Twitch is the undisputed king of the video game streaming world. Some of the biggest names in big tech—Microsoft, Google, Facebook—have come for its crown. None have succeeded, and, despite their best efforts, there’s no reason to think any of them will dethrone Twitch any time soon.
Twitch, which is owned by Amazon, broadcasts streams of people playing video games. Anyone can log on and watch endless hours of internet influencers playing titles like Fortnite, League of Legends, and Minecraft. Twitch sells ads, which display around the site and occasionally interrupt streams, and subscriptions, which viewers can buy to gain access to special features in their favorite channels. No part of Twitch’s design is so unique that a rival couldn’t copy it, and indeed, many already have.
But the real secret to its success is the community it fosters. Next to every Twitch stream there’s a chat box, and on popular streams viewers flood the feed with a constant barrage of commentary. The chatter is so essential to the experience of watching a stream that Twitch is effectively a social media platform, built on the connections that viewers form with streamers and each other in its chaotic comment sections. Those relationships have kept viewers on Twitch, even when rival platforms poach its most popular streamers.