Since becoming the de facto game streaming platform of the modern generation, Twitch is finally ready to design its own video games, starting with a karaoke title built specifically to take advantage of the Twitch platform. The news, announced this morning on the first day of TwitchCon Europe, marks the Amazon-owned live streaming platform’s first-ever foray into game development. The game is called Twitch Sings and is available for free on Windows at sings.twitch.tv.
Twitch started as a lifecasting platform, then shifted to one more oriented to game streaming, but it’s also been a place to find experimental efforts that take advantage of the live nature of the platform, alongside its array of competitive shooters and other e-sports fare. Twitch Plays Pokémon was the most prominent example, in which a programmer set up a live version of the classic role-playing game that could be controlled through crowdsourced inputs pulled from Twitch’s chat system. In the years since, party and puzzle titles from companies like Jackbox Games have incorporated spectator mode features that take into account live streaming and audience participation.
But although one could consider something like Twitch Plays Pokémon to be a unique game the you couldn’t play on any other platform, Twitch has resisted making games of its own that might tap into those types of features. That changes with Twitch Sings.
“Twitch Sings unites the fun and energy of being at a live show with the boundless creativity of streamers to make an amazing shared interactive performance,” reads a statement from Joel Wade, the game’s executive producer. “Many games are made better on Twitch, but we believe there is a huge opportunity for those that are designed with streaming and audience participation at their core.”
The company says Twitch Sings has a “go live” button to immediately begin broadcasting a play session. There are audience features like cheering with emotes, virtual ovations, and the ability to vote to determine the next song in the queue, plus ways for the audience to challenge a player like removing the lyrics to a track or singing in silly voices. You can have customizable avatars or a live camera feed if you prefer, and there are solo and duet options for players to sing with friends, other streamers, or even audience members live. We haven’t gotten a chance to try the game yet ourselves, but here are some images we screencapped of streamers who were playing it last night:
Interestingly, Twitch says it will launch the game with “a library of thousands of popular karaoke classics, with more being added to the catalog every week.” It’s not clear how Twitch is licensing this music, but it may be similar to how karaoke lounges, bars, and other live venues do so, which is usually through licensing organizations like the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and BMI. Twitch was not immediately available for comment on how its gained access to these tracks.
In many cases, Twitch streamers have run into trouble live streaming copyrighted music, leading some popular streamers to even partner with record labels, as Fortnite pro Tyler “Ninja” Blevins did with electronic music label Astralwerks. Twitch has tried to help streamers in this process by releasing free-to-use music libraries and clarifying its rules around copyrighted content. But it’s still a thorny area for streamers. It sounds like with Twitch Sings, however, the company has acquired the appropriate licenses to let you perform copyrighted music yourself.