A big part of gaming culture is comparing games, playstyles, results, approaches, and solutions. Not to mention the fact that we, as gamers, are inherently attracted and entertained by other people playing video games.
This is why streaming has grown in popularity so fast, being used for everything from casual gameplay to grand tournaments and professional competitive matches.
If you ask any gamer out there, or any advanced computer user for that matter, about streaming and you will undoubtedly hear something about websites like Twitch and YouTube.
With Twitch being seen as the #1 platform for game streamers, are there any Twitch alternatives, and are they any good?
Let’s dive into this topic and see what the most popular streaming websites and alternatives are.
Find me here: https://www.twitch.tv/bone_junkie
- The most popular streaming platform in the world
- Very easy to get started
- You are not forced to pay anything
- Heavily regulated, new streamers should read all the rules properly before starting
- Can feel overwhelming at times, seeing channels with 40.000+ active subscribers
- Official tournaments and competitions often overshadow regular streams, but only for a small period of time.
By far the most popular and best-known streaming website in the world, Twitch boasts not only an active streaming base of millions of streamers at any given point in time but also the most heavily regulated and most closely monitored streaming website out there.
This makes it very difficult for toxic streamers, and toxic communities to exist on Twitch for long, making it one of the safest and most fair streaming platforms in the world.
So much so that Twitch is regularly the main host and streaming choice for professional and competitive tournament events such as “The League of Legends Champion Series (LCS)”, “The StarCraft II World Championship Series (WCS)”, “The World of Warcraft Arena Championship and Mythic Dungeon Invitational”, “The Overwatch World League”, and many others.
While Twitch offers support for all platforms, by far the most popular streaming choice is PC, with the vast majority of streamers often having a Gaming PC and a Streaming PC set up separately so that the stream does not go down if the gaming PC encounters problems.
Anyone and Everyone can stream on Twitch, all you need is a working computer, games to play, and streaming software which Twitch already provides form free open source ones (like Open Broadcast Software) to paid proprietary ones (like Xsplit).
You don’t have to pay anything to be able to stream on Twitch, and because of the sheer size of the website and its stream base, there is no such thing as “the ideal streamer.” It’s all about how much your viewers like you, your stream, your personality, and the games that you play.
There are also a lot of ways for streamers to monetize their activities and earn a legitimate living by streaming. First off, Twitch enables stream partners to place advertisements on demand during their streams. This is particularly useful for bits of downtime such as when the streamer has to go to the bathroom or when taking a small break.
Not only that, but there are also various advertising options that the streamer can use to his or her advantage including the subscription system.
People can subscribe and help support their favorite stream, with subscription fees starting off at $4.99. There are also various ways in which a user can donate, such as direct donation via PayPal, or by simply buying bits (Twitch internal donation system).
This does not mean that users are forced to subscribe or donate to streamers, they can just watch the stream without having to subscribe.
However, the streamer can give extra advantages to subscribers, like giving them access to recorded past broadcasts (or VODs), as well as putting the stream chat on “Subscriber-only mode,” making it so that only subscribers can interact with the streamer and each other.
One last thing that Twitch is known for is the fact that it facilitates the creation and development of actual communities around a certain stream or streamer.
Twitch makes it easy for streamers to interact with their communities, set up events, giveaways and activities, as well as connecting the channel itself to apps like the Twitch App and Discord, making it a lot easier for community members to interact with each other, play games together, form friendships and grow stronger together.
2. YouTube Gaming
Find me here: https://gaming.youtube.com/bonejunkielp/
- Easily bridges the gap between prerecorded footage and live streams
- It is the easiest platform to get started with
- It is very well defined while at the same time very accessible
- Not as popular and as well-known as other platforms
- It only relies on ads as its main revenue generator
- Users in some countries are unable to donate and support their favorite streamer directly
YouTube Gaming is YouTube’s response to dedicated streaming platforms, and the more interesting thing about it is the fact that it is also tied to the gaming channels themselves rather than strictly being focused on live streams.
At its core, YouTube gaming is all about gaming, with the search engine being specifically designed and geared for gaming searches, as well as all the content featured being gaming content.
For example, type in the word “call” in the YouTube Gaming search bar and the vast majority of the result will be about “Call of Duty,” with a cheeky “Pro Evolution Soccer” one in there.
