How to integrate Twitch into any part of the game development lifecycle
In 2017, an average of 21 games were released per day on Steam and last year, the global games industry gross revenue was approximately $138 billion. It’s a crowded market. And as a game developer, you’re not only competing with an increasing amount of other games, but also other screens, social media, other forms of entertainment — and real life.
Differentiation is now more important than ever.
Games are Better with Twitch
Every day on average, more than 15 million visitors tune into Twitch, three million streamers go live per month, and last year, audiences enjoyed about 505 billion minutes of content.
Watching others play video games on Twitch has massively grown. For instance, in February 2019, EA released Apex Legends on Twitch without prior announcement or much traditional marketing. The game saw more than 2.5 million players within 24 hours after release, and had 25 million players by the end of its first week. The game also generated more hours watched than any other game on Twitch in its launch week.
Twitch fosters gaming communities through conversation, interaction, and giving audiences a way to directly support their favorite content creators. In 2017, they sent 16 billion chat messages and interacted with Twitch Extensions 4.9 billion times.
Twitch is changing the way games are marketed by being a truly direct interactive conduit. Game developers now have access to direct and consistent relationships with their fans through Twitch creators, who are the ambassadors of their communities.
By integrating with Twitch, game developers can:
- Acquire new users by creating influencer campaigns, cross-promotional incentives, utilizing Twitch Prime, doing game launches for pre-orders, and more.
- Create new engaging experiences for Twitch viewers and streamers by extending the gameplay and turning viewers into active participants in the game.
- Retain users by creating a watch/play loop by driving players to watch your game on Twitch and incentivize viewers to go back to the game.
- Help your influencers and brand monetize by selling merchandise, in-game-items, and other benefits on Twitch.
Game producers, developers, and marketing leads at game companies may know Twitch is big, that Twitch viewers watch a lot of gaming content, and that Twitch is influential in promoting games. But you might not know the best practices for integrating Twitch into games, for launching games on Twitch, or for tapping into Twitch to grow and sustain live titles.
This game developer playbook is designed to give producers, developers, and marketing leads actionable next steps to integrate Twitch into different stages of a game’s lifecycle including:
- A strategy for growing hours watched and revenue on Twitch.
- Ways to increase pre-orders of games.
- A strategy to re-engage lapsed players and re-engage players for live services.
- Ways to turn viewers on Twitch into players.
Game Phases & High-level Recommendations
Most games are built in a stage-gated process with up to eight gates, which are distilled here into three major phases:
Phase 1 — Development. This phase encompasses everything from pre-production through first production, production, and alpha. Games that are in development are usually unannounced. We recommend that games in development integrate core, foundational Twitch features to help drive and engage new users.
Phase 2 — The Road to Launch & Launch. The road to launch includes announcement and beta. Launch includes the launch event itself and the first month after launch. In the road to launch and launch, games concentrate on building a great product, generating awareness of their game, and on acquiring users. We recommend that during this phase, games work with Twitch to promote their game to acquire new users.
Phase 3 — Live Games. Twitch’s largest and most watched games are live games; nine out of 10 top titles on Twitch in 2018 were released before 2018. Twitch has a set of programs to help publishers acquire new users, re-engage lapsed users, and retain them in game.
Let’s dive into each phase.
The best time to integrate core Twitch features is when games are in active development.
At this stage, you care about:
- Driving play. Build hooks to drive users to play your game after launch.
- Making your game fun to watch. Keep users engaged in your game when they’re not actively playing by creating entertaining viewing experiences.
- Ensuring simple implementation. Twitch makes the tools and services you need to easily integrate Twitch into your game.
- Tracking measurable impact. Ensure you can track the impact of Twitch programs on core KPIs in future phases.
Use these programs to achieve your goals:
Identity is foundational for most Twitch integrations. It enables your application to take actions on behalf of a Twitch account or access certain data about a user’s account. We recommend bidirectionally integrating Twitch identity between Twitch and game publisher accounts so that you can get information, such as in-game items, from Twitch as well as post to Twitch about a user and/or game state, such as a streamer’s or viewer’s stats. Twitch supports OAuth 2.0 and OIDC (OpenID Connect).
Beta Campaign with Bounty Board
Recruiting streamers to promote your beta using Bounty Board drives deep engagement with influencer campaigns through dozens or hundreds of small to mid-sized communities and a streamlined self-service activation that delivers brand-safe content with unparalleled engagement from viewers. You can easily distribute betas to streamers and drive a high degree of interest during the campaign. You can also utilize Extensions to drive pre-orders of your game and offer exclusive perks for Twitch users in betas by having bonuses translate into rewards in game.
