Trying to build an audience on Twitch can feel like hosting a party that you forgot to send out invitations for. You boot up your favorite game, get the lighting just right on your webcam, maybe put on some mood music, and wait… but nobody comes in!
Popular streaming personalities can draw a crowd with just about any game, but if you’re a small fish in a big pond, the games you pick could leave you languishing in obscurity. If you want to pique curiosity and boost your traffic, consider these questions when you pick which games to stream.
Does It Have An Active Community?
This one may seem obvious, but it’s far too important to risk leaving out. If nobody’s thinking about the game you’re playing, they’re not going to be searching for it. This means you need to make sure you’re playing games that at least some people still talk about. Browse around and see if the game you want to play has an active forum, a few other regular streamers, or even an active Steam community page.
It can also help to announce your stream in appropriate forums to get your message straight to the target audience. Just make sure they don’t frown on shameless plugs before you post about your stream. Some people resent what they perceive to be advertising in their conversation space, even though your intent really is to provide them entertainment.
Am I Extremely Competitive At It?
Can you blaze through a game in a jaw-dropping speed run? Are you good enough at Dota 2 or Starcraft II to win real money at tournaments? If so, you probably don’t have trouble drawing your core viewers with dazzling displays of skill. Spread proof of your prowess around on social media and get people talking to grow your audience.
If you’re not a strong contender in a game where the primary draw is competitive multiplayer though, you may want to pass on running eSports streams. It’s easy to look at the tens or even hundreds of thousands watching the top games on Twitch and want a slice of that audience, but most of those viewers are watching their favorite pros or tournament coverage. Your most dedicated followers may show up for you, but you’re unlikely to get more than a handful of new follows surrounded by such fierce competition.
Is It An Outlet For Creative Expression?
Are you a master of interior design in The Sims 3? Have you made sprawling incredible worlds in Minecraft? Any game that gives you enough flexibility to build totally unique creations could be a good choice for streaming. It’s a factor that ensures that no other stream is quite like yours. If the pitch for what you’re crafting is interesting enough, potential visitors browsing for streams will overlook a below average viewer count, and peek in on your progress. Make sure you greet them warmly and invite them to stick around to see your masterpiece come together.
Is It Different For Every Player?
Games in which each player’s adventure can be moderately, or even dramatically different, are great at bringing in audiences. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, for example, has dozens upon dozens of obscure sidequests, and few players have seen them all. Grand Theft Auto V is similarly packed with optional content. Many players only have time to play through these games once, but might be curious about the paths they never took. Your stream could be the one to show them the other sides of various moral choices, and the rewards of thorough exploration.
Games like Rogue Legacy, Risk of Rain, or Civilization V fit this category for a different reason. They’re full of randomly generated environments and procedural challenges that ensure every play through has something new to offer.
On the other side of this question are games that you should probably avoid. If you’re playing a game with a linear story, players who have beaten it won’t have anything new to see, and interested viewers who haven’t may be trying to avoid spoilers.
Does It Have High Stakes?
When a player loses a fight in Dark Souls II, he loses souls, the game’s universal currency for shopping and character advancement. In XCOM: Enemy Unknown, a soldier that dies during battle represents a loss of hours of valuable training, and can begin a snowballing series of failures that bring the world to a catastrophic end. These and other games with high stakes make great streaming material because whether or not you win any given encounter will matter to your audience. Don’t be afraid to let yourself get tense about winning and losing when you play these games. Viewers will tune into your emotional investment, and keep watching to see if you can power through the challenge.
Is It On Sale Right Now?
Steam likely has the biggest impact on viewership as far as boosts due to sales are concerned, but keep your eye on other digital retailers like GOG, Humble Bundle, and Sony and Microsoft’s online storefronts. A sudden drop in price can rekindle interest in an otherwise forgotten game, and if you’re live when players need to know if a game is a good buy, you can get thankful follows by meeting that need.
If a game you want to stream answers “yes” to even a few of these questions, it will likely help you draw fresh faces into your channel. The games you choose are only part of success your on Twitch, though. Your personal touch is one thing that no other Twitch channel has, so make sure to be an entertaining and informative host, and you’ll see more viewers in no time.
What are your favorite games to watch on Twitch? Do they meet these criteria? Put these questions to the test against your experience in the comments.