game streaming

Microsoft’s game streaming service Mixer adds more ways for streamers to make money

Posted by | game streaming, games, Gaming, Microsoft, mixer, streaming | No Comments

Microsoft today is rolling out a new version of its game streaming service, Mixer, which it’s calling “Season 2” to reflect the fact that the changes are ongoing, not a one-day release. The company says it’s specifically investing in new areas around expression, monetization and creator communities.

The first of these, called Skills, are focused on giving users more ways to participate in chats with stickers and GIFs, and other screen effects that remind you a bit of those you’d find on iMessage. For example, there are celebratory fireworks and confetti to be tossed around, as well as a beach ball that the community members can keep bouncing.

Streamers will like these, too, as it helps them make money.

“Every time you use a Skill on a partner’s channel, it supports that partner financially,” Microsoft says.

It also says the selection of Skills will be updated regularly, going forward.

Another addition is a way to support favorite streamers via “Sparks,” which are earned by watching streams. These can then be spent on Skills and help partnered streamers reach milestones that translate to cash payouts.

Some high-value Skills will be purchased using a new virtual currency, Mixer Embers. These are the next step up from Sparks, and gives fans’ favorite streamers direct financial rewards.

In 2019, Microsoft says it will also introduce the Mixer progression system, to better reflect a community member’s status, beyond just how much they’ve contributed financially. The system will reward a viewer’s engagement with a streamer’s community and Mixer as a whole, and allows members to “level up” by participating in chat, using Skills and earning Applause from others.

Mixer is also rolling out improved video capabilities with the enabling of automatic bitrate switching, more options for use of FTL streaming and the addition of a feature for reporting any video-specific issues.

Skills and Sparks Patronage on Mixer are live now, with Mixer Embers and Progression arriving in the weeks and months ahead.

The changes fall on the heels of Twitch’s annual conference, TwitchCon, where it announced its own set of new features, including new ways for streamers to grow, connect with their community and monetize. Standouts included the launch of group streaming and a karaoke game, as well as changes to badges, new moderation tools and the expansion of sponsored opportunities.

Powered by WPeMatico

Twitch announces group streaming and a karaoke game for its 1M concurrent viewers

Posted by | Apps, Emmett Shear, game streaming, Gaming, Media, Social, TC, Twitch, Video | No Comments

The teens were out in force today in San Jose for the annual TwitchCon game-streaming conference. There, Twitch announced that at any given time, 1 million people are watching it (up from 746,000 last year), and it seemed like many game lovers were at TwitchCon in person to meet some of the nearly half-million web celebs that broadcast each day on the service. Considering Twitch said just 2 million were broadcasting per month in December, the service’s growth is still explosive under Amazon’s ownership.

Amongst the major reveals at TwitchCon were a new Squad Streaming feature that lets up to four people broadcast at once in split-screen that will test with select streamers later this year.

There’s also a new Twitch Sings game built-in partnership with Rock Band-creator Harmonix. Broadcasters can play to perform karaoke (though only with fake versions of songs as Twitch lacks major label music licenses). Viewers can use the chat to request the next song and control the lights on the virtual karaoke stage; broadcasters can sign up here for the Twitch Sings closed beta that starts later in 2018.

Twitch Squad Streaming

And Twitch broadcasters can now use Snapchat’s augmented reality lenses thanks to the new Snap Camera desktop app and accompanying Twitch extension launching today. Streamers can use hotkeys to trigger different Snapchat Lenses, let viewers try those masks by scanning an onscreen Snapchat QR code and reward subscribers with a bonus thank you effect. Read our full story on Snap Camera here.

There were plenty of other minor announcements during the conference’s keynote:

  • More than 235,00 streamers now have Affiliate status and are earning money on their channels, while 6,800 have joined its Partnership program so they can earn even more through channel subscriptions and ads.
  • Twitch is revamping Gear on Amazon, where streamers can show off products and earn affiliate fees, renaming it Amazon Blacksmith.
  • Twitch’s Highlight editor can now stitch together multiple clips from across a broadcasting session.
  • New homepage sections will feature up-and-coming streamers, new Partners and Affiliates or streamers local to viewers.
  • VIP Badges will let creators recognize their favorite subscribers and moderators.
  • Moderators can now see how long someone has been on Twitch, view chat messages that person has sent in the channel and see how many time-outs or bans that account has received in that channel to better understand who to boot.
  • 18 billion messages have been sent in Twitch chat and its Whispers feature in 2018, and fans have given creators 85 million Cheers and Subscriptions.
  • 150 million Twitch Clips have been created in 2018 to bring the best game stream and other weird content to the rest of the web.
  • Twitch users have gifted $9 million worth of subscriptions to fellow users in just 9 weeks.
  • Twitch will open its Bounty Board of sponsorship opportunities to 30 more brands, and more Partners and Affiliates in the U.S. and Canada in November.
  • The Twitch Rivals in-person gaming tournaments will double to 128 events in 2019. Some will have million-dollar prizes, and it already gave out $5 million in winners’ jackpots last year.


