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What is Twitch? A Brief Overview and History

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Twitch is an online live-streaming platform that was initially created for gamers. The gaming industry has substantially grown year over year for decades. Twitch capitalizes on that popularity as the top game-streaming platform in the world.

People have always watched others play video games. They sat around the television, watching each other play, or they would visit the local arcade to watch the masters. Twitch brings that pastime into the 21st century by allowing gamers to stream live to anyone wanting to watch them.  

There is more to it than watching a gamer. As the game is live, viewers can often interact with the streamer and help direct the content. Some get the opportunity to play with broadcasters with their game open on one screen and the stream open on another. The platform has grown into a community that continues to grow and thrive. 

The platform now offers several categories that allow people from around the world to produce content for their fans. You don’t necessarily have to be a gamer. Bear in mind that the majority of Twitch users are still there to watch games. If you want to stream something else, you may have to promote yourself on other platforms or social media accounts to find your audience. 

Twitch History

In 2007, Justin Kan and Emmett Shear (currently the CEO of Twitch) created the live-streaming platform Justin.tv. Though the site had many categories for content, the gaming section grew exceptionally fast. In 2011, Justin.tv split the content, renaming the gaming portion of the site Twitch.tv. Since then, Twitch has dominated the industry as far as esports broadcasting is concerned. 

The site began to take off in February 2014 when a stream called “Twitch Plays Pokemon” went viral. Gamers from around the world logged on toe Pokemon Red using commands together. The channel was viewed more than 6.5 million times, with an average of 60-70k concurrent viewers. 

Twitch.tv was purchased by Amazon on August 25, 2014, for $970 million. It is now a subsidiary of Amazon, which already owned tow other video game services: Reflexive Entertainment and  Double Helix Games. Emmett Shear remained as CEO.

In 2016, Twitch creating the “cheering” method, which allowed users to purchase Bits (click here to learn how to get them for free) to donate them to their favorite streamer. Later that year, they released Twitch Prime, which gives Amazon Prime member exclusive Twitch benefits such as additional emotes and the ability to subscribe to one streamer per month.

Social Platform for Gamers

Twitch is a great place for gamers to meet and interact with each other. Users can learn more about a particular game by watching it played by professional streamers. By joining a streamer’s online community, they can meet like-minded people who enjoy the same content they do and game with them. 

Twitch has in-built socializing services like direct-messaging (called whispers) and the ability to chat with others watching the same channel. For more information, read Twitch Basics: How to Chat, Add Friends, and Block

The platform has boosted the popularity of some games as well. While they would have been popular in their own right, games like Fortnite and League of Legends receive millions of views per month, continually fueling their presence in the gaming industry. Retro-games have also “come back to life” as people watch broadcasters play the games of their youth. 

Do People Really Earn Money on Twitch?

Many streamers earn a livable wage on Twitch. They can make money in a variety of ways through crowd-sourcing or by working with sponsors. The most common way for broadcasters to earn is through the donations and subscriptions of their followers. 

Donations can be made through third-party software or with Bits, Twitch’s on-platform currency. Viewers can subscribe to channels at one of three tiers. Tier one costs 4.99 USD, tier two costs 9.99 USD, and tier 3 costs 24.99 USD. Subscribers get to watch the channel ad-free and have access to the channel emotes that the streamer has uploaded. Many broadcasters offer additional benefits to their subscribers. If this is the case, they generally detail the perks on their profile. A channel must have Twitch affiliate status to accept Bits or subscriptions.

gamer with cash

Streamers can also earn by creating deals with sponsors or through affiliate sales. They can also make money through selling (or trading) their skills to other broadcasters.

TwitchCon

TwitchCon is an annual event (so far held in California every year) that takes place in autumn. For three days, broadcasters gather together to learn from the masters, network, meet new sponsors, and have a good time. 

The goal of the event is to celebrate gaming and the streaming community. There are general announcements about new changes to the platform and workshops for broadcasters at every level.

Twitch Competition

While Twitch is still top-dog when it comes to streaming platforms, it does have its share of competitors. While there are many platforms, the most popular are YouTube Gaming, Facebook Gaming, and Mixer. 

About the Author

Zac

Zac is a part-time tech blogger. He’s an avid gamer with a taste for old-school RPG’s and Indie Sandbox games. He excels at theory crafting and finding new ways to enjoy a well-loved game.

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