Hype is important on Twitch. That’s why the company is gamifying it with a new feature called Hype Train, launching on Thursday. If you donate enough to a partnered or affiliate channel, you’ll see a bar pop up above chat, which will give donators rewards as it fills.
Hype is what powers the biggest events on the site — like, for example, Awesome Games Done Quick, which raises an astonishing amount of money for a charity every year. (This year’s beneficiary is the Prevent Cancer Foundation, and you can watch the streams live right now.) One person going off in chat with a large donation or a bunch of gifted subscriptions can prompt other viewers who feel similarly energized to do the same. When it happens, it’s a beautiful thing to see, especially when it’s in service of a good cause.
A Hype Train starts when a viewer or group of viewers contribute materially to a channel past a certain streamer-designated threshold. Twitch calls it a “spike in support events from different viewers in a channel” — basically an uptick in bits or subs — which kicks off a countdown timer. As the timer ticks down, viewers who donate above a minimum of 100 bits ($1.40 USD) will fill a meter that distributes emote rewards for everyone who’s donated. If the meter fills up before the timer ends, a new level is unlocked. And the more you donate, the more it fills. It’s also not just for charity; any partner or affiliate channel that has the feature enabled can have a hype train start.
There are five levels, each with custom Twitch-designed (and randomly distributed) emotes you’ll get to keep after the train ends. (The harder difficulty settings — Super Hard and Insane — give extra rewards to viewers.) Streamers can set how difficult it is to reach level goals as well as mandatory cool-down periods. If a Hype Train happens too often, as Twitch points out, it can fatigue viewers. And yes, because this is a train, there are conductors, aka the people who donate the most bits and subs.
Hype Train is currently in beta, but expect to see this feature in the wild Thursday afternoon. So go on! Toss a sub to your streamer.
Update January 9th, 4:25PM ET: This story has been updated with the date the feature is rolling out, which is this afternoon — Thursday, January 9th.