Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

YouTube’s Next Live Star: You and Your Bros, Playing Call of Duty

Last month, YouTube let us watch live as a man jumped to Earth from the edge of space.

On tap for this month: Live footage of dudes playing videogames.

Google’s video giant will let Call of Duty players stream their exploits directly to the site, in real time, when Activision launches the newest version of the franchise next week.

You can read about the details here, but the gist is that if you’re so inclined, you’ll be able to watch gamers in multiplayer Call of Duty: Black Ops II matches blow each other up live, for free.

And if you’re not inclined, rest assured that there are a bunch of people who probably are.

Replays of “in-game” footage are a YouTube mainstay, and make up a big chunk of the views on Machinima, one of YouTube’s most popular channel/networks. And live gaming is a biggish deal, too: Earlier this year, YouTube garnered thousands of eyeballs for a live World of Warcraft launch event, which featured footage of players around the globe slashing and hacking.

So this is a pretty straightforward win/win for Google and Activision: One side gets free content, the other side gets free promotion. Free labor, too, courtesy of you and all your pals who paid $60 apiece for the new game.

And it’s a good reminder that while YouTube may occasionally draw huge audiences to watch a single live event, real-time video on the site is usually going to look like this instead: Something most of us have zero interest in watching, but something that’s intensely interesting to a particular niche. Which could make for a very interesting business.

Don’t care about videogames? You may still enjoy this ad for the game, directed by Guy Ritchie, with a cameo from Sherlock Holmes/Tony Stark himself:


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald