Ah, Twitch streaming.
The dream job of nearly every gamer that ever gamed. Yours truly included. There’s far more to it these days than just simply turning on your camera, booting up your favorite game and going live.
The golden age of low effort livestreaming being a seemingly easy pathway to success is gone. Or was it ever really that simple? Who knows. Nowadays, you need to have a USP, a unique selling point, the thing that separates you from the crowd. And it better be something special, relatable, epic, awesome, funny... the list of adjectives goes on.
TL;DR: Succeeding as a Twitch streamer is challenging. Just ask me. I’ve spent the better part of 4 years trying to build up my channel and I’ve barely managed to claw my way past 400 followers.
It sounds impressive on paper but my channel is only below average. The reality is that I’ve only been able to keep my average live views hovering between 4-5. And if my anecdotal evidence isn’t enough, just go to the Twitch subreddit on any given day, you’re guaranteed to find several new threads with the same tired questions:
How do I get views?
What can I do to build my viewership?
Why is nobody watching me?
What is the circumference of a moose?
Okay, that last one maybe not. It’s more of a “42 is the meaning of life” kind of thing. The rest of the questions may very well also be just as elusive, though. If there were straightforward answers for how to build a Twitch viewership, everyone would have a successful channel. But the questions keep getting asked, day after day, and you know what that means? Market opportunity!
"A delayed game is eventually good, a bad game is bad forever."
For every 10,000 streaming dreamers - a number I’m pulling out of a bath duckie’s bottom hole - there is one Twitch “guru” or “coach” that is attempting to capitalize on said market. It’s quite lucrative, I’ll tell you. A successful person who’s well connected in the streaming industry giving out the secrets to being a pro Twitch streamer? Heck, I’ve fallen for it. I still do. Because I want to make a solid living playing video games. That’s what all of us 5 Viewer Andys and Sarahs would sell our souls to achieve. It’s like a whole new self-help industry for gamers and it’s just as flawed.
A SUPER common piece of advice I hear from streamer Tubers like Harris Heller (great hair) is to make content outside of Twitch and drive viewers to your channel. The premise is actually sound because Twitch isn’t a discoverable platform. Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Tiktok all have far better tools for discovering new content. Last I checked, though, growing accounts on any of these platforms was just as hard. Perhaps even harder. Take YouTube as an example. How many channels exist on the biggest video platform on the planet? Millions more than on Twitch. In a nutshell, it will take a lot of effort before people get the slightest whiff of your content. I won’t deny that this advice is great for anyone who can afford to spend hours a day devoting time to content creation but that is the thing. There’s a difference between being a Twitch streamer and a content creator.
A streamer generates content in tandem with their community. People who go on livestreams expect to exchange a few words with the bloke behind the camera. People who scroll through Tiktok aren’t looking to be hassled by going onto another platform. Chances are the streamer isn’t live at that moment anyway. Even if you were to convince a few of these scrolling addicts to follow your Twitch channel, how many will actually join in on a regular basis?
Remember, views are more important than follows. I don’t have the stats but I’ll venture a guess that it’s a small percentage. This works for folks with 5-6 figure accounts on multiple platforms. It will take several years for someone just starting out to see the fruits of their labor. All the while feeling forced to do something they didn’t want to do.
The bottom line goes like this: what the average Twitch streamer needs isn’t viewers; it’s TWITCH viewers.
Those people who are on the platform because of its interactivity. A livestreamer who wants to see some growth on Twitch needs to play the Twitch game. The platform has abysmal discoverability but that doesn’t mean people aren’t browsing in search of someone new to watch. Naturally, most won’t bother scrolling to the bottomless depths of the League of Legends and Fortnite categories to find small streamers.
Those games won’t get you far unless you’re a venerable god. Sacrifices need to be made in the form of playing something with a healthy viewership yet not a lot of streamers serving them. And that’s just the tip of the Twitch streaming grind.
It’s not the Get-Famous-Quick solution you are promised by the “gurus”. What it does ensure, though, is that you can be placed on the path of eventually gathering your 1000 true fans. But that, my friends, is a story for another post.
Like a good manga once in a while? Below are a few picks for you to enjoy when not gaming!
Yannis is a veteran gamer with over 25 years of experience across the spectrum of genres. He enjoys spending time with his family, livestreaming on Twitch and occasionally dishing out unsolicited dad advice. Also catch him on IG.