As CEO Emmett Shear made the announcements, audience members hooted and hollered with delight. They out-yelled even Apple’s keynote attendees. Shear shouted out early users who’ve been with it since Twitch was a Y Combinator live-vlogging startup called Justin.tv. “When people have your back and support you for a long time, we think they should be recognized for it,” he said, revealing the new VIP badges and a counter that shows how many months a fan has been a channel’s paying subscriber.

“You spoke and we listened,” Shear said. That truly seemed to be the message of this conference. Facebook’s F8 conferences held in the same San Jose Convention Center often seem to produce updates that are designed to help the company as much as the users. But Twitch has realized it can’t just be useful. It must remain beloved if people are going keep spending 760 million hours per month watching others game, joke and express themselves. Shear concluded, “I think we’re just scratching the surface when it comes to everyone playing together.”

Twitch Sings

Powered by WPeMatico

Google gets into game streaming with Project Stream and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey in Chrome

Posted by | assassin's creed, Cloud, game streaming, Gaming, Google, TC, ubisoft | No Comments

Earlier this year, we heard rumors that Google was working on a game-streaming service. It looks like those rumors were true. The company today unveiledProject Stream,” and while Google calls this a “technical test” to see how well game streaming to Chrome works, it’s clear that this is the foundational technology for a game-streaming service.

To sweeten the pot, Google is launching this test in partnership with Ubisoft and giving a limited number of players free access to Assassin’s Creed Odyssey for the duration of the test. You can sign up for the test now; starting on October 5, Google will invite a limited number of participants to play the game for free in Chrome.

As Google notes, the team wanted to work with a AAA title because that’s obviously far more of a challenge than working with a less graphics-intense game. And for any game-streaming service to be playable, the latency has to be minimal and the graphics can’t be worse than on a local machine. “When streaming TV or movies, consumers are comfortable with a few seconds of buffering at the start, but streaming high-quality games requires latency measured in milliseconds, with no graphics degradation,” the company notes in today’s announcement.

If you want to participate, though, you’ll have to be fast. Google is only taking a limited number of testers. Your internet connection has to be able to handle 25 megabits per second and you must live in the U.S. and be older than 17 to participate. You’ll also need both a Ubisoft and Google account. The service will support wired PlayStation and Xbox One and 360 controllers, though you can obviously also play with your mouse and keyboard.

While it remains to be seen if Google plans to expand this test and turn it into a full-blown paid service, it’s clear that it’s working on the technology to make this happen. And chances are Google wouldn’t pour resources into this if it didn’t have plans to commercialize its technology.

Powered by WPeMatico

Twitch streamers can now let viewers react with GIFs

Posted by | game streaming, Gaming, GIFs, giphy, streaming service, Twitch | No Comments

Giphy is coming to Twitch . For the first time, Giphy is bringing its library of animated GIFs to the Amazon-owned game streaming service. The company today is launching a Giphy extension for Twitch streamers that will allow viewers to react in real-time using GIFs during a broadcast. The idea is that GIFs could make streams more engaging and entertaining, which would, in turn, attract retain viewers for longer periods of time.

Twitch extensions were first introduced last year, but only recently did Twitch add support for running multiple extensions at once. That could encourage more developers to try out the Giphy extension, without having to give up their other favorite overlays.

To use the new extension, the streamer will first configure which part of the screen area will be used to display the GIFs viewers post. Once the extension is activated, viewers will be able to access it during a broadcast via a Giphy icon and the search terms they enter into the message bar.

Twitch is not the first game streaming site to experiment with GIF reactions. The newer site Caffeine had this as a feature, too, but pulled it before launch because they found it could be used for harassment. Twitch and Giphy are hoping to not make the sane mistake by curating the catalog of GIFs that can be shared.

