Twitch announced that they have launched their Twitch Skill on all Alexa-enabled devices in the United States. This Skill enables people to control Twitch with their voice.
The Twitch Skill lets you play your favorite channels, discover new streamers, get notified when your favorite channels start streaming, and get a reminder when your Twitch Prime subscription is available to use.
You will need to enable the notifications permission for the Twitch Skill in your Alexa app to start receiving notifications. Alexa will notify you anytime a followed channel that you have notifications enabled for starts broadcasting.
Other features include:
- If you’ve linked your Twitch account, say “Alexa, ask Twitch for followed channels” or “Alexa, tell Twitch to show me channels I follow.”
- Discover a new channel for your favorite game or Twitch category by asking Alexa to show you who is playing a specific video game. You can also ask Alexa to suggest an IRL channel.
- You can ask Alexa to show you the Twitch streams that are popular.
- You can ask Alexa to suggest a game for you. Alexa will read you a list of popular games and you can select one to hear the most popular channels for it.
- You can ask Alexa to play a specific Twitch channel.
Twitch announced that they are collaborating with Blizzard Entertainment again to bring players a Legendary Loot Chest for Heroes of the Storm. This is not the first time the two companies have collaborated in this way.
In June, the offer was a Golden Loot Box for Overwatch for current and new Twitch Prime members. That offer is valid through August 20, 2017. In addition, there is another offer for Overwatch players who have Twitch Prime.
From August 10th – September 10th, Twitch Prime members will receive five Loot Boxes* for Overwatch. Then, in October, Twitch Prime members will receive five more Loot Boxes containing skins, emotes, highlight intros, and other in-game items to customize your heroes.
The asterisk leads to: Offer valid only in regions where Twitch Prime is available. Must own Overwatch to redeem. Loot Box does not include any seasonal event items. Content of Loot Box is random. Each Blizzard account may only redeem one code per promotional item.
At the time, Twitch stated that similar promotions would be coming in the months ahead for Heroes of the Storm players and for Hearthstone players. The Heroes of the Storm offer is valid right now. From August 17 to October 10, anyone who links their Amazon Prime account to their Twitch account will receive one Legendary Loot Chest that contains at least one Legendary item for Heroes of the Storm.
Players who are not currently a Twitch Prime member can sign up for a free Twitch Prime trial. Those who get Twitch Prime also get the benefits that come from Amazon Prime, including streaming movies and TV shows to ad-free viewing of your favorite Twitch streamers.
Twitch has introduced the Twitch Affiliate Program. It is for streamers who are not part of the Twitch Partner Program, but who are striving toward that goal. Twitch will decide which of their non-partnered creators is eligible for the Twitch Affiliate Program.
Introducing the Twitch Affiliate Program, which helps us expand that commitment to include tens of thousands of non-partnered creators. The program allows eligible streamers to start earning income on Twitch while building their audience, and provides a stepping stone to bridge the gap between emerging streamer and Twitch Partner. At launch, Affiliates will be able to start Cheering with Bits on their channel so their communities have an on-platform choice for showing support.
Twitch streamers cannot apply to be in the Twitch Affiliate Program. Twitch will invite streamers who qualify to sign up for it. Invitations are expected to roll out gradually over the next several weeks.
- At least 500 total minutes broadcast in the last 30 days
- At least 7 unique broadcast days in the last 30 days
- An average of 3 concurrent viewers or more over the last 30 days
- At least 50 followers
Twitch will provide participating Affiliates a share of the revenue Twitch receives from Bits equal to 1 cent per Bit used to Cheer for them, subject to certain terms and conditions. Twitch Partners get Custom Cheermotes – Twitch Affiliates do not.
Twitch Partners payout timeframe is 45 days, and payout fees are covered by Twitch. Twitch Affiliates payout timeframe is 60 days, and the Affiliate has to cover the payout fees themselves.
Twitch, the leading social video platform and community for gamers, has agreed to acquire Curse, a leading global multimedia technology company focused on creating content and products specifically for gamers.
Curse might be best known for the add-ons it makes for World of Warcraft, Minecraft, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and other PC games. Curse also has helpful information in the form of wikis and news guides, that can help players. Business Wire says that more than 30 million people visit Curse’s web properties, video channels, social media channels, and desktop application each month.
