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Twitch reveals new feature built for popular Just Chatting streams

(Washington Post illustration; Twitch)

Once viewed as a platform exclusively intended for live streams of video games, Twitch is now all aboard the talk show train. This fall, it will launch Guest Star, the first official feature built specifically with Just Chatting — now the single most popular category on the platform — in mind.

Guest Star, which a small handful of streamers will get to test this summer before a formal launch in the fall, will allow streamers to seamlessly pull guests out of their audiences and give them a full voice and video treatment on their broadcasts. Streamers will be able to plug the feature into programs they already use like Open Broadcaster Software (OBS), and the windows it creates can be integrated with custom overlays and branding.

Streamers currently achieve a similar effect using third-party services like chat app Discord, but Twitch’s goal is to reduce friction and give streamers the ability to vet potential guests by viewing how long somebody’s Twitch account has been around, whether they’ve verified their account with their phone and overall account standing.

“When speaking to creators, a number of them told us that they shy away from making [talk show-like content] because they worried about bringing something or someone onto stream which was inappropriate for their community,” Twitch VP of product Jeremy Forrester told The Washington Post. “This is why we are building features to make it easier to pre-vet guests, or screen them before they are live.”

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In the past, Twitch has launched numerous features that make it easier to watch streamers play games together, but this is the first time Just Chatting has taken center stage. Twitch formally established the category — originally intended for streamers to chill and talk to their viewers — in 2018. But in the years since, it’s grown into a repository for an enormous variety of nongaming activities including regular talk shows, controversial trends and IRL competitions that wouldn’t feel out of place on television (as well as actual television). In recent times Just Chatting has proven nearly unshakable as the top category on the once video game only platform, with Twitch noting that since 2020, hours watched in the category have gone up 151 percent, and revenue for Just Chatting creators has grown 169 percent.

Twitch’s decision to create and launch Guest Star is an acknowledgment of this trend.

“Just Chatting streams are different from video game streams and they are a lot more dependent on engaging and interacting with communities,” said Forrester. “Because of this, we spun up a group last year to specifically look at what features and tools we could build for Just Chatting creators to make interacting with their community and the content they produce easier.”

This, he added, is just the beginning where Just Chatting-specific features are concerned. That said, Twitch does not plan to leave creators who focus on video games — still the platform’s bread and butter in aggregate — out in the cold. Forrester also does not believe the distinction between gaming creators and Just Chatting creators is as meaningful as some make it out to be.

“It’s important to remember that gaming creators are also producing Just Chatting content on a regular basis,” he said. “All the features we’re investigating are centered [on] making it easier for creators to engage, interact and solicit input from their community, and we believe that both gaming and Just Chatting creators will benefit from them.”

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