Live-streamed videogame playthroughs are the biggest trend in gaming entertainment right now… aside from playing games for oneself, that is. But any trend is going to have corporations racing to cash in on it and we're already in the middle of a platform battle nearly as gruesome as a console war itself. It's friend opposing friend, brother against brother and parent versus child. Luckily for you, we're here to break down the strengths and weaknesses of all major live-streaming platforms so that you can know which will best satisfy your personal needs as a viewer and even a creator should you be so inclined.
As the glitziest, most glamorous and most controversial platform, opinions of Twitch are fiercely divided. Its attempts to police its community have left many feeling that double standards are at play since it has heavily promoted suggestive streamers like Amouranth and Alinity while hitting others like Velvet_7 with indefinite bans for doing essentially the same thing. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg with Twitch’s banning problems. MrDeadMoth assaulted his wife live on stream and was given a mere 2-week suspension (though, to their credit, they at least banned him indefinitely later) while numerous World of Warcraft streamers were blocked indefinitely for mentioning the in-game creatures known as Nagas because their name sounds vaguely like the n-word. Other issues include an incredibly toxic community found in the platform’s chat, which has tormented certain streamers far past the point of mere trolling and going so far as stalking, doxing and swatting. If you’re a Twitch streamer and the site’s management doesn’t anger you already, its userbase likely will.
But Twitch's strengths can be equally as impressive as its weaknesses. The fact that it's the biggest in the game with the biggest view counts and the biggest sponsorships means not only do all streamers have their highest potential growth on Twitch, but viewers will—for the most part—find the biggest and most broadly appealing streamers there. Twitch is also the most feature-rich stream site by a landslide, with its own annual convention, in-depth VoD options and several ways to incorporate your online game accounts and Amazon Prime membership for premium rewards, you’ll have the most to gain from Twitch whether you’re a streamer or a viewer.
Formerly known as Beam, this relatively minor platform has been making major waves recently by effectively cucking Twitch out of their biggest star Ninja via an exclusivity contract. Buying the man who was formerly the biggest streamer in the world is one way to make a first impression, but what does Mixer have beyond that? Outperforming all the competition on a technical level seems to be its biggest non-shinobi-related focus and the barely noticeable delay between—for example—sending a streamer a message and seeing their reaction to it makes engaging with your favorite online personalities more satisfying than on other platforms. And since viewer engagement is what the streamers profit from, they stand to benefit from Mixer’s speed as well.
Other unique features include co-streaming with up to three other channels, running natively on Xbox One and Windows 10 and by all accounts the most helpful support staff of all the major platforms. These probably won’t change the minds of anyone who has already written Mixer off, but if you want some small quality of life improvements to go with your stream, you should consider this up and coming site.
So, what’s the biggest issue with Mixer? Well, aside from everything we mentioned above… the site is just Twitch. The layout, the user interface, and nearly everything about the site’s design are only distinct from Twitch in the smallest of ways. And when you remember that Mixer lacks nearly all of Twitch’s ample extra features, you’re left with something that feels like Twitch’s beta version.
YouTube is obviously the way you’ll end up watching your favorite YouTubers stream, so that alone gives it some inherent value, but it has a few different features to help it stand out. Twitch and Mixer have you find channels by browsing for the games you want to watch, whereas it's more common on YouTube for people to browse by creator, meaning that streamers are not under pressure to always play whatever the trendiest game at the time is to pull decent numbers. It’s also the only one to archive entire streams automatically and allow for custom thumbnails. Throw in the ability to rewind streams as they’re happening, and you have a streaming experience that’s almost the same as watching a YouTube video.
That includes the downsides of YouTube videos as well, unfortunately. If you want to avoid rampant demonetization, flagrant abuse of copyright protection going unchecked and a low rate of pay even when things are working properly, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere. Granted, these issues mostly affect streamers rather than audiences, but you probably don’t want to get personally invested in a streamer only for them to go the way of Mumkey Jones
This new website has made a name for itself by buying out Pewdiepie, having a somewhat suspicious cryptocurrency payment method and yet another design that looks like an incomplete version of Twitch. Its most-watched stream that we could find at the time of writing had a whole 117 people watching (in fairness, the Pewdster was not live at the time). You may get something out of it if you absolutely need to see Pewdiepie, but aside from that? Uh… at least the coloring is pretty.
Now you know just what to expect when venturing out into the wild world of live-streaming platforms. What makes each good, what makes each bad, and what makes DLive. Be sure to comment which streaming site you prefer, let us know whether you would rather stream or watch, and feel free to visit our Twitch stream at https://www.twitch.tv/honeysgaming. That’s probably not biased reporting, right?