The Games You Can Stream on Twitch - dummies

The Games You Can Stream on Twitch

By Tee Morris

Along with looking at how you are Twitch streaming, you might want to take a closer look at what you are Twitch streaming. Yes, there are hundreds on hundreds of games currently streaming on Twitch. Some of these featured games are just newly released. Some may have been a hot title a few years ago. Some may even be a throwback to the classics.

But what are their directories like?

We’re going to look at the kind of video games that you can stream and talk about both the benefits and the pitfalls of what you could stream on Twitch.

Before we turn that critical eye back to our own stream, let’s visit the Directory and poke around there a bit.

  1. Go to Twitch.tv and log in with your account credentials, if you haven’t already.
  2. In the top section of your Twitch Directory, you’ll find a carousel of streams to choose from. Click on the right or left arrow on either side of the carousel to rotate through the featured streams.
    The featured streams on the Twitch carousel are the top performing Channels. Programming range from tournaments to special reveals to popular streamers running live in a game of choice.
  3. Scroll down to Live Channels You May Like and take a look at who is presently streaming.
    Live Channels looks at previous streams you have followed or watched, and, based on those analytics, offers up several streamers for you that match your profile.
  4. Scroll down to review games you have previously watched that are presently streaming, as shown.
    Twitch looks at your viewing history — not by streamers but by the games that streamers featured — and offer up other streamers all playing games that fit your interests.
  5. Scroll down to the Games You May Like section to enter specific game directories.
    Again, Twitch looks at your recent viewing and offers you direct access to these game directories.

Take another look at the figure. To the left of the Twitch Directory is a listing of your Followed Channels (the ones currently live highlighted), followed by Recommended Channels, and finally Online Friends. This side menu is just one more way to discover new streamers or new games. Through this sidebar, I’ve found some terrific streamers like OneActual and ZGphoto. Keep an eye on it for recommendations as it is always present, even when you are viewing your own or other channels.

twitch-history
Twitch looks at your viewing history and puts together a new list of streamers featuring games you enjoy for you to review.

Now that you have a comfortable grasp of Twitch’s Directory, let’s return to our own feed and look a bit closer at what we are streaming.

Twitch streaming popular games

Fortnite. Hearthstone (pictured here). League of Legends. Player Unknown Battlegrounds (also known as PUB-G). You see these games dominating the top slots of Twitch’s Directory. There doesn’t appear to be any sort of connection with these games, or at least it appears that way until you take a closer look at the games off-stream. The four games I mentioned earlier are all games that follow or are recognized by professional tournament leagues, or eSports, a multi-billion dollar industry.

twitch-hearthstone
Hearthstone, pictured here with cosplayer and multi-legend player Alkali Layke (dressed as World of Warcaft’s Valeera Sanguinar), is one of many games finding success in the multi-billion dollar industry of eSports.

You might want to roll your eyes at the notion of “professional video game athletes,” but you would be rolling your eyes at a professional sport that is a multi-billion dollar industry. Along with individuals streaming these popular games, Twitch also hosts tournament play happening across the country and around the world.

And you want to host a stream in this directory.

  • Pro: Anytime you jump into the directory for one of the top games in the Twitch directory, you are targeting an audience that is hungry for this content. Twitch viewers actively jump into directories for Fortnite, Overwatch, Rocket League, and others as they want to see how others play.
  • Pro: Twitch audiences may visit these popular game stream in the hope that hosts will open their streams to Chat and invite them to squad up for a few rounds. These games invite a crowd by default, and depending on the host’s trust in his or her Chat, are opportunities to learn a few new tips.
  • Con: The inherent problem with streaming popular games? Popularity. Yes, you are streaming the popular strategy game League of Legends, but depending on the time of day and what is happening in Twitch, hundreds or thousands of others are streaming it. And if any of the eSports teams are streaming these games, either in competition or just for fun, audiences will flock to those streams without question. Popularity is a double-edged sword, and it may yield mixed if not disappointing results.