According to Twitch, Giphy’s content is moderated to remove those GIFs that are “overtly offense” to any race, gender, ethnicity or community. It’s also limiting GIFs to those with a PG rating and below, which will prohibit users from posting GIFs with violence, sexual references, and other lewd terms, it says.

“Extensions are a great framework designed to make channels on Twitch more interactive so creators can better engage and retain their fans,” said Amir Shevat, Twitch VP of Developer Experience, in a statement. “With Giphy tapping into their extensive library of animated GIFs for their new Extension, it adds a fun and compelling new element to the social video experience that is sure to resonate with the current meme generation.”

Extensions are one of Twitch’s differentiating features in the game streaming market. Thanks to Twitch’s scale, there are now thousands of these add-ons and overlays in development, and over 250 which have gone live since the feature’s launch. Dozens of these, including Giphy’s, also work alongside others, allowing streamers to better customize their broadcasts and channels.

Powered by WPeMatico

Microsoft’s Twitch rival Mixer gets a revamp, including new developer tools for interactive gameplay

Posted by | game streaming, Gaming, Microsoft, mixer | No Comments

Microsoft is celebrating the one-year anniversary of its game streaming service and Twitch competitor, Mixer, with a host of new features, including a refresh of the user experience and the launch of an expanded developer toolkit called MixPlay. The new streamer tools will roll out along with the revamped version of Mixer .com across desktop and mobile web, and will initially be available to Mixer Pro subscribers.

The company claims the service saw more than 10 million monthly active users in December 2017 – a figure, we should point out, may be higher because of holiday sales and the accompanying bump in game downloads and playtime seen across platforms.

However, Microsoft also says that the Mixer viewing audience has grown over four times since its launch, and the number of watched streams has grown more than five times. These are still not hard numbers, but third-party reports have put Mixer well behind Twitch’s sizable and still-growing lead in terms of both concurrent streamers and viewers. (Those reports aren’t 100% accurate either, though, because they can’t track Xbox viewership.)

Microsoft says the updated Mixer.com rolls out beginning today, with a focus on making it easier for viewers to find the games and streamers they want to watch, as well as those broadcasting in creative communities.

While Pro subscribers will gain access first, they’ll have to opt-in by visiting their Account Settings and turning the new look on manually. (To do so, select the “Site Version” dialog, then the “Feature/UI Refresh” option, Microsoft says.)

The full refresh will arrive to all Mixer users later this summer.

As part of the new experience, the company is also rolling out more tools for developers with the launch of MixPlay.

As Microsoft explains, instead of just adding buttons below a stream, MixPlay lets developers build experiences on top of streams, in panels on the sides of the video, as widgets around the video, or as free-floating overlays – all of which can be designed to mimic the look-and-feel of the streamed content. Basically, this means the entire window is now a canvas, not just a portion of the stream itself.

One example of what MixPlay can enable can be seen in April’s launch of Mixer’s “Share Controller” feature, which created a virtual Xbox controller that could be shared by anyone broadcasting from their Xbox One.

This allowed gamers and viewers to play along in real-time from the web.

 

In addition, MixPlay will enable other games that are only playable on Mixer where controls blend into the stream –  like Mini Golf, which launched this month and now has 300,000 views, or Truck Stars, for example.

Three new MixPlay-enabled games are launching today, as well, including Earthfall, which lets viewers interact with streamers or even change the game; Next Up Hero, where viewers can help a streamer by taking control or freeze the streamer at the worst possible moment, depending on their mood; and Late Shift, a choose-your-own-adventure crime thriller you control.

These sorts of MixPlay experiences shift the idea of Mixer being just another game streaming service to one where viewers can actively participate by playing themselves, or at least guiding the action. That could also serve as a differentiator for Mixer as it tries to carve out a niche for itself in the battle with Twitch and YouTube Gaming.

 

But MixPlay isn’t just for interactive experiences, Microsoft notes. It can also help developers build experiences that simply enhance streams with additional content, too, like a stats dashboard.

Another update involves the Mixer Create app, which offers mobile support to streamers. Now, streamers can kick of a co-stream by clicking the co-stream button on their Mixer Create profile, then send out invites, among other things.

This is live on Android in beta today, and will launch soon on iOS beta, with a full rollout in early June.

