It’s a wondrous moment when you decide that you want to begin your streaming journey. Some people spend years watching others on Twitch before they take the epic leap to get themselves set up and hit that “go live” button.
This magical and warm moment can quickly become a little overwhelming when you realize how big of a project doing something like this is. Whether you do it for monetary gain and want to build a business, a personal brand to spread throughout various platforms that represent you as a content creator, or as a hobby outside of your full time job, you are going to find yourself running into hundreds of questions very quickly.
And like myself in the beginning, you might find that you don’t always have someone to turn to when you need advice. Those who have already started streaming can probably relate and have most likely overcome many obstacles in their first few months or even years of streaming. From technical issues, advice, choices, to emotional setbacks, and lack of motivation, it is a huge entangled web that can be sticky and hard to navigate.
This is why I wanted to write this article for you and all of the others entering this space. I want to make this journey as clear and transparent as possible for you. You might notice that I didn’t say “easy” because it’s not. If you want to take the leap into the most amazing and rewarding experience you can have generated by you and your hard work, then get a notepad, a pen, and continue reading. This article is titled “Before You Go Live” because there are a few things I recommend you do before you start streaming, as well as a few things that I think are important to outline and will benefit you knowing now, rather than later.
Understanding how Twitch works now is extremely important when it comes to a lot of the choices you have to make along the way. In my experience, a lot of new Streamers seem to be unaware of some of the most crucial information related to how Twitch works and the way the playlists in the categories are set out. Twitch has extremely low discoverability for smaller streamers and this is why everyone’s.
Advice is always: bring viewers in from other platforms because you won’t grow on Twitch. This is absolutely true unless you create something that is new and fresh and position yourself within Twitch to get some decent exposure. But let me tell you now, it’s extremely hard to do and most streamers will give up well before that happens. “Decide what you want to get out of streaming.
Up until recently, the categories pages on Twitch would list the biggest streamers at the top of the page. This meant that new or smaller streamers would be all the way down the bottom of the playlists and thus would struggle for discoverability. The reason I mention this is because some people still have their profile set to “Viewers (High to Low)” rather than “Recommended for You” when searching for streams, so it’s good to be aware of this.
You can change your search option to “recommended for you” which helps smaller streamers with discoverability but as mentioned, not in all cases are people searching this way and Twitch is still extremely saturated. This first part explains basically how the “Viewers (High to Low)” works and how you can select an appropriate game around this.
The example for this is the Top 20 categories listed on the Twitch playlists. I want you to go to one of those games that are listed in the Top 20 and pick a category that you would play or are interested in streaming. Now, I want you to start scrolling down the page while watching the viewer counts of those streams. Keep going until you get to around 2 to 5 viewers in the playlist or around where your average views is and have a look at the thumbnails amongst that group. Perhaps there are 40 channels around that amount of average viewers, or maybe there are 5. Either way, this is where you are going to be sitting and this is where you will not get discovered and you will not grow on Twitch. Sorry for the harsh truth to all those grinding within the Top 20 categories.
Majority of people will select the top 10 streamers in their interested category and it will be based on Thumbnail, Title, or Profile Name. Unless you can somehow bring in a mass following from other platforms, the Top 20 is not for you as people are just not going to scroll down through hundreds of streamers to randomly click on you.
This is what is called a ‘saturated playlist’ and you want to try and avoid these. The other thing to note here is how people want to gather where everyone else is, this is called trust and I will talk about that more in a later article.
Even though people can still search via “Recommended for You”, category saturation still plays a huge part in whether or not you get noticed on Twitch and playing this game of categories to the best of your ability will benefit you.The next thing to be aware of is streaming what are called “dead games.”
There are hundreds of games available to stream but if you download an average game that didn’t really review well and was released 5 years ago — you just aren’t going to see much growth from that. People are not actively searching for games that aren’t really current anymore unless they are super passionate about them, play them themselves or are committed to a streamer. You need to have the viewer base inside that category to be able to grow from it and so many games on that list just won’t do that for you. You need to play it smart if you really want to get a slight edge up on everyone else streaming.
The category list changes often and you need to fall in the middle, the sweet spot, and you need to play it smart. Always check your category before you start streaming. If there is no one there, it’s most likely a dead game. I like to pay attention to the total followers within a game category and will try to avoid anything under 250,000 followers unless I am doing a themed stream day. Horror is a great example of this and the Outlast series is notable. Even though it has under 200,000 followers, streamers are constantly returning to this game. You will sometimes see 2 people playing it, or a massive streamer heading in for some spooky poopy times. I would consider a game like this, on the edge of a dead game as people still play it. Games like, Banished, Foundation are examples of great
games that just don’t have the traction to build anything massive from.