Twitch streaming games you enjoy

What about streaming games not necessarily in the Top Ten or even Top Twenty of the Twitch Directory, but streaming a game that you are driven to play? These games can run the gambit from turn-based strategy games, to epic adventure games, to MMO-style games: Destiny, Sea of Thieves, Horizon Zero Dawn, or the juggernaut that is World of Warcraft. On drops of downloadable content (or DLC), or the release of a new version of the game, these titles may rally for top slots in the directory, so they share the potential for stream growth as you would find with popular games.

  • Pro: With titles like Destiny (versions 1 and 2), Horizon Zero Dawn, and Sea of Thieves, there is a grind aspect to the game. A grind in gaming terms is a stretch or a challenge in the game that involves a lot of repetition and tests a gamer’s drive and determination in order to earn a treasure at the end of said grind. During these moments, gamers find opportunities to connect with their Chat, jumping into conversations, kicking off a new topic, and eliciting a response from them. Grinds are great for streamers as it is easy to multitask during these long stretches.
  • Pro: Twitch audiences are pretty intuitive and can tell when a streamer is enjoying themselves. If you are playing a game that you really enjoy, it is obvious. And if you are having fun, Chat will want to take part in that fun as well. While my own stream numbers fluctuate, I can say that some of my best, consistent numbers came when I was playing the 2013 reboot of the classic adventure heroine, Lara Croft, in Tomb Raider. Chat celebrated my “A-ha!” moments with me, and even reacted with me on some of my more tense, action-filled moments.
  • Con: If a game is particularly engaging for you, you run a risk of forgetting that the world is watching. When I was streaming Detroit: Become Human, a choose-your-own-adventure-style of game, I had forgotten that I was streaming … for over half an hour. I blinked and suddenly realized, “Oh yeah, people are watching,” but even after touching base with Chat, I slipped into silent running once again because the storytelling in this game is just that good. While these games are excellent for you in your own gaming experience, it may not be the best kind of game to stream if you are so immersed that you forget about your Chat.

Twitch streaming retro games

It’s hard to define retro games, as a game can be five years old and considered “retro” by some gamers. For this book, I define retro games as being a game that reaches back to the early days. Titles like Tetris, Super Mario Brothers, and — if you can hook up that old ColecoVision — Zaxxon come to mind. These were the games that started as coin-operated video games and then arrived into homes coast-to-coast and around the world. These titles may be harder to stream on account of the hardware needed to make the stream happen, but there is an audience for these games.

  • Pro: Summed up in a single word: nostalgia. Watching modern day audiences playing classics from the early days is just plain fun. As many of these games were built around a grind, the ability to multitask and connect with your Chat is quite easy. It can also be fun to watch players skilled with modern games struggle and noodle through what should be “simple” games but turn out being something of a challenge. At the core of this is an appreciation, if not a romantic look, at the games that came before.
  • Pro: Playing retro games may not be high in the Twitch Directory, but on account of their iconic nature, people may actively seek out these titles. Retro games sometimes fall between popular games and those titles you enjoy playing, and it is that novelty and reputation in being throwbacks to video game history that make searches for these games worth mentioning.
  • Con: As mentioned earlier, it’s not software that is a problem but hardware. Obviously, older games and the consoles they were built for were not necessarily built or optimized for streaming. So you are going to be streaming off a PC (which we will explore in Chapter 6), implementing hardware that you may have to seek out on eBay and other websites specializing in jury-rigging old consoles with new computers and making them work. So be prepared for some extra mechanical challenges ahead of you.
  • Con: The retro directory is a collective This means instead of looking for a specific retro game in its own category, games like Metroid, Mario Brothers, Excite Bike, and Megaman are all found in one directory. If viewers are looking for a specific game, viewers have to work through the entire directory hoping to come across the retro game they are interested in watching.