In terms of perks, Microsoft is running an “anniversary” promotion offering $5 of Microsoft Store credit along with any Direct Purchase of $9.99 or more. A second promotion is giving away a free, 1-month channel subscription and up to 90 days of Mixer Pro to anyone who reaches Level 10 on their account between May 24th, 2018 at 12:00AM UST and May 28th, 2018 at 11:59PM PDT.

The company additionally announced a new partnership with ESL on esports, which will bring over 15,000 hours of programming from top competitive games to Mixer, including Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends, and Dota 2. These tournaments will take advantage of Mixer’s FTL technology for “sub-second latency,” the company says.

Other announcements around games and esports are mentioned in the Mixer blog post, too.

Powered by WPeMatico

Microsoft partners with Lightstream Studio to bring customization tools to Mixer streamers

Posted by | game streaming, Gaming, Microsoft, mixer, streaming | No Comments

Microsoft’s Twitch competitor, Mixer, is giving streamers a new way to customize their channels. The company has entered into a partnership with Lightstream Studio to allow Mixer streamers to add images, overlays, transitions, and text to their streams, or to switch between scenes. The goal is to make it easier for creators to give their streams a more professional look-and-feel, without requiring they have a lot of technical expertise.

Instead, the partnership will allow streamers to route their feed into the web-based Lightstream Studio, which can be accessed via a supported browser on a PC, Mac or tablet. On smartphones, the URL mixer.golightstream.com will allow streamers to use their phone as a remote control for changing their scenes.

For instance, gamers can use the Studio to create status screens like “Starting Soon,” or “Be Right Back,” then quickly rotate through them, as needed.

Streamers can direct their streams to Lightstream Studio from their mobile devices, PC, or their Xbox native broadcast.

Y’all wanted overlays on your native Xbox streams? Boom! Here it is!

Excited to roll this out today and to note you can point your stream from mobile, PC (PS4/Switch with cap card), or your Xbox native broadcast to Lightstream services for seamless overlays and scenes! https://t.co/Bq0a3yWczg

— Josh Stein (@steinekin) April 11, 2018

The support for native Xbox streams is what’s got streamers most excited, however.

Microsoft says the integration will not impact the other third-party services Mixer streamers today use for alerts, like StreamLabs, StreamJar or Tipeeestream, as they can link those accounts within their Lightstream settings.

Microsoft has been rolling out a number of new features for Mixer in recent months, in an effort to bring its service more on par with Amazon-owned Twitch, the leader in game streaming in terms of both concurrent streamers and viewers, as well as rival YouTube Gaming.

This year, for example, Mixer introduced game sales as another means of helping streamers generate revenue from their channels, and it announced support for direct tipping. Many of these features are about Mixer playing catch-up, though, rather than coming out with something new.

Adding overlaid content to a stream to make it look more polished and professional is something that Twitch today supports through its extensions platform. It currently has over 150 different extensions, including things like stream schedules, countdowns, reminders, polls, and more. And some portion of those extensions became available on mobile just last month.

Lightstream Studio is not quite the same, as it a partnership with a third-party rather than a built-in offering, but it will give streamers some similar options thanks to its support of third-party tools for adding stream alerts. 

Lightstream Studio is first being offered in beta to Partners and Pro users to test, before rolling out more broadly.

Powered by WPeMatico

Chinese game streaming platform Chushou raises Series D, adds Google as investor

Posted by | China, Chushou, Fundings & Exits, game streaming, Gaming, Google, Livestreaming, streaming, TC | No Comments

 Google has added Chinese mobile game livestreaming platform Chushou to its list of investments in Asia. The Beijing-based startup announced today that it has closed a Series D round, which Google joined as a new investor, that brings its total funding so far to over $120 million. Chushou’s previous investors Qiming Venture, Shunwei Capital and Alpha X Capital, also returned for this round. Read More

Powered by WPeMatico

Playkey raises $2.8M to fund its US expansion

Posted by | game streaming, Gaming, iidf, Internet Initiatives Development Fund, playkey, Startups, streaming, TC | No Comments

 Playkey, a game streaming service we saw earlier this year at Disrupt NY, has just closed an additional $2.8 million round of funding from Russia’s Internet Initiatives Development Fund (IIDF). Created at the suggestion of Vladimir Putin in 2013, the IIDF has invested in 293 companies to-date with the objective to strengthen infrastructure for Russian businesses. However, the investment… Read More

Powered by WPeMatico