Live video broadcasting is one of the biggest ways that developers enable their fan communities to engage with one another, and now game studios have a new way to enable that functionality in their mobile releases.
Skillz, a company that enables game makers to add real-money competitions to their mobile apps, has added livestreaming to its free toolkit. This means that any developer can quickly implement broadcasting into their game because Skillz claims that its technology works with all game engines. That is a first for livestreaming on mobile, as the other software development kits from companies like Twitch only work with certain frameworks. Skillz expects studios to embrace this feature since live video is growing at a rapid rate in the gaming space and especially in the e-sports sector, which the company specializes in. More than 134 million people watched live pro-gaming events online last year, and that represents an 88 percent increase year over year.
For Skillz, live video is a necessary part of its own evolution. The company has long provided ways for regular and professional gamers to earn money with their gaming abilities. But to skillful players, sharing their achievements and highlights with other people is nearly as important as making money from a win.
“While livestreaming and instant replays are an intrinsic part of competitive gaming, we didn’t set out to build our own solution,” Skillz chief marketing officer Casey Chafkin told GamesBeat. “The existing technologies only worked with specific development frameworks and did not offer the option to stream gameplay in real time. We needed something that would work with every mobile game, would not add any integration time to the existing Skillz SDK, and would give spectators the opportunity to watch competitions as they happened. Our solution does all of that.”
Skillz joins a mobile video market that is expanding fast but also doesn’t necessarily have a dominant video provider. While Twitch is the clear choice for most of the gamers broadcasting from PC and consoles, companies like Kamcord and Everyplay have found success on mobile. But the solutions from those startups focus entirely on post-game video sharing. The pure livestreaming space on mobile is much more barren, with Twitch offering its services in only a select few releases.
This has left an opportunity open for Skillz.
“Currently, livestreaming and instant replays are bundled with the Skillz iOS SDK,” said Chafkin. “And it will be included with an Android update this summer.”
Skillz broadcasts will beam directly to the company’s website, but Chafkin explains that people can then share them anywhere else that they want. But, in the future, Skillz will enable streamers to directly share their content live to any website they want. That includes Twitch.
In addition to having the freedom to share their gameplay wherever they want, competitive players are also deeply concerned about the performance. Skillz broadcasting won’t catch on if it causes a game to chug. But Chafkin says that isn’t a concern.
“The video encoding uses a different chip from the one used to process the game itself,” he said. “There is no slowdown from the video capture or transmission.”
The mobile space is in a state where a company like Skillz could really capture a significant piece of the market. If developers embrace the technology, you could see livestreaming in a huge number of apps by the end of the year. And many studios are likely considering video as its one of the easiest ways to get the word out about an interesting, new game.