How Twitch became the 'cultural centre of gaming in APAC'
In 2020, Twitch Rivals hosted more than 100 event days across a diverse range of game titles and genres, featuring new formats, interactive extensions, and millions of dollars in prize money. The Drum catches up with Twitch on how it plans to continue this growth in APAC.
Twitch grew massively in 2020, with over 26 million channels going live alone and that growth has not stopped in 2021, as every month this year thus far has surpassed any months in 2020 or prior.
On average, there are now more than 2.5m people tuning in to Twitch at any given time. This is despite typical esports programming being affected as the Covid-19 pandemic caused many events to be postponed.
Robbie Lim, head of business development in the Asia Pacific for Twitch, says the Amazon-owned platform has continued to innovate and seen a corresponding increase that has helped drive Twitch viewership growth, including fan appetites for Twitch-owned and operated esports programs like Twitch Rivals.
“We believe Twitch has emerged as the cultural centre of gaming in APAC, and our strategy is to work with publishers to enable streamers and viewers to experience gaming content in interactive and innovative ways,” he explains
“For instance, drops on Twitch are unique moments when viewers can win in-game items by interacting on stream. Rivals are also unique because Twitch enables top streamers to go head-to-head in new competitive formats. Our community loves these moments when we work with publishers to bring unique content to Twitch.”
Twitch has tapped former One Esports senior marketing director Felicia Lim as its new head of games in APAC to cope with this growth. Felicia Lim will oversee Twitch’s strategy for gaming in APAC, manage the platform’s partnerships and relationships with APAC publishers, and work with publishers on Rivals.
Lim explains that Twitch has a full roadmap to continue to make the platform the best place to stream and view gaming content, and Felicia Lim will lead the overall strategy and effort at Twitch.
“Felicia brings more than 15 years of experience working across publishers in PC, console, and mobile gaming and esports, and she’s helped launch a number of the most iconic games and esports in the region,” Lim says.
“During this time in the industry, she has not only cultivated relationships that she will bring to bear as Twitch’s head of gaming in APAC, but also a deep understanding of how the industry works, as well as how to expand Twitch’s role within the industry.”
Lim adds: “Bringing Felicia to Twitch will help to supercharge conversations with publishers, and will expand Twitch’s abilities to bring the titles and content that streamers and fans want to see, to Twitch.”
Twitch partnerships with publishers
Felicia Lim joins Twitch at a time when Twitch is continuing to innovate to create new ways for publishers to partner with Twitch and help their titles reach more fans.
An increasing number of publishers are also choosing to launch their game primarily through Twitch, says Robbie Lim, and he claims the platform has seen lots of traction for two products that bring unique experiences to gaming like Drops and Versus.
Drops are in-game rewards that streamers can give to viewers tuning in to their streams. Game publishers are using drops to generate hype and awareness for their new esports titles, as viewers tuning into their favorite streamers can win drops while watching the streamers play the new titles.
Versus is Twitch’s newest esports feature and is an end-to-end suite of competition tools for organizers, players, and viewers. Competition organizers can quickly and easily create, manage, and stream competitions with their communities, all directly integrated into Twitch.
“We have already invited game publishers like Ubisoft and Blizzard, along with many other members of the ecosystem. Moving forward, we’re looking to partner with any publishers that are interested in building their communities on Twitch,” explains Robbie Lim.
“In 2021, we have already increased the number of publishers we support by twofold in the region, and we are starting to bring significantly more local content to APAC. This reflects both APAC publishers targeting APAC but also international publishers releasing content specifically for the APAC community.”
He adds: “We have the tools to make these content partnerships fruitful for publishers, and help them to grow their audiences.”
What about gaming creators?
Expanding on Twitch Rivals, which is an all-star clash of Twitch creators that keeps the esports passion alive with regular competitions, Robbie Lim says it is an excellent opportunity for creators to come together and compete in some of the biggest and most exciting games on Twitch while battling it out for large prize pools.
More importantly, he points out Twitch Rivals provides creators with a platform that not only allows them to showcase their gaming prowess and strengths but enables them to gain exposure on a regional- and global-wide level, thereby growing their reach and attracting new viewers.
“We have seen an interest from viewers in personality-led content, and Twitch Rivals gives viewers exactly that, with their favorite Twitch creators, spanning a range of game titles and genres,” explains Robbie Lim.
“Twitch Rivals sits squarely at the intersection of entertainment and competition and offers something fundamentally different from other esports leagues and tournaments. Fans want to watch, and Twitch Rivals is helping to drive Twitch viewership growth accordingly.”
Twitch Rivals is not tied to a single game title and will continue to hop on new trends and play new games, with the personalities that fans want to see, leading the way.
Twitch has already hosted Rivals events in Korea, Japan, and Taiwan this year and will continue to scale with content both local to APAC and international.
Twitch previously told The Drum how it has been doubling down on the Asia Pacific during the Covid-19 pandemic to help brands and their media agency partners understand that gamers are not a monolith.