Hello again and welcome to the second part of my series on how to make Twitch-friendly mobile games. Click here to read my first post on whether or not you need to integrate a streaming SDK.
In this post, I'll talk about making your game technically easy for broadcasters to stream your game and how to enable compelling content.
While there shouldn’t be a need for a game developer to invest a lot of engineering work to make their mobile game ready to be shown on Twitch, technical decisions can dramatically affect how easy it is for a broadcaster to stream a game. And while Twitch streamers will often go a long way to accommodate content that they think is compelling, reducing the amount of friction needed to add your game can only increase its appeal.
Tip: DO make it technically easy for a broadcaster to stream your game – and for a fan to watch it!
As I mentioned earlier, streaming gameplay is simply one part of the entire experience that a streamer builds. But that doesn’t mean that the gameplay is not central to the stream – it should be – and you need to make it easy for a broadcaster to show your game.
What are the common ways for mobile games to be streamed?
- Emulators: An Android emulator is an easy, no-extra-hardware-required way for broadcasters to include a mobile game into their stream. There are now quite a few emulators available for PCs, but the nature of emulators is that they don’t always act exactly like a phone or a tablet. In my experience, there are a surprising number of mobile games that aren’t emulator-compatible, often because of differences with how the emulators handle file storage. To be as Twitch-friendly as possible, you should test your game on the most common emulators just as you do the most common mobile devices.
- Screen capture software: In this method, users use software on their mobile device to stream to their streaming machine. The advantage is that this doesn’t require any additional hardware, other than a mobile device, and the game is running natively. The downside is that the screen capture and streaming software require a good chunk of processor speed, which can impact the performance of the game.
- “Spectator mode:" Another way that streamers can get mobile gameplay into their stream is by using Spectator Mode on another device. This approach is more common for productions displaying other people’s displays (such as with eSports broadcasts), but can also be a method for individual streamers.
- Screen capturing hardware: Probably the best option for the Twitch streamer, this simply shows what is displayed on the mobile device. The game can run natively, there is no impact on the performance of the game, and there are no compatibility issues on the streamer’s machine.
Certain technical design decisions can also impact how appealing a mobile game is for a broadcaster:
- Orientation: Landscape mode matches the orientation of a Twitch broadcast, while portrait orientation requires an overlay to make different use of the screen.
- Legible graphics: Large, distinctive graphic design makes your gameplay easier to see on a small screen (especially important if you need portrait orientation).
- No audio locks: Mobile game fans often watch Twitch on their mobile device, and they often will listen to a stream in the background while playing the game. A Twitch-friendly mobile game should allow for this use case by not requiring audio or letting other audio play in the background.
The overall strategy should be to understand what streamers need to do to build a real stream – beyond the simple broadcast of gameplay – and see how the game can enable their success.
Of course, technical issues are not the only concern (or even a prime concern!) for a content creator. Content creators are in the business of telling a story and putting on a show, and it’s much easier to do that if they’re highlighting something that is fun to watch.
Tip: DO enable compelling content
For a game to be appealing to Twitch streamers, it must be a game that allows for compelling, or at least interesting, content for a stream. While it’s impossible to define exactly what defines “interesting content” on Twitch (and one of the great parts of Twitch is that there’s something for almost everyone), the mobile games that are popular on Twitch share some similar traits. Here are some of my tips:
- Play well with others. Twitch streams thrive on interactivity, and features that help streamers play with their viewers, like PvP or co-op modes, enable them to interact with their community.
- Skill matters: Games that let broadcasters show off their abilities are always popular on Twitch. From speed-running console games to showing off in hardcore “high skill cap” PC games, broadcasters love showing off how good they are. Is there a mode or a design in your game that lets streamers showcase their skill?
- Be global: The audience for game content is incredibly global, and the game should match that availability. Streamers won’t want to show a game if it’s not available in large sections of the world that are important to their audience.
- People love surprises: Don’t underestimate the appeal of opening a surprise gift! While people may debate what place random boxes, crates, or other “GACHA” mechanics should have in video games, the fact of the matter is that people love watching these random loot items being opened… ESPECIALLY if the audience didn’t have to pay for it!
Content creators are very busy, and as a game developer, you already know that creating something for other people is not easy. Making it easier to use your game and making sure that there are elements that “show well” only increases the chances that your game will become something that other people will want to show off.
In part three of this series, I will discuss ways that you can engage and promote your content creating community.