Whereas if you were to type “call” in the YouTube search bar, you would get a plethora of results such as songs, pranks, hunting instructional videos, and even soundtracks.
Another interesting thing about this platform is the fact that your YouTube channel and your YouTube Gaming channel are tied together.
This means that the gaming content that you have posted on your YouTube channel will also appear and be viewable on your YouTube Gaming channel.
The same goes for subscriptions, when you are subscribing to a YouTuber, you are subscribing to both the YouTube and the YouTube Gaming channel at the same time.
Regarding popularity, YouTube Gaming banks on the fact that it is very easy to start streaming, as well as the added convenience that both the stream and the gaming videos are in the same place, however, it is nowhere near as popular as Twitch.
YouTube Gaming makes it easy to stream on all gaming platforms, however by far the most popular one is still the PC.
When it comes to getting started streaming on YouTube Gaming, things are a bit different.
First off, it is completely free, with no extra software, no hidden fees and no weird shenanigans that you need to keep in mind. As long as you have a YouTube channel, you have a YouTube Gaming channel.
The dashboard of the gaming channel itself acts as the streaming software, skipping over the performance impact that 3rd party software has. Setting up the stream is fairly simple, and as long as you have a game to play and a solid internet connection, you are good to go.
Anything and everything else is just a bonus if you want to add more quality to the stream or better interact with the community. Again, there is no real “ideal streamer” template here. However, it does make it easier to become a popular one.
Because of the cross between the YouTube and YouTube Gaming channels, it is a lot easier to get the people that watch your content also to watch your stream, and vice versa.
Monetization works pretty much the same way as it does on YouTube, with the channel owner getting to choose whether to enable ads or not, as well as choosing from 3 different types of ads that can be played on the stream.
The ad revenue system is the only actual revenue system that the platform offers. However it does allow the viewers to directly sponsor and support the channel through an internal donation system.
It is also worth noting that this donation system is not available to users from all countries, some viewers being unable to support and sponsor their favorite streamer.
Also, the ads that will roll on YouTube Gaming streams are subject to the same ad policies as all other YouTube ads, so you might want to read through them before going forward.
The subscription system that this platform offers is completely free, just like the normal YouTube subscription.
When it comes to growing a community and gaining a following through YouTube Gaming, the truth of the matter is that it is rather easy, considering you have both your YouTube channel and your YouTube Gaming channel to work with at the same time.
Recently, they started merging both channel subscriptions, but overall there are no hindrances nor obstacles that you will have to take into account.
Find me here: https://mixer.com/BoneJunkie
- Very easy to use both as a streamer and as a viewer
- A simple and transparent payment system
- Backed and supported by Microsoft
- Support options locked behind a premium membership
- No ad system, meaning fewer revenue sources
- Restrictive to PC and Xbox One
Something that is not obvious at first glance is the fact that this website is owned and administrated by Microsoft. The mixer used to be known as “Beam”, however, it was purchased by Microsoft and renamed to Mixer.
The result was a viable and rather competent alternative to Twitch.
The best thing about this site is the fact that it natively supports Xbox and Microsoft streaming, making it incredibly easy and intuitive to stream with the built-in streaming tools that Windows 10 and Xbox One provide.
The major downside is the fact that these are not as advanced as the streaming tools offered by third-party developers. In fact, they offer just the bare basic of features, with no effects, extra scenes, transitions, animations or script support.
While they are fairly popular, they are rather restrictive regarding what gaming platforms you can stream off of, currently providing reliable and stable support for PC and Xbox One.
It is very easy to use, the main thing that you would need is a Microsoft account and a PC running Windows 10 or an Xbox One.
While it is free, there is an $8 premium membership option, which is mostly for support availability and maintenance. However, it is strongly suggested that streamers opt for this premium membership to reduce any potential stream downtime due to technical problems.
Something very interesting about Mixer is the way in which it generates its revenue. Simply put, it is completely crowd funded. It does not have an ad system, yet, but it has a subscription system in place.
The subscription is around $5, and it is split 50% between the streamer and Mixer. All you need to do to be able to use the subscription system is to become partnered with Mixer.
Because of how simple this website is to use, it is rather easy to create and grow a following community. The only downside is the fact that you don’t have access to platforms other than PC or Xbox One.