Twitch is the go-to site for people who stream their video game play, and therefore, also for the people who want to watch those streams. More than 100 million community members gather to watch and talk about video games with more than 1.7 million streamers each month.
In 2014, Amazon purchased Twitch for $970 million.
Twitch has posted a very happy and excited announcement that Curse is the newest member of the Twitch family. Curse has a brief note that points out that Curse is now part of the Twitch family (with a link to the announcement on the Twitch website). Part of that announcement says:
This acquisition will help provide gamers with the tools and resources they need to achieve the ultimate gaming experience, a mission shared by both Twitch and Curse. Together Curse and Twitch will help gamers connect, interact, and share information with one another.
There is some speculation that this acquisition could result in a push for gamers on Twitch to use what originally was called Curse Voice (and is now called Curse) instead of Discord, Teamspeak, Skype, or other similar services. Many gamers use those types of services to communicate with the other players on their team while gameplay is going on.
Twitch has introduced something new called Cheering. It is a way for people to show support for streamers and to celebrate exciting moments with the community. The system is currently in beta and can only be used with Cheer-enabled Partners. Twitch hopes to add “more cool stuff” in coming months.
Cheering functions sort of like a microtransaction. People start by clicking on the Bits icon that appears next to the emote button on channels that have Cheering enabled. Right now, you can get 100 Bits for $1.40 (and the prices go up from there). Twitch is using Amazon Payments as their payment technology, but appears to be considering adding additional local payment methods and currency support in the future.
After you have purchased some Bits, you can use them to support a Cheer-enabled Partner on Twitch. Type “cheer” into the chat, followed by a number. It will show up in the chat with a special Bits Emote icon. Those who do a lot of Cheering in a specific channel can earn a Cheer Chat Badge.
What does this mean for people who stream on Twitch? Only Cheer-enabled partners are able to make use of the Cheering system. In one of the blog posts that Twitch created to explain Cheering, it says:
Twitch provides participating partners a share of the revenue Twitch receives from Bits equal to 1 cent per Bit used to Cheer for them, subject to certain terms and conditions such as our Bits Acceptable Use Policy.
The same blog posts states that this is the first version of Cheering. Twitch expects that Bits will also be available through promotions and as rewards for activities on Twitch. They are also working to provide additional benefits to broadcasters that people Cheer for. Again, it is still in Beta, so there could be a lot of changes made before it is finalized.
A lot has been made about Microsoft’s latest operating system Windows 10. Many people prefer it over the operating system it replaced, though that isn’t necessarily saying much. The big problem people have with this latest platform is how much Microsoft is pushing it, and doing so hard.
The latest problem that Microsoft’s relentless pushing has caused happened to professional gamer Erik Flom, and it was live on the game streaming site Twitch.
This isn’t the first time such an incident has occurred, we recently saw during a TV news broadcast when the weather map was suddenly overlaid by a prompt to upgrade to Windows 10. While that incident was taken good-naturedly by the meteorologist, this one did not meet with the same reaction. There was cursing involved and video of the whole incident has gone viral thanks to Reddit.
In this case, it was not a message prompting the upgrade, Flom already was using the OS. But getting it doesn’t solve the problem of Microsoft inserting itself into people’s lives. Updates to Windows 10 can also be forced. There’s an obvious reason for that — security vulnerabilities.
But as security firm Sophos points out “Unfortunately, cyberattackers don’t need to rely on zero-days, where a security patch isn’t available, because so many users remain unprotected against security bugs with fixes that are available – and have been for weeks, months, or even years”.
While Microsoft pushing these updates can be looked at as a good thing, perhaps there could be a better way, such as doing so when a PC is inactive.
Scott Ertz interviews Marc Todd about the Skreens HDMI video mixing box.
The concept of the skreens video mixing box is that it takes multiple HDMI sources such as an X-Box, Roku, Apple TV, etc. and mixes it in user-configurable windows on a single large screen via HDMI. The individual video screen input sizes are controlled in real-time via iPad and Android tablet apps. The skreens box will be coming in two versions, a 2 HDMI port version, and a Pro version with 4 HDMI ports. Both versions have an integrated web browser.
The 4 HDMI port skreens Pro box is also capable of streaming the mixed 1080p video live to Twitch or YouTube.
