a great place to embrace one’s passions at any age.
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