But if the channel is properly cared for and the streamer is consistent and likable, the following will come and grow in just a matter of time.
- A good option for people interested in earning as much money as possible from streaming in the least amount of time
- Fairly easy to get started with
- Not as heavily regulated as others
- Variable subscription model
- The streamer does not have any real control over ads
- It is so unpopular it is very difficult to get a following and grow it.
The resulting merger between Azubu.tv and Hitbox.tv, Smashcast.tv is a more obscure and a lot less popular streaming website, generally used by streamers that either started out on Azubu or Hitbox or have been banned from Twitch and have sought to reinvent or continue their streaming career.
Right off the bat, you will see that the quality of Smashcast is significantly lower than other streaming platforms, with glaring design problems and management decisions that are difficult to understand, to put it lightly.
First of all, as a streamer, you can become partnered with Smashcast just by verifying your account, which is done by attaching a PayPal account and proving that you are at least 18 years old.
In comparison, other platforms require you to have a certain follower base and meet certain conditions before even being considered as a partner. While this makes it a lot easier to start monetizing your stream, it also means that anyone and everyone can become a partner, drastically lowering the overall content quality and expectations.
Second, the website itself is rather lacking. While they did make it so that you can log in with your hitbox and Azubu accounts, it does not present you with the option of recovering your password or your account if you have lost or forgotten them. The only way to go about accessing Smashcast properly is to create a new email address and username.
In terms of actually streaming and getting started as a streamer, Smashcast makes it easy and intuitive.
First off, it costs nothing to become a streamer. As long as you have the computer to do it on, the games to play, and streaming software, you’re good to go. You can use any kind of streaming software you desire with Smashcast, from free open source ones to proprietary ones.
Just like in all other previous examples, by far the most popular platform that people stream off of is PC.
Something to keep in mind, if you want to start streaming on Smashcast, is the fact that, because of its lack of popularity, it is a lot more difficult to create a following and a community around your stream.
It is not impossible, and in all fairness, Smashcast gives you everything that you need to make it happen, but the very small viewer base will constantly be a hurdle.
When it comes to monetization, Smashcast works a bit different in comparison to other platforms.
First off, as a streamer, you can become a partner as soon as you verify your account, meaning that viewers can opt to subscribe to your channel as soon as possible. But the subscription model is flexible, depending on the content and various other factors. The variations are not too great and the average subscription price is around $5.
Some ads will be played on the stream itself, either at the start of the stream, at the end of it, or in the middle of it. The streamer is compensated for these ads. However, the user does not have complete control over when ads play and when they don’t.
Overall, if the website gets overhauled and developed properly, and if they focus on growing as a business rather than generating as much funding as possible, Smashcast could become a decent streaming platform and maybe even real competition to Twitch or YouTube Gaming.
5. Steam Broadcasting
- Great for people with a lot of people in their Steam Friends lists
- Helps people scope out a game properly before buying it
- Requires no effort, or thought, on the streamer’s side apart from clicking Allow or Deny
- No monetization system
- No way to form and grow a community
- No way of promoting yourself as a streamer
While Steam Broadcasting is technically streaming, it is not the type of streaming that we are all used to.
First off, this is a feature, rather than a service, and it is built right into Steam itself. That means that, when you play a game on Steam, all the people in your Steam friends list can right-click your name and select “Watch Game.”
That, in turn, will prompt you in-game that the respective friend is requesting your broadcast and you can choose to allow it or deny it.
This is not the kind of streaming in which you can properly interact with your viewers, nor is it the kind of streaming that you can build a proper solid community with, at least not yet.
It goes without saying that there is no monetization system here, nor any ads or subscriptions to worry about. This is just a way for your friends to watch you play a game and potentially scope the game out themselves.
This is a great system for streaming your gameplay to your friends, as well as making it easier to convince them to buy the game in question and play with you by seeing it for themselves.
- Allows users to simplify and limit chat
- Is very easy to set up
- Integrates streaming tools and features right into the platform’s dashboard
- No monetization system, yet
- Still fresh on the market
- Not as popular and as well-known as other platforms, yet
“A re-imagining of online streaming” is what is generally used to describe Caffeine, and for a good reason. 2 apple executives found the platform, and it promises to be the first “social streaming platform,” with an emphasis on the social aspect of streaming rather than the content itself.
