Anyone with even the most casual interest in gaming has probably heard of Twitch. The streaming platform reported a whopping 26.5 million daily visitors in 2020.
In 2021, Twitch logged 2.84 million average concurrent viewers, breaking its record from the previous year by a huge margin.
Those are pretty insane numbers for a streaming platform, which begs the question:
Why is watching Twitch streams so appealing?
It’s a strange phenomenon. Even if you’re a fan of video games, the idea of watching someone else play may seem ridiculous. Why not just do it yourself?
There is actually much more to it than meets the eye. In this article, we’re going to take a look at six main reasons why people watch Twitch.
1. Streamers Are Really Entertaining
Anyone who watches streams religiously will tell you Twitch can be VERY entertaining. From xQc giving another hilarious rant on stream to Shroud showing off his insane aim on CSGO—all of these content creators are really just entertainers who use gaming as their creative outlet.
Streamers are generally very relatable because almost all of them start out as regular guys and gals who live-stream themselves playing Fortnite or Minecraft from their bedroom.
Some of them may have grown to become incredibly successful multi-millionaires, but they’re still more relatable to the average Joe than big-name celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio will ever be.
Twitch is also no longer just a platform for watching people play video games. It has evolved to become a platform where you can watch people play music, cook food, exercise, paint miniatures, or just chat. There’s literally an entire section called “Just Chatting” where streamers sit and chat with their viewers about whatever they want.
At its core, Twitch is pure entertainment. No matter what your hobbies or interests might be, you are guaranteed to find at least one broadcaster to watch out of the millions on the platform who shares it.
2. Twitch Fosters Tight Communities
The communities some Twitch streamers have cultivated are among the best on the internet. Streamers set the mood and rules of the stream, and the type of energy they put out directly impacts the type of audience they attract.
If you’re a fan of a particular streamer, then there’s a big chance you’ll fit in with their community. To help with discoverability, Twitch features identity tags that make it easy for viewers to find streamers who share their identity.
Tags have been a big help in promoting diversity and inclusivity, particularly for members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Viewers can use the chat box to directly interact with the streamer and audience. Many of the people who are active in chat are usually long-time supporters of the streamer, so you’re bound to see a lot of familiar usernames pop up if you regularly tune in.
3. Twitch Helped Make Esports and Gaming Events a Global Phenomenon
Twitch has played a huge role in turning video games into a spectator sport and has become synonymous with competitive esports. Companies that organize major tournaments now broadcast annual competitions on their official Twitch channels. Sometimes top streamers broadcast tournaments to their audience and provide entertaining commentary.
Major gaming industry events like E3, Sony State of Play, Xbox Gamescom, and Nintendo Direct are all broadcast on Twitch. Rather than wait for gaming journalists to provide write-ups and reports, gamers can watch the whole thing from start to finish on official Twitch channels.
4. Streamers Are Great Teachers
There’s no better way to learn how to play a game than to watch someone play it. You can use the search feature to find a game you’re interested in.
No matter how niche or indie it might be, there’s a big chance someone in the world streamed it at some point. Twitch conveniently sorts games that are being streamed based on viewership. The higher the number of concurrent viewers for a game, the higher the game ranks on the featured listings.
Streamers come in all flavors, and while many are “variety” streamers who play various games, there is a sizable number of streamers who only focus on one game. For example, Dead By Daylight came out in 2016, but it’s still one of the top streamed games on Twitch.
There are hundreds of streamers who play it exclusively every single day of the week. These streamers have sunk thousands of hours into the game and freely share tips and tricks for optimal gameplay.
Learning opportunities are not just limited to video games; streamers who focus on a particular niche are always happy to share their knowledge with their audience.
For example, fitness streamers can answer your weight-loss questions, art streamers can explain various techniques, and coding streamers can show you how app development works in real time. There’s something for everyone on Twitch.
5. See Whether a Game Is Worth the Money
Any video game publisher worth its salt has a budget for paying streamers to play their new game. Top streamers who pull 15,000 or more simultaneous viewers reportedly get paid anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000 or more per hour to play newly released games.
It may sound insane to shell out that much just to showcase a game, but it’s actually an innovative way to market a new product. Instead of showcasing a game through a 30-second ad or a sketchy pop-up banner, publishers get to showcase hours of gameplay directly to their target audience using a trusted public figure.
$25,000 or $50,000 an hour is really pennies when compared to the tens of millions AAA game publishers like EA, Rockstar, or Bethesda spend on traditional advertising.
Every major game publisher now sends advanced copies to streamers to give their target market a first look at their latest game. Sometimes even obscure indie games that were published years ago can get a boost after being picked up by a big streamer. The success of Among Us in 2020 is a great example of this phenomenon in action.
6. Watching Streams Is Comfy and Relaxing
Sometimes you just want to zone out while watching someone play your favorite game, or maybe you want something on as background noise while you do other things. Twitch is a great medium for that type of content but with a social aspect.
The charisma of a streamer plus the cozy vibe of a friendly chat is the perfect recipe for relaxing after a long day at work. Many streamers have built their entire brand around providing a “comfy” experience for their audience. There’s even a Twitch channel that replays episodes of Bob Ross’ The Joy of Painting, and he’s the undisputed king of comfy vibes.
The Bottom Line
Twitch has become the new cable TV for Millennials and Gen Z. People tune in every day to enjoy unscripted, interactive content directly from their favorite personalities. The direct access coupled with the relatability factor creates an incredibly strong bond between streamer and viewer that even surpasses that of Hollywood celebrities and their fans, and is one of the main reasons why people watch Twitch.
The pandemic proved to be a huge boon for Twitch. Its engagement and viewership numbers broke records in 2020 thanks to viewers under lockdown searching for new content to consume. The number of streamers on the platform surpassed 9 million in 2021 and is projected to continue to grow in 2022 and beyond.
The platform has something for everyone. Is watching people play video games not your jam? That’s OK! Maybe you can instead watch streams of people practicing art, coding, cooking, fitness, meditation, music, TTRPGs, knitting, and more. Approach with an open mind, and you may be surprised by the entertainment value you get from Twitch.