Earlier this year Twitch announced the video game streaming service would begin selling games this Spring. The new partnership with streamers will allow you to buy the game you’re watching being streamed, while benefiting the streamer. Other in-game content will also be for sale and Twitch even has its own ‘bits’ currency.
Since its humble beginning as a gaming section on Justin.tv, Twitch has evolved into what some call a monopoly. Now owned by Amazon but still managed by the original CEO Emmett Shear, Twitch also owns Curse, Inc. As a supporter of eSports and now owned by Amazon, it makes sense for Twitch to get bigger and better. If you want to know what’s up with all the changes but don’t want to read 5 different blogs, you’ve come to the right place.
Twitch’s new option to buy games and in-game items through streams
Soon a button will appear on the familiar UI of Twitch that viewers are so used to. This will only apply to games through Twitch and you will need an Amazon account to make purchases. Streamers will receive 5% of the sale, Twitch receives 25% and the developer/publisher of the game will get the remaining 70%. Viewers who purchase a game from their favorite partnered streams will also get a Twitch Crate which has a random reward such as badges, emotes, or ‘bits’ for cheering.
Some gamers feel taking a 30% cut like that of Steam without offering much in return is a bit risky. But it seems like one of the main benefits here is that streamers who take the time to promote games are getting a little back from both developers and Twitch. The move is no surprise after Twitch’s own version of Amazon Prime, Twitch Prime, already offered discounts on games and game-related items.
At launch games are all priced in US dollars but support for other currencies is coming in the future. The first lineup of developers and publishers whose games will be available on Twitch this Spring include:
- Ubisoft – For Honor
- Telltale Games – Minecraft
- Digital Extremes – Unreal, The Darkness
- Hi-Rez Studios – Paladins, SMITE
- tinyBuild – Party Hard, Punch Club
- Paradox Interactive – Crusader Kings II, Stellaris
- Trion Worlds – Rift, The Secret World
- Vlambeer & more.
Gamers can download games and play them through the Twitch launcher similar to Uplay or use developer’s launchers directly. Players can get games and in-game items by using account linking with certain games thanks to Twitch’s new Drops system.
For example, in January Paladins had a reward event where linking your Twitch TV and Paladins accounts got you rewards. Linking accounts would activate Ying and her Illusory Mirror Weapon skin in your Paladins account. Further, watching people stream Paladins or SMITE gave viewers a chance to win free chests, crystals, and skins. It’s hard to disagree with getting free stuff while you watch streams, something that many of us already do regularly.
Twitch ‘bits’ and Cheer System
Bits are basically Twitch’s currency system and it goes along with the new cheer system whose beta began back in June 2016. The cheer/bit system opens up animated emotes to support your favorite streamers which you buy with bits. Custom cheermotes are available for use by any viewer, not just subscribers. However, cheermotes can’t be used in other Partnered streamer’s channels.
Of course, your favorite emotes are available, animated, via the Gem icon such as Kreygasm, Kappa, and Swiftrage. Streamers can also make their own custom animated cheermotes and receiving cheers gives them 1 cent per bit used in a cheer. Viewers who cheer regularly can earn badges to show their support and streamers can now pin a top cheer as well.
Additionally, an option will be added for viewers to gain bits for free by choosing to watch a 30-second ad or fill out a survey. The option is in testing with a few users currently and will usually gift 5 bits but could gift up to 100.
Twitch introduces 1080p/60 fps video quality and Twitch Desktop app
March 16th marked the launch of the Twitch Desktop app beta which is a reboot of the old Curse client. The client includes mod/addon management and many similar features to Discord like creating your own server. Streamers can attach their stream for view directly in their channels and connect with viewers outside the browser. Twitch’s desktop app is also used to download and play games people have bought through Twitch TV.
Video streaming quality also got an update with changes like no longer limiting ingest bitrate to 3.5 megabits. Twitch’s official recommendation is 3-6 megabits for most streams leaning towards the higher end for 1080p streams or faster games. New transcodes also rolled out giving viewers more choices while watching. Just remember a stable stream will always be better than a laggy high-quality stream.