Imagine watching an Unreal Tournament match and seeing a logo for Mountain Dew on the side of a crate, on a wall or on the back of a player’s outfit. Then imagine being able to click on it and other placements to interact with the live broadcast and give a sponsored cheer, drop health, or influence the match in some other way. You don’t need to imagine it, because Genvid is already making that interaction a reality across livestreaming platforms such as Twitch, YouTube Live, Facebook Live, Beam and more.
Speaking with AListDaily, Jacob Navok, CEO at Genvid Technologies, described the technology as “a toolkit for game developer broadcasts to create interactive streams—and I don’t mean interactive from the perspective of Twitch Plays Pokémon. I mean, you can literally click, tap, touch and interact with what you’re watching. You’re able to touch a YouTube Live stream and it will recognize what you’re clicking on and what the information is in real-time.”
The technology overlays branding locally as part of the in-browser experience, so its viewing data can be tracked. A child watching might see a soda ad, while an adult would see one for beer, and someone in Japan could see something else.
Genvid’s plugin allows game developers to include these interactions from within the game without having any of the players see them. With the technology, developers can do three key things: deploy multiple camera positions in the video stream; make the stream interactive with clickable objects and players; and lastly, understand the viewers’ needs.
“For example,” said Navok, “if we detect that the chat is talking about or cheering for a specific player, we can have the camera focus on them. Alternatively, if we detect that viewers don’t like a specific player, the game creators can choose to have that player killed by the audience like in a Roman coliseum.”
Novak went on to discuss how Genvid could greatly benefit game developers, publishers, viewers and brand sponsors by livening up livestreams.
Is Genvid meant only for game developers, or can other livestream creators make use of it?
We started on a key theory on where the game industry is going, which is that game creators will begin to own and operate premium streams. In my opinion, judging from what we’ve seen in the last year, that’s what esports is—it’s the creation of streams by certain entities, whether they be the game developers or otherwise, for the purpose of generating viewership that is then monetized. The deal that Riot did with BAMTech is indicative of how they want to own and operate streams, and the acquisition of MLG by Activision is indicative of that too. Smaller developers are doing this as well. So, we’re starting to see deep and rich involvement from game creators into the production of streams, which (up until a few years ago, with the exception of Valve and Riot) were mostly left to Twitch streamers.
So, we wanted to begin with a toolkit that was usable by game developers, which allowed them to differentiate their streams and also took advantage of the fact that they were the creators. They have a lot more access than whatever is in a retail build. In the future, I think individual streamers could use this tech, and it could take a couple of different directions. Game broadcasters like MLG and ESL are going to have game builds that use our tech for streamers to operate. I think if we partnered with a larger streaming platform, we would allow for individuals to stream from their computer.
Who do brands talk to if they want to become involved with esports using this technology? Genvid, game developers or broadcasting platforms?
There have been a lot of brand attention coming to us. We’ve been speaking with not just agencies, but with brands themselves. All of them are looking for the next big thing that will differentiate them, but they’re also looking for something that’s better than the standard video ad roll. Ideally, in the future, we would have the game publishers and creators working with brands directly without us a middleman. But, for the time being—because everything is so new—we’re bringing brands to our customers and enabling it.
How does Genvid compare to brand placement in a broadcast?
The difference between this and what you see in a broadcast is the clickability and interactivity. I can’t click on an ad that’s occurring inside of a video stream. Here, I can. From a brand perspective, that’s amazing. We don’t just want to take this as an opportunity to do arenas. The larger vision for the company is to enable fully interactive capabilities where everybody is a participant in a larger world.
For example, you could broadcast a game with a million viewers watching through consoles, mobile phones and PCs. Everyone can choose the level of engagement they want—do they want to play, set traps or give health? Here, the clickability of the brand is very important, because viewers can click on things happening on the map and they get points for it. With points, they can do interactions and engagements. This would be a new monetary stream for the developer and a new form of creative play for the players.
How does Genvid maintain a sense of authenticity for brands?
I think what’s most important is to discover whether the game works for your brand or not. For example, I don’t think putting advertisements in the middle of outer space within a game like Fractured Space works, no matter what the brand is. When we consider what brands we’re connecting with the developers we’re working with, we always think about whether the game has something visually appropriate to match the context.
Will broadcasters have total control or will viewers be able to choose which players they want to keep track of?
There was a big thread last year in the League of Legends Reddit where users said they wanted to watch the LCS from the perspective of the teams they followed, not necessarily from the broadcaster’s camera. The way we’ve been thinking about it has been very similar. We want to enable game creators to create a camera for every player and every team, as well as all the interesting perspectives, allowing the viewer to swap between them.
Genvid also supports VR broadcasts. Is that interaction for 2D livestreams or from within a virtual reality experience?
We’re starting with 2D because that’s the most urgent requirement. VR game creators want more people to learn about and play their games, so we focused on that. A lot of them understand that most people don’t own headsets yet, and if they want the ecosystem to grow, they have to get all those people interested.
The headset experience is a terrible one to watch, and it might make you feel sick, so developers wanted to use us to show additional perspectives. For a racing game, instead of watching from the helmet, you could watch it from the side like a real race. But very quickly, we realized that we wanted people in the headset to get cheers, so we helped with that. From there, we had VR developers asking if we could stream it back into the headset as video, which we can. We’ve got a VR developer exploring that option right now.
Can Genvid benefit a live in-stadium experience?
People in stadiums want to see what is being broadcast on monitors, but they also want to swap between different angles, follow what they want using their phones, and do the cheering in person. They want to see the action through their phones and tablets, but get all the excitement from the people around them. Frankly, I think this technology is applicable for traditional sports and general media properties.