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June 12th 2014 1:04 pm

Is it fun to watch gaming livestreams?

Livestreaming gameplay has blown up big in the past few years, to the point where both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have it baked it into the consoles themselves, with the PS4 making it as easy as pressing a button on the Dualshock 4 and you just have to tell the Xbox to broadcast. But not the Wii U -- and when asked about that at E3 by the folks at Polygon, Reggie Fils-Aime said,

"We don't think streaming 30 minutes of gameplay by itself is a lot of fun," adding that while watching competitions and 'Let's Play' videos that instruct you how to play better, "that's different than watching Joe Blow's 30 minute stream, which may or may not have something that's all that interesting."

Now, besides the fact that he just referred to ordinary players as "Joe Blows" which is kind of insulting, it's troublesome to see that the company is basically dictating to people how they should be having fun. Maybe the folks at Nintendo don't find these streams interesting, sure. But clearly someone does, as evidenced by the crazy amount of traffic that Twitch gets, even on non-competitive, non-instructional streams. And for those personal Twitch streams don't get a lot of traffic, that's fine too -- they aren't really for the public, anyway. Sometimes people just want to share their gameplay with friends and family, and it's interesting to those people, just as watching a random kid's school play might bore you to tears but the performance certainly matters to that kid's parents. We all create our own meaningful experiences.


I think Chris Kohler (of Wired) might have it right when he said that Nintendo is "Scared Of Internet." They were behind the curve on getting their systems online, on making them easy to connect (remember Friend Codes?), and offering good online services. This is really just another notch on that belt. What I think it ultimately comes down to is an issue of control. I've brought up control before in regards to Nintendo's refusal to put their games on other systems. They don't like the internet that much because they can't control it. You can see that even in more of Reggie's quotes, where he says, "you can expect us to do more of that type of activity, highlighting our games and providing a forum for players to learn how to play better." They've certainly been flexing their need for control in other places, like the revenue sharing deal they've struck with YouTube broadcasters.


I've been watching the Treehouse stuff from E3, and while some of it is interesting, a lot of it is just boring. Like Splatoon -- I am actually interested in playing the game, but I can't watch the livestream anymore because it went on too long and I'd rather be playing it at this point. But in general, I do find overall value in watching videos on Twitch and other sites. But I'd hate to be told that only certain types of videos are "acceptable" ways of watching gameplay. Sure I watch Let's Play videos to be instructed, but I've also been enjoying the Luigi Death Stare meme, something that Nintendo only seems to acknowledge begrudgingly.

Do you watch gameplay videos? What do you find fun about them? And also, what's your favorite Luigi Death Stare video?

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I usually tune into Twitch to watch games I want to play, but I'm too scared or games I don't have enough time to play. I also like watching them for the silly commentary. People say the silliest things when they're trying not to freak out... and when they are freaking out.
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I agree that Nintendo is scared of the internet, but I also agree with you on the Splatoon part. They dragged that on for over 30 minutes and it was just them playing the same thing over, and over, and over.

I never watch live streams because often the commentary, if there, is just so damn bad. I did used to watch Starcraft 2 streams but only because of Day9, but after awhile his goofiness became unbearable.

I will say I do enjoy the Giantbomb's cast when they do extended plays, they've managed to find the perfect balance between discussing the game and not having it feel like a press report.
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I found that watching Street Fighter IV videos were way more interesting and enjoyable when they were from a tournament and had commentary. When I needed to learn something, watching videos without commentary just for the purpose of learning was a bit of a chore.

Having said all that, I am planning to watch a straight playthrough of Cosmic Fantasy 2 (without commentary - which ruins an RPG Let's Play) instead of playing it myself again since I ran into issues with the emulator running my disc.

Aside from something specific like that where I want the story of an RPG without having to do it myself, I can't get excited about watching game playthroughs. So, I guess I agree with him in certain scenarios, but his statement was to much of a generalization.
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