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E3 2014: Twitch Is Making Traditional Game Journalism Irrelevant

Jun 3 2014, 1:50am CDT | by

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E3 2014: Twitch Is Making Traditional Game Journalism Irrelevant
 
 

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E3 2014: Twitch Is Making Traditional Game Journalism Irrelevant

The day before E3 officially kicks off this year, I’ll be liveblogging the Ubisoft press conference, then cabbing it over to the L.A. Memorial Sports Arena for Sony‘s PlayStation event, and finally darting to the Ace Hotel for a late evening Xbox media showcase. In the 3 days which follow, I’ll attend 22 meetings, interviews, and hands-on previews centered around upcoming games. It will take the better half of a week to transcribe those conversations and publish my takeaways from the onslaught of unreleased gaming goodness I’ll experience.

Meanwhile, across 4 days and 30 hours of broadcasts, Twitch will be covering every major press conference and every single game reveal from Microsoft Studios, Deep Silver, Warner Bros., Sony and others. They’ll have developers in their booth, giving you their undivided attention, to demonstrate upcoming titles like Witcher 3, The Division, Destiny, Evolve, and Civilization: Beyond Earth. Meanwhile, I’ll be in a private theater with about 15 to 30 other game journalists, taking notes and scrambling to publish my impressions before the rest of the collective games press does.

I don’t make these comparisons to complain. I happen to love my job and the written word as its delivery platform; there’s clearly a large audience for it. But Twitch is rapidly turning traditional models and coverage formats upside down, not least of which is due to its ubiquitous nature. Wherever you are and whatever device you happen to have available as major E3 reveals go down, Twitch has an app, channel, or URL for it.

“Thanks to our passionate community, Twitch has become the epicenter for publishers and developers who want to connect with them,” said Jon Carnage, Content Director at Twitch. “As a result, this will be our most robust E3 presence to date. It also ensures that every living room has a window into all the major news and games revealed at the show.” I’ve included their E3 broadcast schedule at the bottom of this article to illustrate that Jon Carnage isn’t exaggerating.

I don’t make these comparisons to complain. I happen to love my job and the written word as its delivery platform; there’s clearly a large audience for it. But Twitch is rapidly turning traditional models and coverage formats upside down, not least of which is due to its ubiquitous nature. Wherever you are and whatever device you happen to have available as major E3 reveals go down, Twitch has an app, channel, or URL for it.

Were Twitch some upstart struggling for viewership, we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation. But with a monthly user base of 45 million and peak internet traffic higher than Facebook, Twitch is a force to be reckoned with in not only content creation and consumption, but also in the reporting and journalism space.

But does all this mean Twitch will render traditional game journalism obsolete? Yes and no.

Josh Smith is a freelance journalist who has written features for IGN, Western Digital's Ventito, and also runs an emerging Twitch channel and personal blog. His argument? Twitch may be disruptive, but it presents an area of opportunity for traditional journalists:

“Twitch is acting as a simple catalyst for information. They take the press events and deliver them in the same way that websites have been doing so for years,” Smith tells me. “The difference here is that Twitch, formerly a platform, is finally acting as a content provider, but still isn’t providing their own content.”

Smith argues that the key to success will be moving beyond merely reporting information, and instead doing so with a magnetic personality or unique coverage angle. It’s no longer enough to regurgitate press releases. Even reports with a neutral tone may be passed by in favor of a strong opinion.

“The industry has evolved to require personality. In fact, all journalism has. You can tune into Twitch to get E3 content shoveled into your face the same as you can flip on CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News to get world events. But when that content is delivered in an interesting way, with a snarky article or a loveable podcast, you’re getting full entertainment. That’s what makes people like John Oliver and Stephen Colbert brilliant. They deliver both information and entertainment.”

“Gaming journalists, successful ones, can do the same thing,” Smith believes.

One such personality is Marcus Beer (aka “Annoyed Gamer”), a 15-year veteran of video game PR who later turned his attention to the media side of the fence. He regularly offers insights on LA’s NBC4, but became an internet sensation with his no-holds-barred, brutally honest approach to reporting industry news on GameTrailers, and later his standalone video series “Annoyed Gamer.” He’s obviously the perfect compliment to Smith’s argument, but made it known in an email interview that traditional text coverage isn’t going anywhere.

“What Twitch is doing at E3 is no different in my eyes to what GameSpot, IGN & Spike TV has been doing over the last few years & G4 was doing before that,” says Beer. “People will tune in for the videos & reveals, but there is still an audience for the traditional written coverage as there is a demographic of gamer who simply prefers to get their info that way. Not everyone likes to watch videos.”

We’re living in a time when Nintendo has a diminished presence at E3 and instead addresses their audience directly. A time when developers can sit in a booth and broadcast their unreleased gameplay and commentary to a potential audience of 45 million. It begs the question: Could Twitch make E3 itself irrelevant? Beer doesn’t think so.

“Not at all, Twitch is another medium for showing games, another outlet. E3 is important for getting global eyes on the games industry,” he explains. “It brings in coverage from broadcast networks and major print publications. It puts games in front of people who don’t have a clue what Twitch or IGN is.”

