Twitch recently introduced Squad Stream, a way for multiple streamers to stream “together” in the same window. Like lots of Twitch’s features, it’s an official variant on software streamers have been using for years. By incorporating this into its streaming tools, Twitch legitimizes the community spirit that already existed on the site — though only for its most important members at the moment.
Twitch launched the feature earlier this week. It supports up to four streamers in a group, all displayed in a single window. The site’s reps tout it as being perfect for “showing off every awesome moment in a battle royale match, saving a virtual seat at the table for tabletop streams, catching every second of speedrunning head-to-heads, and so much more.” A streamer initiates a Squad Stream from their dashboard.
It’s a nifty tool, but it’s not new: streamers have been using some version of this for years. MultiTwitch is the one I’ve seen the most, and on my last visit to TwitchCon I saw at least three or for different kinds of this software at display booths.
But that’s the history of Twitch: the site has a litany of features originally made popular by the community through outside software. Raids, for example — in which a streamer directs their audience to flood another streamer’s chat en masse in a show of support — started as a thing users did for each other unofficially, and now it’s supported by an official in-chat command. Clips, in which users can instantly save short videos when a streamer does something funny or awesome, were originally supported by extensions such as Plays.tv. Even the host button began with BetterTwitchTV, which also had the site’s first Dark Mode — before that point, hosting had been a difficult-to-use chat command.
So yeah, all Twitch ever needs to do to improve is just keep an eye on what the community is making, and then basically doing the same thing a few years later.
There’s one problem with Squad Stream at the moment — it’s currently only available for partnered streamers. One of the benefits of multistreaming is the sense of discovery, the ability of streamers to introduce their audience to a new, interesting friend who might not be getting as much attention, or an old friend who’s looking to make it big. Partnered streamers are generally big enough that they don’t need the exposure. Luckily, this won’t be a problem for long — a Twitch rep told us they’ll be rolling out the feature to every streamer soon.
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