Twitch doesn't just want you watching games on its streaming service: it wants you interacting with them too. Building off of the success of internet sensations like "Twitch Plays Pokemon," today Twitch is announcing a new initiative called "stream first" that it hopes will encourage developers to start integrating Twitch functionality directly into their games. As part of the announcement, Twitch is also announcing a new set of development services to help creators add these features, as well as the first trio of "stream first" games, which show some of the possibilities of baked-in Twitch functionality.
Perhaps the most ambitious among the first batch of games is a title called Wastelanders, from Schell Games, which is a turn-based strategy game in which viewers and broadcasters each play a different role in the battle. Here's how Twitch describes it:
Broadcasters take on the role of a warlord in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, and lead their viewers in battle against another broadcaster-led team. By watching the stream and chatting, viewers can control warriors on the battlefield, set bounties on opposition warriors, place land mines, and alter the battle in other fun and surprising ways.
The company says that Wastelanders is still "in the very early stages of development."
Also included is Superfight, from studio Pipeworks, a game in which players create their own strange superheroes using attributes from a virtual deck of cards, and then argue over who would win in a fight; sort of like "Superman could beat up Batman" discussions, but more absurd. As each player makes their case, viewers can vote on which fictional character would win using a hashtag in chat. The game also supports Twitch features like four-way live video.
"An entirely new genre of video games."
Those two games are joined by Proletariat-developed Streamline, a 3D action game that looks sort of like a cartoony, colorful American Gladiators. Twitch describes it as "a fast-paced, arena-based game that allows a broadcaster to quickly create a party for up to 15 of their viewers and immediately jump into one of several game modes, such as a fast-paced game of cat and mouse, with the broadcaster as a hunter chasing down the other players as runners or a stream versus stream team game pitting the broadcasters and their communities against one another." Viewers will be able to do things like bet on runners to see who will win, or change the rules to spice things up. Streamline will also emphasize dual-screen stream watching, letting you vote and perform other actions using a mobile device in order to "keep the channel conversation flowing without being interrupted by ‘chat commands.'"
These aren't the first games to include some kind of Twitch functionality. Choice Chamber was similarly designed with streaming in mind, while even some blockbuster games, like the new Tomb Raider, include limited Twitch features. But with these new tools Twitch is hoping to encourage even more creators to jump on board, and to start thinking about streaming early on in development.
"In the last few years, we have seen a great deal of creativity in online interaction methods from the Twitch community, including Twitch Plays games, channel loyalty currencies, and subscriber tournaments, among many others," says Twitch's Brooke Van Dusen, who is heading up the new program. "However, these systems have always been external to the games broadcasters are playing. ‘Stream first' games by nature embrace these developments, incorporate features inspired by these creative concepts of Twitch community interaction, and bring about an entirely new genre of video games."