Twitch stars share advice about how newbie video game streamers can hit the big time.
It’s 6 p.m. on a Thursday and the background of Fairlight Excalibur’s Twitch channel assures his 290,000 followers that “the adventure will begin soon.” When the man of the hour arrives, he picks up the conversation as if talking to a good friend.
“It’s so hot that I’m actually about to be reduced to a puddle of sweat on my floor—in case you guys don’t hear from me again, send someone over with a shop vac,” he recently wrote.
In the chatbox, fans commiserate with a customized “Fairlove” heart-shaped emoji. Others explore what ingredients would be found in a fictitious Fairlight-stew.
This kind of cult-like love is par for the course for top Twitch broadcasters, but not all will hit the big time. Of the 2.1 million streamers on Twitch in 2016, only a few will have the discipline, personality and equipment to become full-time professionals.
Here are four tips from successful streamers:
1. The nerves are normal, so have fun
Recently, as Twitch star AnneMunition and her team took the Watchpoint Gibraltar map on Overwatch, a sudden bug left the battlefield uncharacteristically empty. Instead of the typical six-person battle, it became a one-on-one duel between AnneMunition and an enemy.
Feeling all eyes on her, AnneMunition squeaked “Oh God!” before declaring, “I’m going to win.”
The tension mounted as she darted for cover, turned around with a rocket launcher and gave her opponent a taunting salute before promptly taking him out.
To the untrained eye, AnneMunition remained calm and collected. But, she admitted, the pressure to play well while in front of anonymous strangers on the internet takes some getting used to.
Both she and 2MGoverCsquared agree that focusing their energy on just enjoying the game not only calmed nerves, but kept things authentic.
“I myself prefer watching streamers that are true to themselves and love the games they play rather than someone putting on an act to be entertaining,” 2MGoverCsquared explained.
Having a casual rapport with fans, making them feel like friends not strangers, builds trust and can turn spectators into committed fans.
2. Stream quality makes a difference
A few months back, cooking and gaming livestreamer App1eCrisp tried broadcasting Overwatch on her trusty old laptop.
In the middle of a heated battle, she said her computer “started making weird noises and revving up like a car engine. I think it was even smoking a little.”
A message appeared with a warning about her overheated CPU. Her followers quickly abandoned the stream.
“It was sort of a moment of realization for me as I sat there staring at that error message,” she said. “I knew it was time to move on.”
A top-tier rig — whether a notebook or desktop computer — is essential for streamers. Simultaneously running a game and recording high-quality video, all while encoding a live broadcast, is a tall order for any processor.
It’s not just about playing the game anymore, said Intel’s Mark Chang.
“It’s also about sharing and engaging with the community and friends,” he said. “That completes the gaming experience.”
He said it requires lots of computer horsepower to drive the game and transcode video at the same time, and newer multicore processors were designed to handle this mega-tasking smoothly.
At the August introduction of the 7th generation Intel Core processor line, Intel’s Navin Shenoy said lifelike experiences online require computers with performance power to view, create and play simultaneously in what he calls the “immersive internet.”
“You can play games like Overwatch anytime and anywhere on a thin, light laptop,” said Shenoy.
When someone comes to her channel for the first time, AnneMunition knows she has a very limited window to impress them.
“If your video is low quality because your CPU isn’t working as strong as it could be, you end up losing a customer, essentially.”
3. Build your own machine
And according to AnneMunition and Fairlight Excalibur, the benefits of building your own rig far outweigh the learning curve.
“I encourage beginners to build their own PCs because you get a lot of experience and knowledge out of the process,” said AnneMunition, who had never considered building her own PC before starting a channel.
Today, she calls her streaming-optimized rig Drogon, named after a dragon from Game of Thrones.
With the knowledge gained and budget saved, AnneMunition said it was easy to keep the important components upgraded and her stream running flawlessly.
Building a custom rig not only cuts down on labor costs, but also allows streamers to focus on beefing up the parts that matter.
“A streaming rig usually just needs a strong processor and not a whole lot else, so you can build one fairly cheap,” explained Fairlight Excalibur.
4. Use personality to build audience
The interaction between stars and fans on live chat sets streaming apart from any other form of entertainment. According to Twitch’s director of partnerships John Howell, it also drives the most continued growth and audience engagement.
When Fairlight Excalibur kicked off his Thursday night stream, he made sure to thank returning viewers and even asked a particularly loyal fan about a recent move to a new apartment. He encourages beginners to engage with followers in an authentic way.
“Find something that suits you and your personality, stick with it and don’t get discouraged,” he said. “Growth can be a long process.”
It can take three or more years to build enough of a following to make a living off a stream, according to Forbes. The reward is adoration from an extremely loyal group of like-minded gamers.
Excalibur’s community dubbed itself the “FairKnights,” while 2MGoverCsquared’s tight-knit squad of 430,000 is “The Peep Crew Family.”
“We always have each other’s back and look out for one another,” 2MGoverCsquared wrote on her Twitch page.
With the #peepcrewforlife hashtag, her fans created their own personal corner on the internet where they could share inside jokes, memes and support one another.
“I feel extremely lucky to be surrounded by an amazing crew and to see it grow every stream,” she said.
On Twitch, top broadcasters understand they’re not just entertaining a crowd, they’re also bringing people together through the games they love.