Twitch mobilized Bounty Board’s community of influencers to generate excitement during the beta of Darwin Project. The launch helped them reach an engaged audience of gamers who experienced the game together and provided valuable feedback. 113 influencers activated the Bounty, resulting in 51,000 total views and 60 percent of viewers stayed on the channel for two or more minutes. We strongly recommend Bounty Board for indie games.
Twitch viewers love to interact with streamers and with other members of the community, particularly when they can help streamers. By creating ways for viewers and streamers to interact and starting this process when your game is in development, you can help to grow your game’s audience at launch and know how to re-engage them later on.
The Darwin Project built an Extension that helped streamers play in Show Director mode and have viewers affect the game by helping or hindering the streamer. It’s a prime example of how an interactive Extension can include the viewers, which makes it more fun to watch and can help grow a strong community for your game on Twitch.
Drops allows game developers to offer special offers, content, or in-game items to Twitch viewers who watch your games. Drops convert viewers into players, because viewers get in-game items that are only worth anything if they play the game; they need to play to derive benefit from it. Dozens of game developers have used Drops to improve player retention and spend.
Twitch enables you to promote discovery of your game’s mods through the Twitch desktop app — where you can also manage them — and to drive additional discovery with a mod manager Extension on Twitch; the Extension allows a streamer to show off what mods they are playing to their community and then enables people to download and play the mod with their favorite streamer. Twitch also supports mod developers through a rewards program. Other developers are building free content for your game, which helps with organic retention and acquisition.
Blessing and Curses is a mod for Stardew Valley that adds a random chance to gain a random buff or debuff every x amount of days. If a streamer connects their Twitch account and channel name, Chat can choose from three randomly shown buff or debuff options. By using Twitch as a focus, the mod gives viewers a way to interact and affect game play on a whole new level.
Development Phase Pro tips!
Streamer Mode. We recommend enabling streamers to self-identify in game through a setting and allowing them to hide sensitive UI elements. For example, prominent streamers can get hundreds of friend requests and invites per hour, and enabling a Streamer Mode can make it easier for them to play.
Streamer User Testing. We recommend user testing your game with streamers on Twitch regularly throughout development.
Things to think about
When you’re in the Development stage of your game, think about:
- Implementing Twitch Identity to integrate your game with Twitch.
- Harnessing Bounty Board for beta campaigns, doing Drops campaigns, and embracing mods to make your game more fun to watch, which can help turn viewers into players.
Engaging with streamers when your game is in active development and building a campaign with on-Twitch beats from announcement through launch will help you maximize promotion efforts and ultimately, drive more interest in your game.
At this stage, you care about:
- Awareness. Drive awareness of your game among Twitch’s 28 million monthly active gamers.
- Consideration. Qualify users by motivating them to link their Twitch account with their publisher account.
- Pre-orders. Drive future sales for your game.
- Acquisition. Recruit more players for your game.
Use these programs to achieve your goals:
Interactive Announce Campaign with Extensions
The best way to announce a new title on Twitch is to drive traffic to your official channel, create some type of interactivity to build hype while users wait for your official announcement, and then share your official announcement. By asking viewers to link their accounts during the campaign, you can capture emails to re-engage the interested audience.
Bethesda’s “Tablet” Extension for Elder Scrolls Online: Elsweyr turned viewers into active participants in its reveal. The Extension unlocked the announcement with viewer interaction; 511,000 unique viewers watched the stream on the trailer launch day. There was an additional Extension that incentivized viewer participation with in-game and IRL prizes as well as the ability to pre-order the game.
Broadcast with Extensions at Major Trade Shows
E3 is generally the largest week on Twitch. In 2018, people watched over 800 million minutes of E3 content. The total viewership of E3 content year over year increased 71 percent and unique views 81 percent. Twitch also often sees hundreds of thousands of viewers for Blizzcon and other publisher-specific trade events. We recommend showing your pre-show, show, and post-show on your official channel and also making it available for co-streaming to amplify the impact.
During E3 last year, Bethesda created their own Extension, which asked viewers to link their ESO and Bethesda.net accounts to enhance the viewing experience of their Showcase — complete with trivia, polls, and an opportunity to get free items. This encouraged viewers to not only watch, but also interact with the stream and amplified coverage of announcements well beyond the audience at E3.
Launch Campaign with Bounty Board
You only get to launch a game once, so pulling all the levers is critical. You can use Bounty Board to recruit streamers and run interactive ads on Twitch to maximize lift during your game’s launch window. You can also use Extensions on your official channel to drive sales.
