Twitch wants to make it easier for creators to attract guests to their live streams, talk show style – and everyone becomes a creator.
The company is announcing Guest Star, a new feature that will tie into existing streaming software, allowing stream hosts to bring up to five guests into a stream and swap them seamlessly.
Using Guest Star, streamers will be able to invite anyone with a Twitch account to access a stream from a desktop computer or the Twitch mobile app. Creators can host and manage their guests directly in Twitch Studio or OBS, the tool of choice for many of the app’s more advanced streamers.
The feature will first launch to a small group of invite-only Twitch users who are already active in the Just Chatting scene – Twitch’s burgeoning category where streamers hang out casually rather than focus on chatting. Games. In the fall, streamers who want to try Guest Star will be able to sign up for a beta and get continued access. Later this year, Guest Star will open to all Twitch users.
The company anticipates that its community will use Guest Star for formats such as game shows, advice columns, and radio-style sports talk shows. Unlike Twitch’s Squad Stream feature, which allows four creators to livestream together but requires them to be Twitch partners, Guest Star will eventually be available to all users, regardless of their importance on the platform. The move to bring all users into the fold suggests Twitch is widening its reach to its highest-earning creators, an elite slice of its users who generate more than half of the platform’s revenue.
Voice or video chat
Creators who want to attract live guests can either invite them directly or enable a mode that allows requests, much like raising your hand in Clubhouse or Zoom. Guests who get the nod get a pop-up notification they can click to join to go live on the stream.
Guest Star supports video, but it will also allow creators to host voice-only streams. Even if hosts want to broadcast live video themselves, they can toggle a setting for guests to be audio-only before joining, by disabling their cameras.
During the pandemic, chat apps have exploded, and Twitch likely recognizes that its community needs more tools to facilitate the kind of casual, free-flowing social spaces that made the voice-only app Clubhouse a smash hit. In late 2020, Twitch introduced a feature called Watch Parties that allows creators to co-watch streaming Amazon Prime videos.
Twitch’s “Just Chatting” category has also exploded since the pandemic began. Comparing the first five months of 2022 to the first half of 2020, hours watched in the category jumped 151% and revenue for Just Chatting creators increased 169%. The number of live hours from Twitch accounts primarily streamed in the category increased by 68%.
The company anticipates that streamers will take advantage of the new feature for content such as AMAs, coaching sessions, and even political town halls.
“From a creator-to-creator perspective, we [view] it’s a great opportunity for creators to collaborate together,” Christopher Miles, senior product manager at Twitch, told TechCrunch.
He noted that Guest Star will be a big step forward for streamers who are used to digging into Reddit threads and dealing with unreliable connections with third-party software to make their streams more collaborative.
Guest Star and Security
Given how “interactive” the product is, even by Twitch standards, Guest Star incorporates some of the platform’s latest security tools to make the experience as smooth as possible. While Guest Star is designed to feature subscribers and followers – not just other creators – the Host and any mods they work with have full control. This includes deciding who is invited to join a stream, whether they are allowed to use their camera or just their mic, whether they can share their screen, all the way to controlling their audio levels. Guests who break the rules can be promptly expelled at any time.
When deciding who to spotlight through Guest Star, creators and mods can see who in the channel is a possible ban violator, known stalker, or otherwise suspicious user who might be prone to misbehavior. Twitch rolled out a new security feature to automatically detect and report suspicious users in November, and that technology is now integrated into the new streaming format.
In the Guest Star tool, mods and creators can see an overview of user behavior directly from the invite window, including how long a user has been a follower and past posts that he shared in the chat. Creators working with many moderators can designate which mods have the power to manage Guest Star and push guests live.
Guest Star also has its own virtual green room where anyone typed as a guest can audio and video check and hang out until they go live. Mods and hosts can easily direct guests back to this waiting area at any time and it can also be whispered live for easy behind-the-scenes communication and coordination.
Because Guest Star is tied directly to Twitch, guests who disrupt or violate platform rules can be reported, which Twitch sees as an advantage for Guest Star over third-party workarounds.
“Creators are already doing all these cool things today right now,” Miles said. “Twitch wants to make this easier and safer.”