Both models of the skreens boxes should be available in the second half of 2016. Final pricing has yet to be set.
You can sign up for product updates at the skreens.com website.
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Twitch updated its Rules of Conduct section to make it clear that streamers are expected to wear clothing. That may seem like a “no-brainer”. In general, dress codes are not put into Rules of Conduct unless there have been problems. I’m not aware of anything specific that may have prompted this change, but it seems to me that Twitch must have had reasons for making it.
The new change to their Rules of Conduct includes a section called “Dress…appropriately”. The key portion says:
Wearing no clothing or sexually suggestive clothing – including lingerie, swimsuits, pasties, and undergarments – will most likely get you suspended, as well as any full nude torsos, which applies to both male and female broadcasters.
It goes on to says that “you may have a great six-pack” but suggests that you share that at the beach instead of on Twitch. The new rule is directed at both male and female streamers, but I kind of doubt that Twitch has had too many problems with men wearing “lingerie, swimsuits, pasties, and undergarments”.
In case that wasn’t clear enough, Twitch went ahead and offered some advice to help people to stay within the boundaries of the rules. If the lighting in the room is too hot, get fluorescent bulbs. You can crop the webcam so that it only shows your face. Move your Xbox One Kinect closer to you as a means of cropping your image. Or, you know, you could always turn it off.
Twitch has been making lots of controversial changes lately, and this has not gone unnoticed by the gaming community. The addition of a new Audio Recognition System has been problematic. The system has been improperly flagging some audio that was cleared through creative commons (and therefore, should not have been flagged at all). After much outcry, Twitch has stated that it will deploy an “Appeal” button.
In short, the purpose of the Audio Recognition system was to identify music that has a copyright and that was used in videos on Twitch that are available on demand. (They call those “Video on Demand” or VOD). Twitch partnered with Audible Magic.
When the Audio Recognition system identifies music that is in the Audible Magic database, it automatically mutes the portion of the video on demand in which that music appears. (The Audio Recognition system is not being used on videos that are streamed live on Twitch.) It can scan 30 minute blocks of a video. If third party audio is detected anywhere in the 30-minute scanned block, the entire 30 minutes will be muted.
Twitch explains it this way on their blog:
“We’ve partnered with Audible Magic, which works closely with the recorded music industry, to scan past and future VODs for music owned and controlled by clients of Audible Music. This includes in-game and ambient music. When music in the Audible database is detected (“Flagged Content”), the affected portion of the VOD will be muted and the volume controls for that VOD will be turned off. Additionally, past broadcasts and highlights with Flagged Content are exportable but will remain muted.”
This new addition to Twitch is very similar to what YouTube is using to identify audio that has a copyright and that has been used in videos that appear on YouTube. Both systems have returned “false positives” and flagged things that should not have been flagged. As such, Twitch is deploying an “appeal” button for the VODs that have been incorrectly flagged for copyrighted music.
I suspect this is not going to be enough to appease gamers who have had their audio muted without warning when all they were doing was streaming the ambient music that is in a video game. It’s not going to go over well with gamers who have had 30 minutes of their audio muted because they played one 2 or 3 minute song that had a copyright on it, either.
Twitch is a great place to check out if you want to watch people play video games. For example, I’ve been watching people stream as they play the beta of Diablo III: Reaper of Souls. Its awesome to get a glimpse of what will be in the upcoming expansion.
Sadly, though, it seems that some of the people who use Twitch to stream themselves playing video games are abusing the service. Recently, Twitch streamer Darckobra was banned after he chose to do some “not safe for work” (and completely inappropriate) things while streaming. I’ll leave you to visit the Gamer Revolution article for further details about exactly what happened.
The guy, and his wife, were playing a PS4 game called The Playroom. The game uses the PlayStation Camera and requires a DualShock 4 wireless controller. The camera shows your living room on the screen, and adds playful little robots that you can interact with. In other words, it is an augmented reality “game” that is designed to show off what the PS4 can do.
Twitch sent out the following tweets to show that they will be cracking down on “non-gaming” content:
It is possible to stream The Playroom through Twitch.tv (or Ustream) through the Live From PlayStation feature. Parents should be aware that watching a stream of The Playroom may or may not be appropriate for children to view. That’s rather sad, since it looks to me like The Playroom is something that is primarily entertaining to children.