Before we jump into this quick and dirty article, I want to be clear on a few things:
- I detest list posts but I realize that the ADD is real and people are “too busy” these days. I appreciate that lists are easier to read but I find them lazy. Just my opinion.
- I’m not a partnered Twitch streamer (yet) but that’s more a matter of priorities than knowledge. I am a NISM-certified social media strategist so the info here is no mere speculation.
That said, I hope this list will entertain and perhaps help our fellow Twitch streamers step their game up. More importantly, we want to provide a perspective that will make Twitch less intimidating and more useful, fun, and, well, doable. If you are looking for a more detailed guide on how succeed on Twitch and social media, check out our unofficial Twitch/Social Media strategy guide (a.k.a. grow your audience). Here are the Twitch myths debunked and the truths revealed.. In no particular order!
1. Google Purchased Twitch For One Billion Dollars [Cash]
Okay, let’s be very clear here. The total amount of the Google acquisition of Twitch has not yet been confirmed and it certainly wasn’t when this was breaking news. The original offer was for 1B but Google has not commented on the deal details thereof. Anyone who says otherwise is full of it. Even VentureBeat has offered “he said, she said” details and very shaky confirmations. A rule of thumb on journalism is that, if anyone does not provide a solid source or says “basically” (or something to that effect), they are speculating, blatantly lying, or sharing an opinion.
That said, the deal is easily worth one billion dollars. It is not known if this deal was done in cash or as a package with stock options and such. Some media outlets have mentioned that this was a cash deal but do not back up the details. SMH.. The real news here is what this means to Twitch streamers that are NOT part of the 1%.
It’s worth noting that Google realized they could not win the fight between YouTube and Twitch, so they bought them out. This is just more of their continued 30B shopping spree.. Because Google. Is this a move to mitigate potential threats or do they have real plans to improve Twitch? I remain hopeful but I am prepared for the worst. Let’s not forget the acquisitions Google killed off in the past. Of course, if there is any company with the resources to make big things happen for Twitch, it’s Google… Right?
We reckon that it’s possible this deal has not been finalized.. And that someone might buy Twitch out from under Google. Who has that media buying power? Microsoft, EA, AOL, Time-Warner, Amazon, Viacom… Hmmmm…. Check back with the GANG and we’ll keep you posted on that. Regardless, be wary of media misinformation and fake news sites.
2. You Need An Nvidia Graphics Card/Processor
Nvidia seems to be favored heavily amongst gamers but it’s not necessarily the best nor is it required. Shadow Play does allow for much easier native streaming but AMD, formerly ATI, products are still solid and may provide a more budget solution with great compatibility. Along with a solid PSU and CPU, a graphics accelerator is a must for streaming video but don’t feel pressured to get Nvidia specifically. Look at the benchmarks and you’ll find the differences is are too subtle to warrant price differences.
On a similar note, don’t be afraid to share your gaming rig specs with your viewers. Some folks may only acknowledge bleeding-edge technology but there is such a thing as overkill. If your kit suits your needs, don’t worry about the rest. Note that if you generally play indie or retro games, the system requirements are significantly lower. Your rig will grow alongside your rig so no worries!
I will say that audio quality trumps video quality every time. If your audio pops or is inconsistent, ears will bleed and people will leave. Note that some people will only listen to the audio of your stream while they multitask. This places a greater importance on a quality microphone.
3. You Should Stream Popular Games Only
These days it seems like everyone streams League Of Legends. That’s a great game to add to your stable of offerings but we recommend playing more niche titles. At any given time, there are at least 1000 LoL streamers so the space is quite saturated. You have to offer something very special for LoL to be part of a sustainable streaming strategy.
Indie titles and games that allow for easy viewer interaction/participation are usually best. For example, Choice Chamber and Cards Against Humanity both offer deep interaction with your Twitch viewers with the latter allowing for big games, whereas LoL really limits how many people you can play with at once. If you like the MOBA and ARTS style, there is still opportunity in popular yet less-streamed games such as Guardians Of Middle Earth, Dawngate, Smite, and Tome.
The beauty of streaming games that have little to no presence on Twitch is that you can work with the developers to be featured in-game or on their social channels. They love the promotion and will often hook you up by promoting your channel, sending you freebies, or giving you work. With League Of Legends, the competition is just too heavy unless you are part of the fortunate 1-5% that has timing, contacts, and/or professional gaming on their side.
4. Twitch Only Partners Streamers With Lots Of Viewers
I hear so much talk about the minimum milestones and conditions necessary for Twitch to consider you for their partners program. It’s all bunk. Here’s why:
Twitch has and will make exceptions for streamers they find attractive in some way.. Even if the numbers are not there.
Maybe you have a great personality or you do other content that has garnered lots of attention. They will consider that. I know this because I have been to channels where there were 10-20 viewers and the person had a subscribe button. I also know people that got sub buttons almost as soon as they started, just because they knew someone or got lucky. Mind you, these same people had NO social media following or marketing background at all.
When you apply to be a Twitch Partner, you will have the opportunity to build your case. Share links to your social channels, web sites, podcasts, videos, etc. These will help you in a BIG way! If you still get denied, don’t be discouraged. Having a sub button is not an instawin.. But it’s nice.
5. Professional Overlays Are A MUST
A video overlay (the stuff that shows on top of the gameplay video) is one of the first things people will notice when browsing new channels, alongside a face cam and any sort of branding you share. While you could pay someone to have a professional layout/overlay created, it is not recommended to boot. It is best to get into a routine with your stream and find what works best for you before investing too much money into it.
If you pace yourself, you’ll find that people will donate and support your channel if you engage them and/or offer unique content. These donations can then be re-invested to upgrade your rig, purchase new games to stream, improve your branding, or just save for a rainy day. Don’t rush things – you’ll get there! A Twitch channel is a constantly-evolving thing so enjoy it at every step of the way.
