Gaming Returns to the Xbox!
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The writing is on the wall. Smart phones and tablets are driving traditional video game consoles into obsolescence. Casual gaming is the wave of the future! Who wants to shell out $59.99 for a console game when you can repetitively fling birds at pigs for $0.99? The death of the PC is upon us!
OK, things aren't that dire for the video game industry, but it has been a tough ride lately. Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) Xbox 360 garners headlines more often for creating partnerships with Hulu and Netflix than it does for new video game releases. Microsoft has done well to develop the Xbox into a more complete multimedia distribution platform, but it has lost some of its original gaming soul. The Kinect sold like hotcakes, but it has been a total flop so far from a gamer's perspective. This year's Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) was fairly mundane for the consoles, however, one tidbit of news from Microsoft filled me with great joy. Video games are returning to the Xbox 360...... via a new app for Twitch.tv
Twitch.tv is the video game streaming spin-off of Justin.tv, a Youtube-like website where users create channels and broadcast original content. Twitch.tv was created in June 2011 and has already amassed a huge following. The site attracts 16 million viewers a month, with the average viewer watching an hour a day. The potential of the business has been realized already by CBS Interactive, who recently announced a partnership to take over advertising and promotional responsibilities for Twitch. CBS Interactive made a similar partnership with Major League Gaming, the largest ESports entity in the world.
Esports is a niche but growing market, and this partnership with CBSi should help it access a greater potential fanbase. The MLG (Major League Gaming) Spring Championships were held this past weekend in Anaheim, CA. In case anyone was curious how the event went, MLG put together this graphic.
Another big advancement for us geeks is that people are starting to gather at bars to watch these events. This is no longer the domain of the basement-dwelling nerd.
"Barcraft" Austin, TX
The addition of the Twitch.tv application to the Xbox 360 Live suite of offerings is a possible big win for Microsoft. The prospect of streaming 1080p quality Esports on the living room big screen TV could draw in new subscribers to the Xbox Live service. In return, Xbox users who are uninitiated to Esports could be exposed through effective advertising surrounding their favorite video game. MLG already hosts online competitive arenas for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, the record breaking first person shooter from Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVI). Blizzard, the developer of Starcraft 2, another wildly popular competitive game, has thrown its weight behind the promotion and development of Esports. They will be hosting their own World Championship tournament in the fall, and in May the company announced a partnership with the Korean Esports Association, the ruling body of competitive gaming in Korea. This created a ton of buzz in the community because the legendary Korean players of Starcraft: Brood War will be transitioning to Starcraft 2. Blizzard is doing well to support the organizations that basically advertise its products to massive audiences for free.
Games and TV have flirted in the past. If you ever want a good laugh, search Youtube for 'magic the gathering espn.' Yep, back in 1998, ESPN2 aired the World Championship for the collectible card game. The development of hi-def streaming video on the web has finally given gamers and fans a comfortable and familiar medium for watching their favorite games. Microsoft has made a great move to entice these fans to stop watching on their PC and spend more time on their Xbox.
drfrank1 owns shares of MSFT and ATVI. The Motley Fool owns shares of Activision Blizzard, Microsoft, and Netflix. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Activision Blizzard, Microsoft, and Netflix. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.If you have questions about this post or the Fool’s blog network, click here for information.