6th December 2019

POV: Imgur Launches Melee

Background:

Imgur has announced the launch of Melee, its new content sharing platform designed specifically for gamers and gaming content. The app, which launched on iOS this week, will be coming to Android in early 2020 and be followed by a desktop version at a later date. It’s a significant expansion for Imgur and the most notable product launch since the company was founded in 2009.

Details and Implications:

Imgur has over 300 million monthly users and its analysis of its user base showed that some of the most popular tags were those about video and board games, with 46% of users following one or more. This, along with a survey reported by Tech Crunch that found that 92% of Imgur users considered themselves to be ‘gamers’, meant that there was scope to create an entirely separate platform for gaming content.

Gaming is one of the fastest-growing industries worldwide. Recent data shows there are more than 2.5 billion mobile gamers across the world and the global gaming market is estimated to be worth $152 billion by the end of the year, 45% of that from mobile games. The demand for gaming content is continuing to grow, with Twitch viewers having spent 616 billion minutes watching videos this year.

The main difference between Melee and other gaming video sharing platforms is that Melee is organized around the game, not the poster. On Melee, which will serve as a complementary product to Imgur, users will be able to share highlights from their favourite players, keep up with gaming news, follow esports events and more. The platform will follow the format of YouTube with users being able to subscribe to games they want to follow. However, the platform will also host a feed with popular posts, much like the original Imgur platform, so that people can follow what’s going on in the gaming world generally.

According to the Imgur founder, Alan Schaaf: ‘gamers are constantly taking recordings and screenshots of the games they’re playing. But we found that there’s no place for gamers to share those clips. We want to give these highlights a home.’ On Twitch – the gamer streaming platform - and YouTube, it is challenging to curate a feed of highlights from users’ favourite games, so Imgur hopes to create this space with Melee.

Imgur also stated that it wants to provide a platform for up-and-coming gamers to emerge – this is based on the idea that at present, it is quite difficult to build up an audience and breakthrough on gaming networks such as Twitch, therefore, this platform might just give room for micro-gaming influencers.

The platform will be also integrated to Twitch, meaning that people can import their clips directly from Amazon’s livestreaming platform, making it easily accessible to gamers.

Melee will function much like any other social media platform, enabling users to like, comment and share posts. Liking a post, however, will be called a ‘giving experience’ – which will be visible for other users to see. With that in mind, Imgur has been careful to think about safety precautions and privacy settings.

Summary:

Imgur wants Melee to create a space for gamers to curate their own feeds and encourage up-and-coming gamers to grow their audiences – based around the game. That approach seems complementary to other gaming platforms such as Twitch, rather than a direct competitor. It will be interesting to see how the gaming community responds to the new platform and whether it achieves all that it has set out to do.

Further Reading:

Venture Beat | Tech Crunch | The Verge | Digital Trends TechCrunch Gaming Report

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