A few months back, I streamed Tetris Effect for a few nights. At launch, the game seemingly had a lot of buzz. Critics raved about it. The game has incredible music and gorgeous visuals. And not to toot my own horn too much, but I’m pretty good at Tetris too, completing expert mode without losing once. All of those things made me think that this was going to be a great game for me to stream in terms of pulling in an audience.
While I had a blast playing the game, it bombed hard in terms of viewership. When I look back at the timing, it’s unfortunately part of the reason why I didn’t hit Twitch Affiliate late last year when I was right on the brink. Some of that blame could be my own performance and lack of promotion, but I think it’s much bigger than that. At the time, there were about five streamers broadcasting for an audience of under 20 viewers. As I type this, there is one streamer playing the game and zero people watching.
Tetris Effect might be an amazing game, but it’s a terrible streaming game if your goal as a streamer is to draw in an audience. Streaming adds an extra variable to the game selection process that can feel scummy, but it’s something you have to reconcile every time you play with the camera on.
As part of my streaming initiatives, I’ve been trying some Let’s Plays, where I stream the game in its entirety. We started small with Celeste, which took about two weeks. Right now we’re in the midst of a Paper Mario Let’s Play that feels like it’s been going on forever.
I did not enter the world of streaming in 2017 with visions of being the next Ninja. Already doing Let’s Play videos for my YouTube channel, I figured that if I was going to spend the time adding commentary to my videos in real time anyway, I might as well stream it. Could potentially hit two birds with one stone that way.
Having hit Twitch Affiliate somewhat recently, it’s gotten me thinking about the possibility of making this a full-time gig. Others have made it happen, but is it something I could achieve if I really wanted to?
Twitch has finally rolled out the ability for streamers to broadcast together as a squad! Up to four streamers can have their streams appear in one nifty interface. Viewers can then watch every feed simultaneously while also having the ability to flip between each streamer’s chat.
Are you a blogger looking to make the jump into video content? Maybe you’ve already made the leap and want to trade war stories? Or maybe you’re just interested in the process of creators transitioning from one medium to another? Hannie from The Hannie Corner and I have the post for you!
In “Navigating Written and Video Content“, we go in-depth on our experiences as bloggers going through this process. We share our motivations for getting in front of the camera, a number of the production challenges we face, as well as a few words of wisdom. It was a pleasure working with Hannie on this, and you should head over to her site for the full story!
The biggest mistake I made with regards to streaming was that I didn’t have enough of a plan. When I started doing this, my goals were laser-focused around production quality. From improving the audio, to ensuring that the stream ran at a steady frame rate, to having the capabilities of hosting a video podcast with friends, I knew what those challenges were and I took active steps to squash them. Sometimes it would take many months for to fix specific issues, but the objectives, roadmap to achieve such objectives, and the benefits of completing them were clear in my head.
What I didn’t really think about were aspects such as viewership, followers, reaching Twitch Affiliate, or virtually any metric of success. I figured that I would start thinking about those after I established a production quality baseline. After all, it shouldn’t take that long to produce a good-enough stream, right? Ha! Between having to save up to buy new parts and figuring out how to use everything just enough to get by, that process took over a year to sort out.
Meanwhile, my channel was still running. Streaming three-to-four times a week, I was growing increasingly frustrated with multi-hour streams going by and zero people tuning in. As the channel grew in terms of followers, I still wasn’t sure what to make of that. It all came to blow up in my face when a dip in viewership caused me to miss out on Twitch Affiliate. Missing out sent me into a multi-month depressive slide. Without having taken the time to formalize my expectations, I was essentially getting mad at myself over nothing.
Though I should have done this before, now seems like a great time to actually get real and formalize my goals for streaming going forward. This is just a start, as I should constantly be evaluating/adding/removing/revising these goals as I go. I may not formally write down every iteration, but having something written down somewhere to hold myself accountable is a great first step.
There was a time in early 2017 where I started a video show about board games. “Cleverly” titled Board Game Talk, it was an opportunity to try a new style of content creation while being able to share my thoughts on a medium I love. I’m glad to have given it a shot, and some of the videos would actually go on to perform pretty well by my standards.
By the end of season one though, I knew I wasn’t ready to go further. Though I do have a desire to someday come back to this concept, I’ll need to overcome these hurdles in order to make the content I want at a level I’m happy with.
The process of streaming is generally a solitary experience in front of the webcam. You get your game feed and one webcam feed with the streamer playing the game. From there, you play the game while engaging with the chat as best you can. I’ve grown accustomed to that process and enjoy it. There’s something cool about being able to have these quasi-direct conversations with others in the chat that you’d never have otherwise. However, there’s a magic that happens when you bring multiple people together face-to-face, or at least voice-to-voice. As if making a regular stream wasn’t hard enough, it’s even more difficult to put multiple people from different places in the same window.