It should be known that the platform itself is brand new on the market, launched at the start of February 2018, but is already generating a lot of interest.
What they did was limit the chatting system, allowing viewers to heavily alter the number of messages that they see, right down to only the people in their social circles or social media, if they so choose. This is good news for people that are fed up with the constant avalanche of messages that the very popular YouTube and Twitch channels present them with.
Another thing that they did was integrate streaming tools into the actual streaming platform, eliminating the need for third-party streaming tools and scripts.
As it stands, the platforms that are supported by this streaming service are PC, Mac, and iOS. There is even the option to stream off of an iPhone if the user wishes to do so.
Something else worth mentioning is the fact that there is no actual monetization system implemented yet. The system was designed in such a way that it treats streaming as a social interaction rather than a business or a way to generate income.
Currently, it is a bit too early to figure out whether or not a streamer is able to build and grow an actual community of Caffeine, mostly because there is no monetary incentive to do so. However, with new development and new implementations promised, only time will tell whether this platform is community builder or just a way to exercise a hobby.
7. Facebook Live
Tips to get started: https://www.facebook.com/facebookmedia/blog/tips-for-using-live
- Easily accessible
- A lot easier to form and grow a community
- Promotes mobility and access via mobile devices
- Difficult to stream gaming content
- Can run out of content ideas because of how close the community is to you
- No subscription system
This is a more direct and a little more community-driven approach to streaming, and while it is possible to stream gaming content through Facebook, it is a lot more difficult and a lot more unreliable than on other platforms.
In all fairness, Facebook live was never intended to stream proper gaming content, and as such it does not have the proper capabilities, bandwidth, or support for it.
That being said, social streaming and broadcasts via phone are still popular and a great way to stream your content to Facebook.
Although Facebook Live has been around for quite some time, it was always either in weird experimental phases or beta testing. However, it has been developed to the point where it is not only stable enough, but it is also reliable enough to monetize your content on it.
In regards to gaming content, your only real bet is through PC games, all other platforms requiring you to become a lot more creative and often pigeonholing you compromises such as broadcasting your screen with your phone.
In regards to how it works, though, it is fairly simple. You just go to your Facebook wall and simply select “Go Live.” It does not cost anything to stream and it does not require any third party software or external streaming tools.
Update: Restream.io makes it easier to stream to Facebook Live. We’ll get to that service in the following sections.
While there is no subscription system, there is a monetization system called “Ad Breaks.” As the name implies, you can choose to take small breaks, during which ads will play on your stream, and depend on how many people view those ads; you will get paid.
To qualify for this service, you need to have a following of at least 2000 people and a proven track record of a high number of viewers that your stream generates.
In regards to communities and growing your following, the good news is that it is very easy to do so. A huge part is played by the fact that it is directly on social media and it is easy to keep in touch with your following and grow the community. The problem here is the fact that, unless you have a properly made long-term strategy, you will most likely find yourself in a situation where you have no more content ideas and have to resort to improvisations.
Overall, this is the form of streaming that is the easiest to get into, and as long as the streamer has a solid plan going forward, he or she can pretty much guarantee content continuity and thrive on Facebook Live.
- Great for mobile streaming
- Very easy to use
- Very easy to promote yourself and grow a following
- Restricted to only Android and iOS
- No monetization system
- Private streams limited to 100 people
A rather new entry into the streaming market, this time from Japan. Solely focused on mobile streaming, this platform is designed and developed for streaming on smartphones and tablets.
The truth is that it’s more of a massive screen sharing app that allows you to share whatever is on your screen, along with your camera and mic, to your audience. Granted, there are safety features in place to protect your privacy, such as the mic being muted, the camera disabled and the screen blackened when you receive a phone call.
It also gives the streamer quite a lot of options to choose from, one of them being private streaming, where the streamer chooses who he or she streams for out of his or her list of friends, with a limit of 100 people per private stream.
Gaming-wise, the only gaming content you will be able to stream through this service is mobile gaming, as it is made for Android and iOS.
In regards to what it takes to stream on it, all you need is a smartphone or a tablet running Android or iOS and an internet connection. It is completely free, and it costs absolutely nothing to stream or view streams on this platform.
