A Beginner’s Guide to Using Twitch

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Who knew that there would be a market for people sitting and watching others playing online games? It just so happens that there is quite a sizeable market, with millions of people regularly tuning in to the live-streaming platform Twitch, which is now home to more than 100 million unique monthly viewers.

The roots of this platform stem from Justin.TV, which was founded in 2007 and gave anyone the freedom to broadcast video online via their own accounts. So popular was Justin.TV’s “Gaming” section that the decision was made to rebrand the Gaming section as its own entity: Twitch.TV. Although Justin.TV was eventually shut down in August 2014, Twitch was acquired by Amazon in a $970 million deal and has continued to go from strength to strength.

Twitch is fast becoming home to many gaming celebrities who use the platform as an opportunity to connect with fellow gamers, making almost as much money from their streaming as their professional gaming. In online poker, for instance, professional stars such as Daniel Negreanu have built up loyal followings so much so that they would even watch him visit the toilet!

I think what makes Twitch so popular is that it gives ordinary people an opportunity to have their say on a truly global stage. While only a privileged few get the opportunity to play for their favorite NFL or EPL soccer teams, anyone with an internet connection can stream their gaming action to a potential audience of millions.

If you’re a Twitch beginner and you want to know the hardware required to start streaming via your own Twitch channel, we’ve put together a list of everything you’ll need.

A rock-solid computer or games console – A powerful desktop computer is certainly necessary if you are going to stream PC games. You’ll need at least 8GB of RAM and a powerful graphics card capable of supporting your game as well as your streaming. A reliable internet connection is recommended, too, with minimum upload speeds of 3MB per second being ideal. If you’re streaming games console action, make sure you download and install the Twitch app, which lets you get started very quickly.

Your own Twitch account – Creating a Twitch.TV account is free and available to all. Though you do need your own account to create a channel, you can customize to your heart’s content, e.g. avatars, banners, and unique descriptions of your streaming.

Dedicated broadcasting software – Arguably, the most important tool in your Twitch streaming arsenal is intuitive broadcasting software. Both XSplit (Gamecaster) and Open Broadcasting Software tend to be the most commonly used as they are free to download; although you may need to pay for the premium version if you wish to utilize some of its more advanced features.

Audio and visual hardware – I can’t overstate the importance of having a high-quality microphone and webcam. After all, it’s what you have to say and show that will make or break your Twitch channel!

Building your Twitch audience won’t happen overnight. However, Twitch’s very own director of public relations Chase believes that continuously engaging with your viewers and making them feel involved is what makes the leading channels so successful.

“[Our top streamers] are humble, friendly, highly interactive, and treat the people in their chat as if they are the stars of the show,” said Chase.

Those who grow substantial audiences on Twitch are offered a potentially lucrative partnership. The deal enables streamers to get a cut of broadcast revenues and offer viewers “exclusive” access in exchange for a monthly subscription fee. Find your niche and get your streaming approach right and the rewards are limitless!

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