The Twitch platform is easily one of the most influential creations of the last twenty years. Even early on, there were hints that the platform was going to shake up gaming, entertainment, and tech industries. The original site, known as Justin.tv, was launched in 2007 and sold to another group at Twitch in 2010.
By 2014, the live-streaming gaming platform had amassed enough attention, streamers, and subscribers to warrant an Amazon buyout. Shortly after, YouTube cut into the hype by launching its own live-streaming features. Even Microsoft attempted to take a bite out of the live-streaming craze with its failed Mixer project.
Almost twenty years after Twitch’s start as Justin.tv and it’s still going strong. According to TwitchTracker, there are over 7 million active monthly streams as of 2023. Subscribers have watched over 464 billion minutes of live-streamed content—and it’s not uncommon for the giant to nab around 2.46 million concurrent viewers for popular streams.
Clearly, Twitch has set itself up as the primary platform for serious streamers and their followers. But not all of them are gamers anymore. In fact, Twitch’s early focus on gaming may not be its cornerstone another twenty years into the future. Let’s dive into the myriad possibilities.
Twitch Will Continue Diversifying
Twitch has branched out from its focus on video gaming. In the last few years, adjacent topics have taken off. Poker is a standout hit, as it straddles the line between traditional gaming and strategic thinking. Streamers in 2023 are branching out even further, hosting events like home games for their followers to get even closer to the action.
Poker is an easy shoo-in for traditional gamers who enjoy League of Legends and Call of Duty, as it challenges their critical thinking skills like any live game does. But other streamers are gaining a following far beyond the bounds of gaming. For example, 2023 has seen talk show content, makeup tutorials, and even wildlife safaris take off in popularity. Moving forward, expect to see even more unique approaches to live stream content.
Twitch Will Incorporate Augmented Reality
When Twitch first launched, it was at the forefront of live streaming technology. In fact, this is what made the platform a hit—it put live streaming on the map. In the future, the platform’s success will depend on its ability to adapt to new tech. While VR streams exist, the tech is too pricey and out of reach for most subscribers to adopt.
But that’s not the case for augmented reality, which is a looser blend of physical and digital worlds. So far, Twitch streamers have shown off special AR face masks, which let streamers create 3D-modeled overlays. However, AR capabilities remain limited—and also dependent on a subscriber’s tech. Going forward, it’s likely AR projects will become a focus for some channels.
Twitch Will Become More Monetized
Many successful Twitch streamers, from Ninja to AuronPlay, rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars a month. However, much of their monetary success comes from sponsorships and crowd-funding—not the platform itself. While Twitch offers different options for how a streamer can monetize their content, via partner and affiliate programs, the company itself has had a notoriously hard time filling its pockets.
Unfortunately, this means it’s not out of the question that Twitch will incorporate more microtransactions in the future. Its last major monetization update was back in 2016—which means another update is likely in store in the next few years.
Twitch Will Influence Education
One of the most surprising frontiers of entertainment technology is education. Gamification has become a buzzword over the last few years, as many companies and educational institutions use gaming mechanics and platforms to improve their teaching models. Twitch is likely to be a focus for these types of pursuits.
Already, we outlined how poker is a popular new topic, along with other creative streams from makeup tutorials to safaris. Clearly, there’s already an educational element to these topics. Subscribers enjoy the content—but they’re also learning something new. Going forward, Twitch may also be a platform preferred by DIY hobbyists of all stripes, as they’re able to directly engage with viewers while they teach the basics of car mechanics, home improvement, or another topic.