Over this coming month of October, I will be transitioning all of my streaming from Twitch to YouTube. This has been a hard decision for me to make, but after numerous tests and weighing all of the pros and cons, I’ve decided it no longer makes sense for me to continue streaming on Twitch. I have dedicated over a year of my life to streaming on Twitch, and most of it was very memorable and enjoyable to be sure. Slowly over time however, the cracks in Twitch’s armor have become massive holes, and the fun has slowed because of it.
There’s a major Catch-22 that comes with streaming on Twitch, and that catch is quality. If you don’t draw in a big enough crowd, you will not get quality options from Twitch, and if you don’t get quality options from Twitch, you’ll have trouble pulling in a big enough crowd. Many people who attend my streams have no doubt seen this:
The buffering that occurs on Twitch is not something streamers have any real power over. I’ve had loyal viewers come in and tell me immediately that they are getting buffering, while others are not. Hell, even I’ve gotten buffering watching others while some people have not. It is the BIGGEST issue that faces Twitch, and the primary reason for my switching. I am a quality nerd, and I strive to always deliver the highest quality content possible, Twitch does not sympathize with my goal.
When I began on Twitch, I streamed at 3000 Kbps, 720p60FPS, and for a while, it was pretty good. Granted it was still pretty artifacty, but it was visible, and that was enough. Overtime however, I was told that this high quality streaming was the cause of my issues, as the server speed, and/or viewers machines couldn’t keep up with it.
I went on streaming, decreasing my settings all the while and hoping that Twitch would work to make quality more of an option for anyone. Today, I stream at 2200 Kbps and 720p30FPS, and I still get people having trouble watching me, this is absolutely unacceptable. Going back and watching my own streams and the way they look, my first thought is “I wouldn’t watch this” and that is NOT the first impression I want to give to new viewers. It’s not fair to them, and it’s not fair to me.
I recently decided to use http://restream.io to send my stream to both Twitch.tv and Youtube Gaming, and the results were magnificent. Any time I had people coming in saying they had buffering issues, I directed them to YouTube, and 100% of them told me there was no buffering on YouTube for the SAME STREAM. This is the difference I’ve been looking for, and this alone is enough of a reason to get me to switch, but it’s not the only reason.
Since Day 1, Twitch has always been about numbers, and it feels like it’s only gotten worse with time. If you want the power to choose when your ads go off, you need to be a partner. If you want any form of revenue off of the ads they inject into your stream, you have to be a partner. If you want a sub button, you have to be a partner. If you want quality options, you have to be a partner. If you want to get featured on the front page, you need to have the viewer numbers and/or be a partner.
There is no real way to search through channels like there is in YouTube, if you want to be discovered, you have to be discovered through the games directory. Surprise surprise, the directory is sorted by number of viewers you have. The first impression of your channel people will have is not a description of you as a streamer, but simply a description of you as a breadwinner. Do you have viewers? No? Then why should I watch you? It can be a real issue, and a real detriment to your confidence as a streamer over time.
Make no mistake, everyone who streams wants to be seen, that’s just common sense. This means we’ll do whatever it takes to be seen, and if the only way to do that is to increase our numbers then we will do everything we can to make that happen. This is why you’ll see giveaways everywhere (which may or may not be scams) and cleavage shots, it drives up numbers. More viewers = more visibility = more followers = higher chance of partnership. I certainly won’t pretend I’ve never tried this before, I can guarantee you it works, but it will leave a bad taste in most people’s mouths. That’s just the way the game is played though.
While the numbers game is still a factor in getting featured for YouTube Gaming, it’s not the only way to get seen. On the front page of YTG, you’ll actually have a “Recommended For You” screen that can help you find new streamers who are tailored to what YOU enjoy. This is a HUGE improvement over just showing off popular streamers, and a major boon for the little guys.
YTG has a handful of really sweet features compared to Twitch. Most notably the ability to rewind and pause streams, and have everything I stream can be put right in my channel instantly as a video. Not to mention I create game reviews specifically for YouTube, in addition to posting HD versions of Indie Insights recordings, and it’s pretty darn cool to my reviews as a way for you to discover me as a streamer. Anyone who is subscribed to me through my reviews can be notified of when I go live for my streams, this is a HUGE boost for visibility, and helps keep my viewers together instead of spread apart.
I did say this was a tough decision, and I meant it. Despite all the good listed above, there will be some drawbacks, the biggest of which is you, the audience. I’ve sunk a year of my life into Twitch and built a small, but lovely community around it. It’s really hard to pack up and say goodbye to all of that, and I’m hoping you will all continue to join me on YouTube. I know that there are some of you who will be unable to do so, such as my loyal German viewers. This is a tough hit, and I am looking for solutions to keep you all included, such as streaming to hitbox.tv as well, but I plan to use YouTube as my primary source of chat.
Speaking of chat, YouTube Gaming’s chat system is currently very primitive. There are no timestamps attached to them, and chat never clears, even in between streams. Since YTG chat is not done through IRC, I am not sure if a solution for bots will be put into place soon or not, meaning I will need to abandon my lovely Ankhbot for the time being, and search for other solutions. It will indeed be a bumpy road for a while, but I’ve already seen YTG making improvements I’ve been hoping for over time, so I’m putting faith in them to continue improving and create something better, this is still a Beta after all.
I will still pop in on some of my fellow Twitch friends, but sadly, I will no longer be able to host them, for obvious reasons. I will attempt instead to do raids, but the hosting system was a pretty sweet them to help out the little guys. Hopefully in the future, YouTube will implement some sort of hosting system in YTG so I can help out the streamers there.
I consider myself to be a fiercely loyal person. If you show me respect, I will return it 10 times over, perhaps this is why I had such a hard time with this decision. My audience has shown me an immense amount of respect and support through this past year, and it’s hard to let them all down like this by leaving the platform they discovered me. Make no mistake, if it weren’t for you, my viewers, this decision would have been a no-brainer, but I feel that the only way I can continue to evolve my streaming is to take a step backwards so I may jump forwards. I sincerely hope you all will join me in this change, but I understand if are unwilling or in fact unable to do so, to the ladder I must simply apologize and hope you will understand. Thank you so much for helping me build what I have today, and I hope to see you all on the other side.