Amazon-owned streaming platform Twitch is a massive hit. According to a report by StreetInsider, Twitch has more average viewers than CNN and MSNBC. In January 2018, the platform had an average concurrent viewership of 962,000, whereas CNN averaged 783,000 and MSNBC averaged 855,000. It has become one of the fastest-growing forms of entertainment and it is also an accessible way to get in front of a huge audience.
With millions of people around the world tuning in to watch others play games and interact with their audiences, you may be wondering how streamers are able to capture the interest of their viewers. Just what exactly is it that people come to Twitch for? And, more than that, how is the games industry working to cater to the rise of streaming platforms?
What Makes a Good Streamer?
To figure out what viewers look for – and how streamers are able to cater to them – there are plenty of successful examples that you can look at. Streamers who do life-casting streams and streamers who live-stream games both agree that it’s all about interacting with viewers.
Although streamers are sharing their own skills, talents, and interests on stream, they also have to make an effort to incorporate the audience into the action. While streaming, presenters can ask their viewers questions about the action that is playing out on stream. What do they think about the latest strategy that you’ve just employed? How was that play? And what games do they think that you should play next? These questions encourage viewers to leave messages, have discussions with other viewers and they will feel a connection to the streamer as well.
The top 10 streamers earn $20 million a year between them, predominantly off of the back of this sort of engagement from their viewers, showing making an effort to get viewers involved really does pay off. Though with that said, streamers can benefit in other ways too. Some leading streamers on Twitch say that the very reason that they began streaming on Twitch in the first place is that of the social aspect. The ability to find a community is a draw for both streamers and viewers alike, it seems.
How Games Have Developed Around This Need for Interaction
It’s not just streamers who have adapted their broadcasting styles around this need for interaction. Game developers are tailoring their actual games around the idea of playing together. They’ve considered what sort of features are the most fun for viewers to watch and for streamers to play.
The recent release of the Jackbox Party Pack 5 is a good example of this. The pack from Jackbox Games includes a range of silly and tongue-in-cheek party games including common sense quiz You Don’t Know Jack and lyrical robot rap battle Mad Verse City. The variety of mini-games and the potential for viewers to laugh both with and at the streamer makes this the perfect game for Twitch. On the other side of the spectrum, live casino games with live dealers offer another chance to interact with the person on the other side of the screen. Live, human dealers deal cards to players, also talking and communicating with viewers in a chilled and laidback atmosphere. The game has been designed to give players a pleasant playing environment with a side of competition. Though, there are plenty of stream-friendly games that aren’t about outright beating your opponents, such as TinyBuild’s action stealth game, Party Hard which is about using increasingly gross ways to stop your neighbor’s party. Watching a streamer destroy dancefloors, cut down trees and generally be a nuisance is the new slapstick comedy.
Oddly enough, there are quite a few games out there where viewers enjoy watching streamers interact with their friends as much as they enjoy interacting with the streamers themselves. This includes battle royale games like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Epic Games’ huge hit, Fortnite, where players can squad up in teams of four to be the last one standing. Or, there is Sea of Thieves, where players can sail around as a pirate crew, attacking other swashbucklers and finding treasure. The natural camaraderie that these games lead to makes it fantastic Twitch fodder that viewers can’t get enough of.
More Platforms = More Interaction
If you think that viewers will get annoyed at this level of fourth-wall-breaking any time soon, then guess again. The rise of other streaming platforms like Microsoft’s growing platform, Mixer, means that streamers will only focus on interaction even more. Even if their channel or the streaming platform itself is small, these interactions can help them stand out.
A streamer’s job is made a whole lot easier by the release of stream-focused games, designed for these interactive audiences. So here’s hoping that more innovative features will become available soon too.