Twitch announced this week that it’s adding a brand new phase of its business: Selling video games through its robust livestreaming and broadcasting platform. The long-time frontrunner in video game streaming, Twitch will be giving its users the ability to purchase games directly through the platform and will give its streaming partners a cut of the sales. It’s big news for Twitch influencers, but its effects could also reverberate through the entire livestreaming and influencer marketing landscape.
Expected to roll out this spring, the new feature will make purchasing games and in-game items simple by featuring buying functionality on channel pages, and will also give users free Twitch Crates with things like chat badges and Bits (Twitch currency) for cheering. It marks something of a new phase for Twitch, opening up another way for it to monetize its powerful platform. It promises to be good for Twitch partners, too, as they’ll get 5% of the sales from games purchased through their channel pages. Developers behind the games will get 70%.
“Many of our streamers want to make a living doing what they love,” said Matt McCloskey, VP of Commerce at Twitch. “To help them, we’re enabling game developers to sell game content at the exact time and place their communities are gathered to watch, which in turn lets streamers earn money from games sold on their channels.” Just earlier last month, YouTube rolled its new monetized livestream feature “Super Chat” out to YouTubers with over 10K subscribers.
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Currently, Twitch’s Partner Program has over 17,000 members, who can monetize their streams through a share of advertising revenue, paid channel subscribers, and through Twitch’s TeeSpring Program, which allows streamers to create and sell merchandise.
The gaming community was one of the first to adopt livestreaming en masse, and this development from Twitch is evidence of a degree of maturation in the livestreaming and gaming markets. Recognizing the power of influencers on Twitch, publishers are going to be able to capture and convert audiences into customers in a brand new way.
For Twitch influencers, this is going to open up a new revenue stream, but will also strengthen their partnerships with Twitch and with individual publishers. For publishers, it presents an opportunity to fully grasp and capitalize upon the influence of creators and streamers on Twitch. There will be demonstrable metrics that illustrate the power of Twitch influencers, which may, in turn, lead to new types of sponsorships, partnerships, and marketing opportunities through Twitch.
“The Twitch community is a key part of everything we do, from getting the word out about a game we’re launching to maintaining an ongoing dialog with our fans,” said Steve Allison, SVP of Publishing for Telltale Games. “By allowing viewers to help support their favorite streamer just by buying a game on Twitch, we’re able to help strengthen the community that has done so much for us.”
It’s important to note that though this is happening on Twitch now, it speaks to a larger trend in influencer marketing. As influencer marketing grows in strength and supplants some traditional marketing efforts, brands and advertisers are finding new ways to reach audiences through voices and personalities that those audiences seek out and trust. This move by Twitch signals a clear intention to leverage the strength of the livestreaming market to drive video game sales, but it won’t be the last place we see a move toward more integrated buying and selling through platforms.
Twitch has been something of a trailblazer, pushing livestreaming forward, particularly in the gaming space. It stands to reason that Twitch would be one of the first livestreaming platforms to make the move into integrated buying and selling. And though it’s impossible to say where we might see something like this arrive next, the eventual arrival of features like this on more platforms for more products seems all but inevitable.