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Video games become triple-A content

Video games become triple-A content

Watching video games — not playing them — is becoming a major online video draw. Viewers are flocking to video-game streaming services to watch top-flight competitions and to see experienced players make their way through challenging game worlds. On the services, you can chat with the host or other viewers. A very large sign of the importance of video games as content came last summer when Amazon paid $1 billion for streaming service Twitc h. It has more than 1.5 million broadcasters who stream live game play and videos that they produce to more than 100 million viewers.

Earlier this month, YouTube — owned by Google, which wanted Twitch, too — announced its own live game-streaming service, YouTube Gaming. The timing was no accident, as YouTube Gaming used this past week’s Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles to begin broadcasting live from the L.A.-based video-game convention and trade show. Hosting the festivities was longtime video-game journalist Geoff Keighley, formerly of GameTrailers TV on Spike.

When the service launches for real this summer it will let viewers subscribe to their favorite games to be notified when new content arrives. And YouTube plans to make it easier for broadcasters to stream live. There’s certainly an audience. YouTube’s daylong June 15 live stream that included E3 preview press conferences by Microsoft and Sony attracted 8 million viewers who watched a total of 2.4 million hours. (You can still see all the E3 presentations from video-game makers on the site.)

Twitch says that its live streaming of the events at E3 — including presentations by game publishers such as Bethesda, Electronic Arts and Ubisoft — each drew at least 500,000 concurrent viewers, with some topping 800,000 viewing live. Amazon has expanded its vision for Twitch, building a music library for its broadcasters and hosting its own event, TwitchCon, to be held in San Francisco in September. Another player in the live streaming of video game eSports competitions is Major League Gaming, which has attracted 27 million viewers on MLG.tv.