It is still a rather new platform, and the viewer base is still limited, so pinpointing the ideal streamer is impossible, however, with more time and development we could start seeing trends in the future.
The massive problem with this platform is money and monetization. There is no actual subscription system in place, nor an ad system for the streamer to generate revenue with.
The massive advantage is the fact that it makes it very easy to interact with your viewers, as well as promote yourself through social media while streaming. This makes it very easy to gain a following and grow it into an actual community.
All the comments that the streamer gets arrive as text messages and the streamer can simply reply to them as he or she wishes.
It is a nice and easy platform to use, and a great solution for people that want to stream mobile content, as well as more easily interact with their audience and community.
- Can be connected to streaming accounts on other platforms
- Uses non-intrusive integrated ads that don’t interrupt the actual content
- Free to use
- Not that big of a viewer base
- Can be difficult to start a community there
- It can get tiresome to interact with multiple chats at the same time
This is a bit of a strange addition to the streaming market, and while the basic concept of it is still being debated, it sees a steady rise in popularity and views.
The idea behind Mobcrush is simple. You create an account, and you can link multiple other streaming accounts to it, such as Twitch and YouTube, making it possible to stream on Mobcrush, while streaming on other platforms at the same time.
This is a more interesting way to broaden your content’s reach across different platforms, but it also comes with a few drawbacks.
For starters, it is more difficult to interact with different chats and interactions at the same time, plus the fact that it takes an extra toll on the computer’s overall performance. This is something that works to the advantage of streamers that sport a 2 computer setup (gaming PC hooked up to a dedicated streaming PC).
Another thing to take into account with Mobcrush is the fact that, although it is fairly well developed and designed, it is still a rather new addition to the streaming market, so it will take some time to build something on it.
In regards to the gaming platforms that you can stream off of, the favored one currently is PC. However, it is possible to stream off of Xbox, PS4, iOS, and Mac.
It is completely free, but you will need third-party software to stream, by far the most popular choice is Open Broadcast Software.
The ideal streamer for this platform is not somebody that is starting off from scratch, but rather streamers that have started out somewhere, and are looking to expand their reach or grow their community through other channels.
When it comes to monetization, Mobcrush has a pretty interesting system that it boasts. First off, it has no actual channel subscription.
The only mention of any subscription is for an overall premium membership.
The way in which it makes money is through partnership and integrated advertising, the same way some TV channels advertise certain content in the middle of a show. Non-invasive short adverts that are integrated into the actual stream, without pausing it or directing the viewer’s attention from the streamer and the content.
As far as communities go, this is a great place to grow a community, little by little, but it is not the best choice when it comes to creating a community from scratch.
Because it is still rather fresh on the market and are not that well known, yet, so building a following from scratch on it will be quite the undertaking.
Overall, it is a neat idea that can pay out great for streamers looking to expand their reach and appeal to a broader market, giving them the opportunity to grow a bit more and attract a larger following.
Upfront, this is not an actual streaming platform in of itself, but rather a service which allows you to stream across multiple platforms at the same time.
The service itself is free, but it offers premium packages which give you more features and stability, emphasis on stability, the base package even stating that it allows for “real-time channel management without encoder restart.”
A massive advantage that this service brings, however, is the fact that it allows you to stream to as many streaming platforms that you want, without actually taxing your PC too much.
In all fairness, you still get the performance hit that a normal stream would give, however, the data is streamed to the Restream servers and then distributed to the different streaming platforms.
The second massive advantage is the chat redesign that they have implemented, which compiles all the chat messages from all the different platforms that you stream on, in a single chat, making it a lot easier to keep track of your viewers and interact with them.
Overall, it is a great tool for new streamers, which have not decided on what platform to stream.
There are a lot of streaming platforms and services out there, each with its advantages and disadvantages. They have their quirks, they have their different methods, but they are all viable and potentially great options, depending on what you are looking for.
Choosing a streaming platform is not an easy thing to do, and depending on what choice you will make, you will have to adapt, design yourself, and grow accordingly, along with your community
Seeing as each and every one of the platforms listed here are free of charge, the best thing that you can do is try them out for yourself, one by one, and ultimately settle on the one that you feel fits you best.