Advertising on Twitch isn’t static. It isn’t one-way. We offer standard IAB display and video media as well as native opportunities. Custom executions are also available. Twitch Ads reach a highly engaged audience of mostly males between the ages of 18 and 34. More than 15 million are unique daily visitors and account for two million peak concurrent users site wide.
Apex Legends used ads on Twitch to promote the upcoming launch, which helped result in 25 million unique users in a week.
Drops allows game developers to offer special offers, content, or in-game items to Twitch viewers who watch your games. Drops convert viewers into players, because viewers get in-game items that are only worth anything if they play the game; they need to be a player to derive benefit from it. Dozens of game developers have used Drops to improve player retention and spend.
Rainbow Six Siege ran a Drops re-engagement campaign with new character skins and charms as a way to retain players.
Allowing other developers to build content for your game helps with organic retention during launch.
Road to Launch and Launch pro tips!
Account link. Remember that you can ask viewers to link their accounts during these campaigns, so you can capture email and re-engage the qualified audience.
Developer streams. Twitch users love to hear from devs. We recommend regularly updating gamers about upcoming releases and beta campaigns. You can amplify your impact by inviting Twitch streamers into your studios to play games and costream these updates. Paradox Interactive, for instance, regularly broadcasts updates — to approximately 50,000 concurrent viewers — about new releases and new features followed by experts and streamers playing the games and answering questions from their community.
Things to think about
In your Road to Launch and Launch phase, think about:
- Registering your game on Twitch to make your game discoverable and to get access to more Twitch tools like the Twitch API, Drops, Insights and Analytics, and Extension development.
- Using Bounty Board, various campaigns with Extensions, and Ads to build buzz with streamers and viewers and get people excited to play your game.
- Trying Drops, Mods, and Extensions to retain users with new, unique experiences found only on Twitch.
Twitch helps games acquire new users and engage existing players. The strongest live games drive a loop between Twitch and the game, encouraging players to watch on Twitch and Twitch encouraging users to buy and play the game.
At this stage, you care about:
- Acquiring new users. Get new users into your game.
- Engaging and retaining active users. Increase daily and monthly active users (DAU and MAU) by converting Twitch viewers into players.
- Re-engaging lapsed users. Get ex-players to play your game again.
Use these programs to achieve your goals:
Open sourcing your game and letting other developers create new content for your games can help with organic acquisition after your game is live.
Minecraft is almost synonymous with modding. There are a total of 55,263 Minecraft mods made discoverable on Twitch with over 4.7 million users and over 7 billion mod downloads. These mods give viewers near-constant new ways to play and watch the game, keeping it popular — even a decade after its launch.
Drops allows game developers to offer special offers, content, or in-game items to Twitch viewers who watch your games. Drops convert viewers into players. Dozens of game developers have used Drops to improve player retention and spend as well as acquire new players. Twitch also likely has more of your lapsed users than you do and can contact them better, so by using Drops, you can drive these users back into your title.
Warframe created tens of thousands of new spenders in game and reinvigorated a lapsed user base using a Drops campaign run on Twitch. 41% of the people who participated in the campaign had never spent and 20% of them spent about $10 on average.
After your game is released, you can use Bounty Board to recruit streamers to promote your game, which drives deep engagement with dozens or hundreds of small to mid-sized communities through a streamlined self-service activation that delivers brand-safe content with unparalleled engagement from viewers.
The Grand Tour ran a Bounty Board campaign after the game was released to drive more acquisition. 89 broadcasters took part, which resulted in 93,000 total views and 55,000 unique viewers, 59% of whom watched the game for more than two minutes.
Twitch Prime provides in-game items, downloadable games, Amazon.com discounts, Twitch community perks and much more. Twitch Prime is one of the fastest growing Amazon Prime benefits focused on supporting games and gamers for over 100 million worldwide Prime members. Game partners benefit from our service through support of new player acquisition, increased awareness on Amazon and Twitch audiences.
In a 60-day period, a major game studio saw a 20% increase in session days and a 93% increase in average revenue per user (ARPU), which resulted in $10 million estimated incremental revenue — all through a single Twitch Prime campaign.
Extensions are apps for Twitch. They can be used after a game has been launched to create new experiences on top of the game — such as polls, predictions, trivia, etc. — to aid in acquisition and re-engage lapsed players.
Built with the goal of driving viewer engagement for the FIFA eWorld Cup tournament, FIFA built an Extension that allowed viewers to predict match outcomes in real-time, with live accuracy scoring and the chance for the most accurate teams to win in-game rewards via account-linking. This created a new engagement opportunity for streamers and viewers to reconnect to the game.