It’s also important to note that a lot of the overlays out there are overkill. There’s no reason for your webcam or any other assets to take up 33-50% of your layout. Some people, believe it or not, want to watch the actual gameplay. This Wildstar overlay from Dexter_BL commits a lot of Twitch sins:
- It takes the focus away from the core of the experience – the gameplay.
- It slaps people in the face by trying to show off a nice house/apartment/flat.
This particular overlay is likely going for the LAN party effect but it’s a bit much, regardless. I have seen people showing off their setups overtly and it’s quite obvious, materialistic, and silly. I’ve heard from countless Twitch viewers that they feel this practice just shoves success in their faces and makes them want to support the stream less. I would agree.
6. Video Quality Is The Most Important Thing
Wrong. Wrong. WRONG.
People don’t see video quality when browsing channels (they do see your title though *HINT-HINT*) and, in the first few seconds of being in your channel, what they will notice is your skills in the game and your personality. If either are what they seek, less than awesome video quality will not take away from the overall experience. There are people that insist on streaming at 1080p 60 FPS or some other silliness but it’s overkill and most people will downscale your quality to suit mobile devices or avoid having their bandwidth throttled.
I am not saying that aiming for better video quality is not a good goal but don’t become obsessed with it. When it comes to overall stream quality, it’s best to have smooth video than high-resolution. You’ll have to play with the bit rate, CRF, buffer sizes, and other items to get it just right. Be patient and, again, don’t be discouraged if you get the occasional elitist that says your video quality sucks.
7. Skills In A Game Are Key To Popularity
For every top-tier, diamond-level pro gamer there is out there, there are thousands more that are average or worse.. And they stream too. Being the best is not a realistic goal for most of us so, again, I stress the importance of building a brand and personality that is appealing to your viewers. Heck, you might be terrible at your game(s) of choice but that could be part of your appeal. After all, people might get a kick out of your epic fails and you can all laugh together.
I will also point to all the popular channels out there where the gamers are arguably scrubs yet they keep their audiences engaged. Not everyone is looking for a stream where they can improve their own skills. Most are just looking to hang out and perhaps make new friends. Besides, recorded videos are usually better teaching tools than live streams, anyway.
With that in mind, it is worth noting that talking through your plays/moves does help. Twitch viewers will often appreciate understanding your logic and having that dialogue with the streamers. In that manner, you might improve your play or perhaps show people alternate strategies they may not have considered previously. Also, try smiling.. It works wonders!
8. Good Looking Streamers Have It Easier
Lately, it seems like there is a good-looking gamer trend on Twitch. Some feel like these folks have an unfair advantage, especially the women. Well, good looks help but you still have to put in the work, folks!
I go back to what I’ve been saying all along: personality is everything. You can look gorgeous or be super handsome but what good is that if your personality is POOP? Before you say anything, I am sure the Kaceytron argument will be made.. That’s a rare situation where someone has mastered a caustic act and built an audience on powerful trolling. This should not be a goal for most people.
Now, some streamers certainly take advantage of their good looks or, umm, assets. It’s important to note that these gimmicks do not build a truly engaging or lasting audience. Some female streamers, for example, do private video sessions and boyfriend applications (yes, that is a thing). Streamers like KneeColeSlaw tread a thin line and, hey, if it works for them, cool beans! We can’t get mad at the cheap gimmicks or the streamers because the Twitch viewers keep supporting these huge channels while there are quality channels with less activity.
9. A Sub Button Makes Your Stream More Profitable
The subscribe button is just one of many ways a streamer can make money but it’s not the main revenue source for most streamers. The beauty of subscriptions is the residual income but you share 50% with Twitch. That split can also change with Google at the helm.
Donations, sponorships, affiliate marketing, endorsements, advertisements, and other methods exist for generating income. Keep in mind that the Twitch TOS prohibits “selling” of anything on your stream, which is why driving traffic to an off-site channel is key. On your own web site, it’ll be easier to set up and coordinate fundraisers, display banner ads, and generate revenue through other means. Plus you have 100% control over it, whereas on Twitch you are subject to whatever rules may be in place at the time.
Hopefully, the folks at Twitch continue to see that streamers add value to their platform. If streamers were paid outright for the content they developed, which creates opportunities for Twitch and their ad partners, it’d be costly and unsustainable. As such, I am hopeful that Twitch will sweeten the pot soon enough.
10. A Sub Button Makes Your Stream More Professional
This is a toughie because a sub button does give people the impression that you have a serious job or project at hand. The clearly-defined pricing shows people that this is not just a hobby. Twitch makes it hard to get a sub button yet there are great streamers that should have one and not-so-great ones that do have one. It’s daunting.
Having a sub button helps you draw in and retain more people. It’s ironic because Twitch expects you to grow your audience with little to no help from them. It’s a chicken-egg/horse-carriage type situation here.
I still feel too much weight is given to the sub button. The reality is that you can run your channel in a professional manner (sans the skanky aspects of what “professional” means to some) without Twitch’s blessing. As we mentioned before, the way you engage your audience, the things you do off-channel, and the overall setup makes a difference. Little things like doing song requests (while that lasts) and shouting out donators go a loooong way. Just look at what the “pro streamers” are doing and make their techniques your own.
It could be said that being a Twitch partner offers little benefit but that’d be a lie. Allowing your viewers to choose the quality of the stream is a big draw on it’s own. Regardless, you can wow your viewers without the shiny button.. But it certainly doesn’t hurt to have it.
Being a Twitch streamer is tough work but it’s a lot more fun and rewarding if you focus on the right things! #TheMoreYouKnow
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