GamesBeat

Twitch blazing a path to livestreaming ubiquity with its updated SDK (interview)

If Sony came out of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) trade show as the favorite for the next-generation console war, then gameplay-streaming platform Twitch further cemented itself as a favorite in its own market segment.

Twitch is powering the native-streaming solution in Microsoft’s Xbox One console, but that’s only part of the story. The company is moving into the next phase with its software-development kit that could bring streaming to even more games and platforms.

“We’ll be complacent when we’re dead,” Twitch chief executive Emmett Shear told GamesBeat at E3. “Right now, our goal is to make this method of interaction ubiquitous — and we are so far from true ubiquity. There’s still many platforms where it’s impossible to broadcast gameplay. When we really have something that is good for everyone to use … well, that’s when we’ll have to raise our sights again.”

Shear is really that ambitious. He smiled when he said his company would have to find a new goal when they hit their current target of  universal streaming, but it is clear that he is serious.

This prompted Twitch vice president of marketing Matthew DiPietro to chuckle and break into what is clearly a well-worn saying around the Twitch offices because Shear joined in with him:

“When you can broadcast from every game and every platform and view from every game and every platform, then we might go to lunch,” they said in near unison, although one of them did say that “we’ll take a few months” instead of “lunch.”

Shear claims that ubiquity is still a distant goal, but Twitch is quickly blazing a path to that outcome. Last week, the company opened up its software-development kit to all developers. Twitch’s SDK enables any studio to add native Twitch streaming to their games. The plug-in is available now through Twitch’s developer page. This is the same SDK that select companies had access to and used in games like Planetside 2, The Showdown Effect, Shootmania: Storm, and Call of Duty: Black Ops II. It is also how EA and Raptr added Twitch functionality to their PC programs.

“The upside is that any publisher can use the SDK,” said Shear. “It can be done on PC. It can be done on iOS. It’s not something where you have to get the platform to cooperate.”

Of course, Shear and Twitch just finished getting a platform to cooperate in the Xbox One. Snatching something like that allows Twitch to gobble up a large number of players and titles all at once, but it also required the company’s development team to build support from the ground up.

On the other hand, the SDK is a simple solution that anyone can use. The plug-in also separates the company from its competition. Twitch is currently the only livestreaming site that is offering an SDK to game developers.

“There aren’t very many nonengine SDKs,” added Shear. “The closest thing would be something like [online multiplayer suite OpenFeint] on mobile, which was cool — but very different. We kinda had to forge our own path here.”

For gamers that love streaming or watching broadcasts, it is an exciting path. Twitch has a tool that any studio can just grab off the proverbial shelf and do whatever they want with. The end result is, likely, a lot more games on a lot more platforms streaming to the popular platform.


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