There is also a tactic that some streamers use called “Piggy Backing”. I am pretty sure I made that term up and I am going to claim that for now as I used to back in 2014. When I say some streamers use it, I actually have no idea, I have just seen streamers sitting behind big streamers in the category lists before so I know people do it. Piggy Backs are fun right?
Piggy Backing is when a really big streamer plays an obscure game that is no longer popular and pushes it up the category lists. You will notice that the top streamer might have 12k viewers on that particular game and a few smaller streamers are sitting just behind that at under 20 viewers. The theory and hope here is that when the big streamer ends their stream, they will raid you and flood your stream with thousands of viewers or the viewers might have a look within the category and find you sitting there.
The other idea is that when the big streamer stops streaming for the day that some of those viewers will still want to watch that particular game, they will come into the playlist, and find another streamer to hang out with. Hopefully, that’s little ol’ you and with the advice of this article, you will be able to keep them there in your community.
The next piece of advice, and this contradicts the last few paragraphs completely but it also overrides both of those points exponentially, play games you enjoy. I cannot stress this enough. Do not play a game that you really aren’t interested in just because you think you are going to grow from it. Your audience can tell when you are not enjoying yourself and they can especially tell when you are faking it; trust me on that. It’s like when you watch a great Netflix series or movie and one of the actors just isn’t quite right. They stand out a little for all the wrong reasons, just like what faking it on Twitch is like: it stands out.
Play something you enjoy but play it smart. Now, I want you to think of a few games outside of the Top 20 that you really like and would love to stream. Go into the playlists and see how many people are streaming it currently. My rule of thumb is that if on the first page of that particular game, I can see the people streaming around my average viewer count, that it’s a good game to play and gain a small amount of growth from. I can find games that have a streamer at the top on around 250 viewers, next is about 100 and then 50, 48, 35, 28, 25, all the way down to 8, 5, 3, and it’s all within the first page, then you know when you go live, you will be sitting on that first page somewhere amongst those streamers. Now all you need to do is bring people in with your title and thumbnail presentation and keep them there with all the other skills you will learn.
So, with that being said, there are a few hidden gems throughout the Twitch playlists that are fantastic games to get into and build a good solid community. Here are a few ideas: A game like Warframe is a great example as the playlists are generally not too long and the first couple of pages have a big drop in average viewers. It’s a large game with a loyal fanbase who are, in most cases, willing to teach and help out newer players. If you are a veteran, even better. You will notice that on the first page of Warframe, you can almost see where a new and smaller streamer might sit.
You can also see that Warframe has 2.7Million followers, so there is a huge community backing it. Also, if you haven’t already, check out the documentary about Warframe on Youtube. It’s an amazing story.
The Sims 4 is another great example. I have spent a lot of time with The Sims 4 because I absolutely love building and designing houses. It has a passionate community and I have seen a lot of streamers do very well in this space. With 4.2Million followers and a very friendly and loyal fan base, you can expect to sit within the first couple of pages while streaming even as a new streamer.
Find the best game, don’t waste time on what everyone is playing
If you are good at the game, even better. If you are a streamer who streams nothing but First Person Shooters, then now is the time for you to let go of the new Call of Duty that you are trying to grow from. My suggestion here is to try and find an FPS that is not so saturated and still popular. Perhaps a game like Borderlands 3 that is still popular and loved by so many people but doesn’t have thousands of other streamers playing it. Rainbow Six Siege is a great choice too but you will need to get that skill level up to impress the crew.
There is a small exception to these rules and that is games like Rocket League. While it’s playlist isn’t overly long, it’s a skill-based game and can be hard to pull viewers in with just average skill gameplay.
You will notice the top 5 are normally players with high ranks and this is the case with a lot of smaller games that seem like hidden gems. It might look good but you will be streaming next to people who have been playing since release and know the game inside out.
Elder Scrolls Online is a good example of this as a high percentage of the viewers want to see experienced gameplay. It’s not impossible to grow from a game like this but you would have to be committed to sinking some serious hours into it and really learning the game. Being able to teach your viewers about a game is also a great skill to have. Don’t get me wrong, it is possible, but it will be slow.
Do your research on what to play, as games are a personal choice and I can’t help you with picking the perfect one for you. Consider these important points and find yourself an enjoyable growth game that you can commit to. Being a one game streamer is a hard life, but it’s an easier growth life. I personally have a few go-to games that I absolutely love and feel I am in the best real estate to gain new followers. Every now and again, I will mix it up a little and play some other genres to keep my channel fresh and relevant. But for me, playing new release games is not on my to do list right now.
When games like a new Call of Duty or when Cyberpunk2077 is released, these playlists are flooded with thousands of streamers. The long-term goal is to be able to be a relevant streamer further up these playlists, but until then, I will continue to play the games that I love and enjoy that are in a great space to build a community and grow from.