Streaming service monolith Twitch is setting its sights on the Korean market, as the general manager of Twitch Korea, Albert Kim, and manager Ahn Young-Hoon said in an interview with Korean news publication iNews 24 they plan to kick the streaming platform into third gear.
“After being part of Twitch, I was able to see the various types of other esports leagues being held in foreign countries, and felt an impending danger for esports in Korea,” Ahn told iNews24. “For example, the fighting game tournament (EVO) had over 200,000 viewers from all over the world watching, something that is unthinkable in Korea. I wanted to prevent the stagnation of esports in Korea by creating a new esports league on the Twitch platform.”
Ahn has been in the gaming industry in some capacity for 16 years. The newly created Versus League, or VSL, is the collaboration of Versus Gaming and Twitch, with the goal of consistent brand recognition and longevity.
“Ordinary leagues change their names whenever their sponsors change,” he said. “When starting a brand in esports, it’ll be hard to be remembered in the market if it continues to change. Even if the games change, we aim to make a recognizable brand with the VSL.”
Twitch has two studios in Korea, the VSL and MSF studios. Ahn explained that Twitch is hoping to find a balance of various different types of competitions that are streaming at the same time, and to create an environment where players can thrive during the offseasons of their games with two separate studios.
“I believe that the main attractions of esports are the players,” Ahn said. “By hosting regular contests we can make professional careers last longer. By having shorter, more regular competitions, we can reduce the offseason as much as we can for them while also allowing players out of the running to prepare for the next event.”
It seems Ahn’s thoughts were right on the money, as Twitch has been enjoying rave reviews from Korean users, especially fans of games that have been neglected by the Korean market such as Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, and various fighting games.
“We have been getting especially good feedback from the Dota 2 and CS:GO fans,” he said. “They often have to rely on foreign leagues, but now they are happy to see local talent. They are also very vocal on topics such as how to run a league more smoothly, so we are currently working on how we can assist the viewers and be of use to them.”
Of course, part of Twitch’s response to the fans’ feedback is to be open to any and all suggestions to make it a better streaming service. Kim pointed out he addition of the “Cook Room,” also known as “Muk-Bang” as a result of user feedback. This seems to be a specific feature added for Korea, as it is the host country of many streamers who enjoy eating large quantities of food while talking to their audience. Although it’s not a phenomenon anywhere else in the world, it does go to show how committed Twitch is to creating a social platform.
“The most important role of Twitch is to offer a service that makes streaming and viewing easy,” both Kim and Ahn said. “Twitch already has the technical ability to create various services and is working hard to reflect the wants and needs of the viewers, so please do not hesitate to offer feedback.”