Streamline connects livestream broadcasters with their audience in new and exciting ways by having viewers interact with in-game events. The game was revealed at last September’s TwitchCon and marked the launch of Twitch Prime, a service that connects the Twitch livestreaming platform with its owner, Amazon. Users that signed on with Twitch Prime within 30 days of the announcement got the Streamline and a number of other digital extras for free.
More recently, Proletariat Inc., the developers of Streamline, has been working with Twitch to develop the Bounty system. A purchase button appears during a livestream of the game, giving viewers an opportunity to purchase Streamline via Twitch. Additionally, the broadcaster gets 30 percent of the sale, giving streamers an additional revenue source and more incentive to show the game. On top of that, Proletariat gave Streamline away for free last week on Steam as a limited-time event.
The CEO of Proletariat, Seth Sivak, spoke with [a]listdaily recently to discuss the company’s partnership with Twitch to promote Streamline and how the developer is tapping into the special relationship between broadcaster and audience.
Can you tell us what Streamline is about?
We built Streamline to be an action multiplayer arena game that has deep Twitch integration. The idea came from thinking about how you design games with the viewer and broadcaster in mind—building a game that can both help broadcasters create great content while being fun to play, as well as engage viewers in new and interesting ways.
What are some of the things viewers and players can do?
We built a viewer interaction platform called Streamote. The way it works is that viewers go to Streamote.tv [with a link to] the broadcaster they’re following and it has Twitch’s video and chat along with a handful of interactions. They include voting for changes to the rules of the game; turning on slow motion or low gravity; they can place bets on which player they think will win, which uses a loyalty point system that’s controlled by the streamer channel; and play games against other viewers, and the most popular one is bingo based on what the broadcaster is doing. For example, a double kill is a bingo tile on the viewer’s board. Each one has a unique board and they can play bingo against each other as they’re watching along the way.
How did you come to partner with Twitch to include the game with Twitch Prime subscriptions?
We’ve been working closely with Twitch as part of their dev success initiative for a while, and what ended up happening is that we started to talk with them early in the year and they became really interested. They wanted to support this type of game and developers, who are starting to think about doing more with the Twitch audience and community. When the option came up to partner with them as part of Twitch Prime and be the first game to be put up for sale on Twitch, we jumped at the opportunity to do that.
It came out of an early partnership with them. We really want to push this space forward—to make games with the idea that social video and Twitch specifically could be a platform for developers and games could be played on that platform in a new way.
What inspired the idea of putting in the Bounty system?
That was straight from Twitch. Since Streamline is the first game to use the Twitch launcher, which you get when you download the game from Prime, they said “hey, we really want to get your game out there. So, what if we put it for sale on Twitch and provide a bounty for broadcasters so they can share in the game’s revenue as it’s sold?”
For us, that was really exciting. I think it’s something a lot of game studios have tried to do in various ways, as far as partnering with broadcasters, and it’s an interesting way to sell games. It points to the direction some people are starting to go as far as going to influencers and broadcasters. So, that’s a way for broadcasters to benefit as well. We were totally on board with the idea, and we love the idea of helping broadcasters make more revenue.
Does the “Buy this game” button work with archived, on-demand video of a broadcast?
No, it only appears when the broadcaster is playing it live. That’s the only way to access it, but there is a permanent buy button on the game’s details page within the game directory on Twitch.
Last week, you gave Streamline away for free on Steam. What was the strategy behind that?
The challenge with a multiplayer-only game is that you want to get a lot of players in. So, we decided: “How about we drive some players in?” One of the challenges with a game like this is that you need to see people streaming it to understand how people are playing. While the game is in Early Access, we figured it would be a good time to experiment with some of this. So, we decided to do this and see what would come out of it. It’s been really good. We picked up a huge number of players, which is really exciting, and we’re looking into all their feedback.
We use Twitch as the primary login right now, so we’re starting to understand what it means to use a Twitch identity as the primary login for games and how it works with services like Steam.
Having the game shown at TwitchCon was a huge promotion. Did it help to promote the game on Steam, and how are you approaching the platform?
We reached out to folks on Steam and talked with them. The Steam community is really interesting because they’re so active. Our community page there is definitely a core piece, similar to our channel on Twitch, which is also a core part of our community. A lot of the work we’ve been doing on Steam has been reaching out to groups that do livestreaming and working with them to get copies of the game, try it out, and give us feedback on it while it’s in Early Access.
How are you working with influencers?
We’ve worked with a bunch of broadcasters to give them keys to give away, as well as spending time in their channels and their communities—giving them the game and giving them access to the developers to talk through the game and get their feedback. That’s one of the things we do several times a week.
We have a group of people here who spend a lot of their time watching as new broadcasters and our current community play and getting feedback. We have tons of video on the game itself, so we spend a lot of time seeing what we can learn from it.
In your opinion, what makes a game ideal for livestreaming?
A handful of things, but I think the biggest thing for streamers is giving them more opportunities for shout-outs to viewers. So, we tie things that are happening on the viewer platform to the in-game UI (user interface) so that the broadcasters can see it without needing to look at another window. We have Twitch chat integrated into the game, which can help with that. There’s also creating exciting and funny moments—something to commentate on—by giving them variety and an easy way to create content. Multiplayer helps a lot because it helps broadcasters create little narratives about the people they’re playing with and loop through that.
From the viewer perspective, we went with third-person to make it much easier for people to understand what’s going on. We also spent a good amount of time with how we handle UI elements and general feedback around the game to make it easy for a viewer who jumps in to know what’s going on. That’s one of the biggest challenges, since not all viewers are there at the start of the stream and they don’t stay for the entire time. You need to find ways to quickly onboard them into what’s happening to give them context into what’s going on or they’ll jump ship.
There are a lot of competitive games out right now, including Overwatch, Battlefield 1 and Rocket League. How does Streamline stand out among them?
The Twitch integration helps a lot as far as having a different feel for it and making it a game that can engage audiences in a new way. The other piece is making a game with solid mechanics that we haven’t seen very often. We have freerunning movement, and it’s not a first-person shooter, so it’s a different variety and style of play than you would see in Overwatch.
There are tons of competitive shooters, and what we’re going for is the competitive feel of a sport—more like Rocket League or Splatoon. When you look at those types of games, you’ll find that there are less of them out there, and I think there’s a huge opportunity for them because there are things people watch besides shooters.
What do you think is the potential for Streamline to be adopted as an eSport?
I think it’s very difficult to design for eSports or force a game in that direction. We’ve seen a lot of developers try that, and it’s hard. That really has to come from the community that’s built around a game, how they engage with it, and how they continue to interact with the game. We’re not necessarily going to rule it out, but our focus is on how we can discover what makes this experience interesting.
There’s something special that happens when you’re playing a game with a broadcaster in front of an audience, especially an audience that you may know and have an identity with, that we haven’t seen before. I think we’re just starting to tap into it and there’s a bunch of things you can do there. There could be a competitive aspect that comes out of it that fits into an eSports model, but that’s something that’s harder for us.