Twitch integration on PS4? Streaming service and Sony weigh in
16th Aug 2013 | 17:44
Xbox One plans are still unclear, but potential is 'mind-boggling'
When Microsoft revealed at E3 2013 that the ridiculously popular game broadcasting service Twitch will be integrated directly into the Xbox One, our first question was whether the PS4 might host the service as well at some point.
But when TechRadar brought the issue up with Twitch Vice President of Marketing Matthew Dipietro, he - predictably - had little to say beyond vague teases. He didn't rule Twitch on PS4 out as a possibility, though.
"We are talking to a very wide swathe of the industry," Dipietro said. "My best way to say 'no comment.' That would be a great question to ask [Sony]. I can say this: we want to be everywhere…our strategy right now is we want to make broadcasting ubiquitous everywhere. And we want viewing on Twitch ubiquitous. Everywhere."
We took his suggestion and asked Sony, but they just as predictably had little to add. "Per your question, streaming services such as Ustream will be available for PS4," Sony Senior PR Specialist Mary Taing reiterated.
"By using the 'Share' button on the DualShock 4, you can easily broadcast your gameplay in real-time through Ustream, where fellow gamers can comment or jump into your game in new ways. In addition, you can also instantly upload images or video to Facebook by pressing the 'Share' button. We don't have additional details to share at this time."
Starting big and getting bigger
Twitch launched in June 2011 when founder and CEO Emmett Shear spun it off from Justin.tv after noticing how many gamers were using the service to stream gameplay footage.
As of June 2013, the service attracted more than 38 million unique viewers (up from 3.2 million its first month). Those viewers watch an average of 1.5 hours of Twitch content per day.
Those June 2013 numbers also include 600,000 unique broadcasters who stream everything from professional eSports matches to speed runs in classic games, and even less competitive programming like simple "Let's Play" videos.
The Twitch Partner Program has more than 4,500 members, and over the past two years Twitch has partnered with eSports leagues, conventions, publishers and developers, media outlets, and pro gamers, in addition to the hundreds of thousands of normal gamers who use it every month.
It's certainly a boon for the service to be integrated on Xbox One, though it's by no means the only thing Twitch has got going on.
'The potential is mind-boggling'
Dipietro also brought up the software development kit that Twitch launched this year. It provides developers with the tools to easily integrate Twitch features like metadata tracking and streaming within their games. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is a good example of this, and indie PC game Guncraft also recently announced Twitch integration as well.
Most importantly, the SDK is platform-agnostic, so devs can utilize those features on any platform - including PS4. But the software-level integration that the Twitch SDK allows will no doubt look different from the Xbox One's hardware-level Twitch features.
Speaking of which, we at TechRadar wanted to find out how exactly Twitch will work on Xbox One, bit unfortunately Dipietro had few specifics to share.
Yes, the Xbox One will be able to broadcast gameplay and voiceover through Twitch, and yes, players will stream from their Twitch accounts and be able to watch their favorite channels right on the console. Kinect and a headset work for video and audio commentary.
But beyond that, Dipietro (pictured left) had nothing else to reveal - mainly because the specifics aren't there yet.
"The actual UI on the Xbox One is very up in the air," he said, adding that there's still time for Microsoft to figure it out. "So we'll see what it shapes up to be."
The moment of truth is of course nearing, as the Xbox One is slated to arrive in November.
Without a dedicated "Share" button like the PS4 has on its controller, we wondered how players will access Twitch controls in the heat of the moment.
Dipietro assured us that it will be "a top level menu option," though again the specifics aren't nailed down. And he reminded us that some details for how the PS4's Share button will work are still missing, too.
"We'll see what it looks like," he said.
Nevertheless, he's sure that it will be a big step up from how streaming exists now.
"[Twitch on Xbox One] removes the entire technological barrier that had previously existed to broadcasting your games," he said.
Dedicated streamers currently have to invest in costly hardware and software just to be able to broadcast, and "even with all those barriers" Twitch still gets over 600,000 unique streamers a month.
"It's not actually very easy to do, and the community that does this on Twitch, they are very, very, very passionate about it," Dipietro said. "Now it's just a standard piece of the gamer experience on the Xbox One, and it has the potential to just 10 times the broadcast base…the potential is mind-boggling."
The Xbox 360 Twitch app debuted this year, and Dipietro revealed that the company was working with Microsoft in secret for at least a year leading up to the app's reveal.
But the 360 app only allows users to watch Twitch streams on their consoles, not to broadcast gameplay from them. On Xbox One, Twitch promises to finally bring that functionality to consoles.
"It has been frustrating for so many months to not be able to talk about [the Xbox One integration] until now," Dipietro said. "It's a weight off of everybody's shoulders to be able to finally have this out there and feel the excitement from the community."
- Twitch isn't the only new feature coming to Xbox One; check out TechRadar's list of ten overlooked Xbox One features you should know about.