Interactive Extensions and Integrations
Unlike engagement Extensions that are built on top of the viewing experience, interactive Extensions and Integrations are part of the game and allow developers to create unique ways for streamers, viewers, and games to interact. Extensions and integrations can build a community that loves watching and playing your game. Creating an Extension that allows viewers to support streamers through Bits or Cheers while they’re playing is a win-win for both audiences.
Motion Twin’s Dead Cells launch was built entirely around a Twitch strategy. An integration that allows viewers to control game play through Twitch Chat was a core part of their “second” launch, where they used the integration as a way to re-engage streamers and viewers. This allowed them to reach a huge audience during the second launch week. They essentially doubled all-time minutes watched count in a month. Since then, the game has seen a baseline pickup in the amount of people continuing to stream the game after an initial playthrough and the base audience numbers have gone up.
Twitch is the most popular site for esports and can help increase viewership and convert viewers to players.
We recommend incentivizing viewers to predict who will win active esports events. We’ve seen in trials during major esports events that this can drive 60% of Twitch viewers to interact and hundreds of thousands of Twitch viewers back into game.
Twitch and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) worked together to let PUBG Global Invitational viewers vote via a Twitch Extension on who would win each round of the world finals of the event. More than one million people tuned into the world finals, more than 70 percent interacted with the Extension, and they won more than 350,000 crates of in-game items.
Twitch Rivals is an exclusive esports series designed from the ground up for Twitch streamers and viewers. This season will include over 100 events featuring new formats, games, interactive Extensions, and millions of dollars in prize money.
EA saw 2.5 million hours watched during their Apex Legends Rivals event on February 12, which helped contribute to the game’s overall 7 million hours watched on that single day.
If you have an existing esport, we recommend creating an interactive Extension to allow the viewer to change perspectives, to get real-time stats for participants, and to get build guides and other information.
Global Offensive FACEIT Majors, StatsHelix exposed internal game data to power new experiences for the tournament viewers, and using Genvid’s data capture and web APIs made those interactive and synchronized to the Twitch video frame. Some of the features — including a customized UI, which allowed viewers to change the weapon’s crosshair view, the ability to call the scoreboard at any point in the game, and a live-updating minimap that showed a more detailed view of the main map, including player positions — demonstrated the pent up demand for viewers to be a part of the game rather than simply watching a game.
Live Games Phase pro tips!
Developer streams. Twitch users love to hear from devs. We recommend regularly updating gamers about new features and programs in your live games. You can amplify your impact by inviting Twitch streamers into your studios to play games and costream these updates.
Insights and Analytics: Quarterly Insights. Review your insights quarterly to understand overall viewership and broadcast metrics for each of your games listed on Twitch. In addition to viewership, you will see relevant data that can help you grow your game audience by investing in the right broadcasters with the right Twitch products. For instance, Quarterly Twitch Insights provide developers a view of broadcasters who are trending on a game title, how active a community is during the streams, what other content the community is watching, game growth by geography, and opportunities to engage streamers through Twitch services like Bounty Board.
Things to think about
In the Live Game phase, think about:
- Using Extensions, Drops, and Twitch Prime to attract new streamers and viewers and reward those who already play your game to keep them coming back for more.
- Setting up esports events with Extensions that incentivize and engage viewers to make your game more fun to watch.
The growth of the Twitch community has opened up fresh avenues for game developers to attract new players, reengage lapsed players, and create communities that love watching and interacting with games.
By harness the dynamic between player, creator, and game, developers can make games that people play, watch, pay for, and play again.
Twitch tries to make this even easier by giving you the tools and strategies to be successful.
With this playbook, we hope that you now have:
- A strategy for growing hours watched and revenue on Twitch with Extensions, Bounty Board, and Twitch Prime.
- Steps to increase pre-orders of games through beta campaigns, launch campaigns complete with major trade show announcements, and interactive announce Extensions.
- A strategy to re-engage lapsed players with Twitch Prime, Extensions, Drops, and esports events.
- Ways to turn viewers on Twitch into payers using Extensions, Drops, and Twitch Prime.
Besides the recommended programs at whichever stage you are in your development cycle, there are a few things you can do now to see the benefits of Twitch integration immediately:
- Get even more examples and information in our full Game Developer Playbook: bit.ly/TwitchGameDevPlaybook
- Register your game on Twitch. This will allow you to set up campaigns, control box art, and utilize Twitch Insights and Analytics for your games.
- Visit the dev.twitch.tv site for documentation and how-to guides.
Ready to build interactive experiences on Twitch? Start now!