Twitch is one of the most popular apps in gaming and live-streaming. Amazon bought Twitch in 2014 for a whopping $970 million and it has continued its strong growth since then. The Chinese government has blocked Twitch in China in a not so surprising move.
Twitch surged to popularity in China during the recent Asian Games 2018, Jakarta. It reached the 3rd place amongst all free apps in the iOS Appstore. The Asian Games featured a mixture of mobile and PC games. It also included League of Legends which has a huge player base in China.
The Asian games 2018 was a landmark event for esports. It was the first time that Asian games included esports. As esports strives for mainstream recognition, its inclusion in the Games will be crucial in helping others understand esports. However, it was not a medal event at the games. It was just a demonstration sport. It saw widespread news coverage as well as a lot of viewership.
China went home with 2 Gold Medals and one silver medal from the Games. They won the Arena of Valor [ Mobile game] and League of Legends. These are two of the most popular games in China in the Mobile as well as PC category. With the state broadcaster CCTV choosing not to air the Asian Games, users resorted to various alternatives. Twitch was not as popular in China mainly due to lower speeds. It has its servers located outside the country and this significantly impacts the viewing experience. Viewers chose Twitch to watch their national team compete at the Asian games.
Twitch has tremendous growth in the recent past mainly due to the advent of Battle Royale Games such as Fortnite and PUBG. Over the last year, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins shattered viewership records as he continues to be one of the most positive streamers on the website.
The Chinese government has taken several steps to exert more influence over the gaming industry. Last month, it was announced that China would limit the number of Online Games over fears of growing Myopia amongst young children. It has resulted in physical as well as emotional distress amongst the youth.
A recent reorganisation within the Chinese government put Video Game licensing directly under the Communist Party of China. Previously, one of the permissions[ you require two different permissions ] required to sell video games in China had to be obtained from the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT). The SAPPRFT was abolished and divided into smaller ministries. The video game licensing is now directly under the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China (CPCPD). As the name suggests, the Communist party has greater control over this ministry.
Recently Tencent also had to pull its game from the Wegame platform post-release. Shareholders expected the Monster Hunter: World to be a massive hit in China. It would significantly boost the Tencent Stock price. Instead, it found itself embroiled in policy and red tape.
The stringent rules and regulations regarding gaming definitely point to a move to regulate the gaming industry and assert control over its development. The Tencent Games Stock Price has fallen almost 25% since about six months ago. The Chinese government crackdown on the release of new games hurts the game development industry.
There is no confirmation if and whether the block on Twitch is temporary or permanent. For now, Twitch joins several tech giants such as Google, FaceBook, Whatsapp as they remain sidelined by the Chinese government.