Sony said Tuesday that the new PlayStation 4 will go on sale in North
America on Nov. 15 and that owners will be able to broadcast their games live on
Twitch, the increasingly popular online service video gamers use to watch other
Sony's announcements could help San Francisco's Twitch dramatically expand its reach because the company will be integrated into both of the next-generation home video game consoles, the PS4 and the rival Microsoft Xbox One.
Twitch already has more than 38 million unique viewers per month and averages about 1.5 hours per viewer per day.
"This is a very big deal for Twitch," said Matthew DiPietro, the company's vice president for marketing. "It's been a goal for a long time at Twitch to make it as easy as possible to broadcast game play no matter where those games are being played."
Sony had previously said the PS4 would be launched during the holiday shopping season this year. But during the Gamescom video game conference in Germany, the company finally revealed specific launch dates -- Nov. 15 in North America and Nov. 29 in Europe.
Twitch launched in June 2011, spinning off from personal online broadcasting service Justin.tv to concentrate on serving video gamers.
Twitch viewers tune in to learn tips and strategy about their favorite games by watching how others play. They also use the service to watch competitive eSports events like Major League Gaming.
The company has grown on the strength of gamers who own PCs equipped with the necessary higher-end hardware to play, capture and stream video from their games. The company has been working with game developers to add Twitch to their games.
Yet Twitch hasn't been able to fully tap the huge home console market. Owners of the Xbox 360 game console can watch, but they can't broadcast.
Still, even with the technical hurdles, Twitch sees about 600,000 unique broadcasters per month, which shows "gamers have this desire and demand to share their game play," DiPietro said.
"We really foresee a day when broadcasting game play is the same thing as playing a game," he said.
With the PS4, players can hit a "share" button on their wireless controller and broadcast their games to their Twitch channels.
At the E3 video game conference in June, Microsoft announced Twitch would be integrated into the Xbox One, which is scheduled to go on sale at a still unspecified date in November. Also at E3, Sony announced the PS4 would include San Francisco's Ustream online video service.
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