For now, my job’s safe. But you’ll understand if my coverage becomes increasingly opinionated…

Special thanks to Marcus Beer and Josh Smith for their input. 


Here’s the breadth of coverage that Twitch is offering for this year’s E3:

Monday 6/9 PT

●     9:30am – Xbox E3 2014 Media Briefing

●     11:00am – Xbox E3 2014 Media Briefing Post show

●     11:30pm – Hotline Miami 2 (Dennaton Games/Devolver Digital)

●     12:00pm – EA World Premiere: E3 2014 Preview

●     1:00pm – EA Special Event

●     2:00pm – EA World Premiere: E3 2014 Post show

●     2:30pm – Bethesda (Unannounced title)

●     3:00pm – Ubisoft 2014 E3 Media Briefing

●     4:00pm – Ubisoft 2014 E3 Media Briefing Post show

●     4:30pm – Witcher 3 (CD Projekt RED)

●     5:00pm – Dying Light (Techland)

●     5:30pm – Final thoughts

●     6:00pm – PlayStation E3 2014 Press Conference

Tuesday 6/10 PT:

●     9:00am – Nintendo Digital Event

●     10:00am – Deep Silver (Unannounced title)

●     10:15am – Deep Silver (Unannounced title)

●     10:30am – Dragon Age: Inquisition (EA)

●     11:00am – Ubisoft (Unannounced title)

●     11:20am – The Division (Ubisoft)

●     11:40am – Farcry 4 (Ubisoft)

●     12:00pm – Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (Activision)

●     12:20pm – Microsoft Studios (Unannounced title)

●     12:40pm – Microsoft Studios (Unannounced title)

●     1:00pm – DRIVECLUB (Sony Computer Entertainment)

●     1:20pm – Evil Within (Bethesda)

●     1:40pm – Lords of the Fallen (NAMCO)

●     2:00pm – Destiny (Activision/BUNGIE)

●     2:20pm – The Order: 1886 (Sony Computer Entertainment)

●     2:40pm – Nintendo (Unannounced title)

●     3:00pm – Evolve Special Tournament (2K)

●     4:00pm – Super Smash Bros. Invitational (Nintendo)

Wednesday 6/11 PT:

●     10:00am – Alienware

●     10:30am – Twitch Time

●     11:00am – Sunset Overdrive (Insomniac Games/Microsoft Studios)

●     11:20am – Microsoft Studios (Unannounced title)

●     11:40am – Killer Instinct: Season Two (Iron Galaxy/Microsoft Studios)

●     12:00pm – Square Enix (Unannounced title)

●     12:20pm – Warhammer 40k: Eternal Crusade (Square Enix)

●     12:40pm – H1Z1 (Sony Online Entertainment)

●     1:00pm – EA (Unannounced title)

●     1:20pm – Batman: Arkham Knight (Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)

●     1:40pm – Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)

●     2:10pm – Nintendo (Unannounced title)

●     2:30pm – Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (Unannounced title)

●     2:50pm – Crytek (Unannounced title)

●     3:00pm – Sony Computer Entertainment (Unannounced PS4/PS3 title)

●     3:15pm – Sony Computer Entertainment (Unannounced PS4/PS Vita Digital title)

●     3:30pm – Hohokum (Honeyslug, SCE Santa Monica Studio/Sony Computer Entertainment)

●     3:45pm – Helldivers (Arrowhead Game Studios/Sony Computer Entertainment)

●     4:00pm – Alien Isolation (The Creative Assembly/SEGA)

●     4:20pm – Civilization: Beyond Earth (2K)

●     4:40pm – Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – Ultimate Evil Edition on PS4 (Blizzard)

●     5:00pm – Evolve Special Tournament (2K)

Thursday 6/12 PT:

●     10:00am – Tetris w/creator Alexey Pajitnov

●     10:15am – Zombies Monsters Robots (Ying Pei Games)

●     10:30am – Guinness World Records – certificate presentation

●     11:00am – Fable Legends (Lionhead Studios/Microsoft Studios)

●     11:20am – Microsoft Studios (TBD)

●     11:40am – Project Spark (Team Dakota/Microsoft Studios)

●     12:00pm – Nintendo (Unannounced title)

●     12:20am – Square Enix (Unannounced title)

●     12:40pm – PlanetSide 2 PS4 Edition (Sony Online Entertainment)

●     1:00pm – 505 Games (TBD)

●     1:20pm – Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (Unannounced title)

●     1:40pm – Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel (Gearbox/2K)

●     2:00pm – Ubisoft (Unannounced title)

●     2:20pm – The Crew (Ubisoft)

●     2:40pm - Nintendo (Unannounced title)

●     3:00pm – Tecmo Koei (Unannounced title)

●     3:20pm – Disney Infinity 2.0: Marvel Super Heroes (Disney Interactive)

●     3:40pm – SEGA Sonic BOOM! (SEGA)

●     4:00pm – Evolve Special Tournament (2K)

 

 

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