Twitch Launches Its First Game

Popular streaming platform Twitch is branching out into game development with the launch of its first-ever title, Twitch Sings, on Saturday. 

The new game is a free download that gives players access to nearly 2,000 popular karaoke songs that they can perform live in front of their streaming audience.

The game was developed specifically for live-streaming over a two-year period. Streamers can sign in with their Twitch IDs and "go live" on the Twitch platform with a few clicks or on other broadcasting platforms of their choice.

"We wanted to make sure that all the mod tools were present and everything that someone would expect from their channel customizations are honored with the game, including monetization," Joel Wade, executive producer of Twitch Sings, tells The Hollywood Reporter. "At the moment it's free for the client, but we will be adding additional options that you can purchase. The core game will always be free, but there will be add-ons that you'll be able to purchase as we go on."

Wade says there are currently no plans for ads to run on Twitch Sings, though there will still be ads for those watching streams through the Twitch platform.

Just as in other live streams on Twitch, viewers can interact with the streamer through chat, but Twitch Sings also allows spectators to request songs; applaud singers with showy on-screen ovations; send singing challenges such as belting out songs in ear-splitting falsetto; and duet or collaborate with other singers across their channels. Spectators can also interrupt singers with such distractions as sending emotes of their own face soaring across the screen or morphing the dimensions on a singer's face.

"We want to capture that vibe of being in a karaoke bar and singing with people and getting that energy from the crowd," Wade says. 

For singers who are a bit camera-shy, Twitch Sings has a built-in, customizable avatar system that players can create and use as their in-game pop star proxies. "We have a complete range of skin tones, body types, you can wear whatever you want. We're trying to be as inclusive as possible," says Wade. Users' avatars will also appear in the audience of other streamer's live performances when they do actions such as subscribing or donating to the streamer. "It's another way to get that fun community vibe of live music performance."

The game will launch with close to 2,000 total songs to choose from (from Queen to Britney Spears to Barry White), but Wade promises his team will keep adding more tunes in the future. 

Twitch's move from a solely streaming platform to game development comes at a time when multiple other tech companies have announced expansions into the gaming space. In March, both Google and Apple detailed plans for their planned gaming services, while earlier this month Snap Inc. debuted Snap Games, which allows users to access real-time, multiplayer games through the Snapchat app.

"Twitch's core is not really about making games," Wade says. "This is a unique experiment for us. We're really hopeful that it's going to do well, but we're certainly not trying to compete with other game makers."

As for future games developed by Twitch, Wade says the company has no further plans at the moment. "What we really wanted to experiment here was something that's both a game and a tool for streamers to create content," he says. "We've tried to show people that there is a new kind of game where the audience is incredibly involved and can change the way the game is experienced."