Twitch, the competitive gaming broadcasting company, has grown in leaps and bounds since opening for business 18 months ago. The self-described “ESPN of video games” has seen its viewership grow from 16 million viewers per month in May of last year to 23 million per month as of this writing. The eSports network served believed it could serve more than a niche audience, and it’s proven it could. It’s appropriate then that Twitch has partnered with the video game franchise that’s been instrumental in making competitive console gaming a national past time in the past five years.
Activision and Twitch are introducing new tools for Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 on PlayStation 3, PC, and Xbox 360 (they will appear on Xbox 360 first) that will let them automatically stream their multiplayer matches—including commentary and webcam footage—directly to Twitch’s website.
“Call of Duty is one of the largest entertainment franchises in the world, and one of the most distributed games in history,” Matthew DiPietro, Twitch marketing VP, tells Digital Trends, “This is the first console game to integrate the Twitch SDK. Previously, there was a technological barrier to broadcasting from consoles, which was why the Twitch broadcasting base is very PC-heavy. Integrations like this open up easy, one-click broadcasting to a large scale, all-new broadcaster community.”
Black Ops 2 broadcasters will be able to share their videos not just through Twitch, but also Facebook, Twitter, and through the Call of Duty Elite tablet app.
Call of Duty, particularly the Modern Warfare and Black Ops sub-series, has transformed the business of competitive gaming. Call of Duty: Black Ops became the fastest selling video game ever released in March 2011, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 earned $1 billion later that year faster than any game that came before it (particularly impressive given that the first game to ever pull in $1 billion in revenue, Guitar Hero 3, was helped by its high price tag.) The series ubiquity could help the PC-centric Twitch grow even more dramatically in its third year of operation.
DiPietro says that while Twitch is working on integrating the service to other games like Planetside 2, there are no other Activision Blizzard console games beyond Call of Duty to automatically include the SDK officially on the horizon.
Twitch may be taking advantage of the Call of Duty boom at the last possible moment, though. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 sales showed significant slow down compared to Modern Warfare 3 the year before. The audience for the game is still massive, meaning Twitch’s service will still reach an enormous new audience on consoles, but the Call of Duty series may not be a source of growth going forward, merely a stepping stone for the eSports broadcasting company.