For many people, video game streaming isn't just a hobby, it's a full-time job. At this point, most people have heard of Felix Kjellberg - aka PewDiePie - who brings in over $4 million a year playing games online, but the Swedish-born broadcaster is just the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds of gamers out there who are making a healthy living by playing games for the public, and becoming minor celebrities in the process. In fact, the streaming market has gotten so large that even major publishers want a piece of the pie, and some executives think that streams will eventually render the traditional gaming media obsolete.
Whether you understand the appeal or not, game streams are an innovative and popular form of entertainment, and their rise can be largely credited to two companies: YouTube and Twitch. Twitch in particular has had a huge impact on the streaming community; while YouTube is a general entertainment channel, Twitch focuses on games specifically, with special rules to make sure that outside interests don't take over the site.
That sounds like a fairly specific niche, but it's worked out well for the company. Twitch accounted for 1.35% of all North American Internet traffic in the past year (that's more than HBO Go), and that number's still growing. In fact, Twitch has become so popular that Amazon recently purchased the company for $970 million, along with a promise that the company will remain virtually independent.
Now, Twitch has become such a huge part of so many people's lives that the company is holding a special convention targeting broadcasters and viewers. Called TwitchCon, the gathering is currently scheduled for September 25 and 26, and will take place at San Francisco's Moscone Center, the largest convention center in the city.
While there's no schedule yet, the event sounds like it's half a social gathering, and half a professional development event. Twitch promises that convention will be "an interactive convention for broadcasters and viewers alike to meet each other, learn how to take your [sic] Twitch game to the next level, and play together." Other attendees include game developers, Twitch executives, and "community thought-leaders."
That's somewhat vague, but TwitchCon should be in good hands. The convention is co-produced by Twitch and ReedPop, the company behind New York Comic Con, PAX, C2E2, and a host of other gamer-friendly pop culture events. They know what they're doing. Currently, there is no information regarding tickets or hotels, but Twitch has set up an official Twitter account where they'll be releasing more information. Block out the time now; TwitchCon is sure to be a popular event, and if you're part of the Twitch community it's worth marking on your calendar as soon as possible.