Choosing what game, or games, you’ll be streaming is crucial to the success of a fledgling Twitch stream. As a platform, Twitch provides many opportunities for native discovery of your channel. Understanding how to take advantage of this is what separates an amateur streamer from a professional.
Above all else, you should evaluate the games you already enjoy playing. While the games you enjoy may not be ideal for streaming, your audience will notice if you aren’t having fun and are likely to tune out. Certain games will provide opportunities for gaining viewers or subscribers, but you run a higher risk of burnout when you don’t enjoy the game you’re playing.
Stream A Game You're Experienced With
When it comes to streaming a game you’re experienced with or enjoy, there are a few different ways to approach them correctly. We'll explain some ways to choose the right style below.
Personally, I watch a lot of Magic: The Gathering streams. MTG has a lot of competitive support, with top tier players bringing home up to $50,000 a tournament. Because of the game's competitive background, it's several thousand viewers on Twitch tend to gravitate towards competitive streamers.
Some people like to watch streams of the actual competition - commentary is only secondary, it's about the tension of competition. The more popular option, however, are streams that provide competitive information and educate their viewers.
If you can provide unique and informative content about a competitive game, especially one that has a fairly large following on Twitch already, you are off to a great start.
If you can't get competitive with a game, you should ask yourself: is it a creative outlet? People love to watch the creative process and will be able to develop a better personal connection with you and your stream if they can identify with you creatively. Creative, non-video game streams themselves pull in a respectable amount of viewers by themselves. When this is combined with gameplay people enjoy already, you end up with a games such as Minecraft.
Creative streams are likely to build a bit slower than their competitive alternatives, however, many find them much more rewarding. Viewers tend to be more invested as they watch you design, build and talk about your in-game creations.
Getting your viewers involved is an excellent way to grow your stream and keep your viewers coming back day after day. If you're streaming a game that allows some freedom in how you build, explore or play it - ask you chat for their input!
Viewers love to contribute to the gameplay and outcome of a stream. You may end up with wacky suggestions from your chat, but they will definitely be more engaged.
The city-building genre of games can bring in a very loyal following if you are able to balance both chat interaction and your gameplay well. Viewers can suggest things to build or try out in games, and this generally gets your chat to be more active than usual as an added benefit.
If you can’t get creative or competitive in the game, try getting creative with how you approach the game. Can you do speed runs? Mods? Marathons? Can you up the stakes in some way?
Anything you can do to set your stream apart from others in your category will help you to get ahead, especially if you’re streaming a popular game. A popular idea that tends to do quite well is going through a game series from the start, such as the God of War collection.
Viewers will know that for the next few days or even weeks, they can tune into your channel and know what type of gameplay to expect. People love to revisit old classics from their childhood, and the effect of nostalgia for a viewer is a very strong one.
Choosing A Game By The Numbers
There is one major benefit to streaming games such as League of Legends, Counterstrike or Hearthstone that are very popular: there are tons of viewers already there. Being able to siphon viewers from the top may get you the followers you need to get ahead.
This is negated, however, by the one major con: there are a lot of streamers already there, too. When trying to swing the signal to noise ratio in your favor, you should look for creative ways to approach popular games or look for games on the rise.
If you want to choose the best possible game from a business standpoint, you’ll want to stream a game that people are watching, but not streaming. Many streamers have noted that they had the most success streaming games with more than 100 but less than 500 viewers.
A good rule of thumb for new streamers is to look for a game that has roughly 50 viewers for every 1 live streamer.
You may want to take a ratio approach to this. A good rule of thumb for new streamers is to look for a game that has roughly 50 viewers for every 1 live streamer.
Choose Games That Fit Your Style
You don't have to stream just one game, of course. You can instead stream a specific style or genre of games. This may be board games, role playing games, horror games, or anything else. For a new streamer, it is highly recommended that you stream games that fall into these categories: audience participation, indie, and new releases.
Audience participation games, like Quiplash, help to develop an interpersonal connection with your viewers. Much like creative games, indie games are likely to pique the interest of people browsing through Twitch, and new releases are likely to spike in viewers who are looking for new games. (Note: games that are on sale are also a good option, as you may serve as someone’s free trial or review.)
Before choosing any stream style, consider the audience you are looking to cultivate. If you’re looking for an audience that is interested in Call of Duty, streaming the hot indie game may not be the best choice. It is imperative to know going into your stream who you are hoping to appeal to.
To recap, choosing what games you will stream is an important choice for your Twitch channel because it can inform who will watch your streams, and how many people will tune in. Picking a game purely for the popularity gains may help boost you, but you will want to stream games you enjoy in the long term.
Having a set approach to the game you choose, whether competitive or creative, will help you find your footing. Choosing a game, or style of game is the first step in determining and growing your audience and will inform the future of your stream from the first sub to the millionth.