Twitch Integration in Eve: Is Eve Online Streamable?

It's 8 in the evening in the United States, and the night is young for streamers and viewers alike on Twitch. League of Legends professionals showcase their skills in solo queue, Hearthstone players display their latest experimental deck build in an arena match, and personalities like Destiny and Kripparian are busy streaming to their fans. Thousands of gamers are streaming their gameplay and commentary to millions of potential viewers, all in the hopes that some might find their content entertaining.

Yet on the highway of games that regularly see traffic, such as World of Warcraft, Dota 2, and Minecraft, Eve Online is but a cul-de-sac in a subdivision. After monitoring Eve's directory for a few hours, I never noticed more than a handful of streamers broadcasting to a few hundred viewers, with Mad_Ani's 24/7 stream of staging systems holding the majority of viewers. The occasional solo roamer would stream for an hour or two alongside the highsec miner and mission runner, then vanish like dust in the wind. In fact, the most common streamer is the stereotypical new player - most of which stop streaming when they realize that nobody is watching them.

Of course, given the malicious nature of Eve Online's community, it's no wonder Eve's representation on Twitch is low. The risk of being hunted because of the information your stream freely gives is simply too great to outweigh the possibility of entertaining a dozen people. Even by covering the majority of your screen, simply right-clicking in space can reveal your location and put you at serious risk, regardless of what you're flying or doing. The wormhole corporation I'm a part of, Jester's Hole, regularly suicide ganks streamers for our own personal, albeit morbid, entertainment; it's not about improving our killboard's ISK efficiency or showing off how terrible we are at PVP, it's about seeing the streamer's reaction as his ship explodes in a ball of fire.

Most viewers regularly watch a streamer for two reasons: 1) the streamer is entertaining to his or her viewers, and 2) the streamer is exceptionally good at the video game that he or she is playing. In Eve, it's difficult to define how "good" a player is because of its sandbox nature, so most Eve streamers must rely on their ability to entertain. The simple fact of the matter is that the majority of Eve's gameplay is characterized by hours, days, or weeks of buildup for a few minutes of intense PVP action; it's an extremely boring game to watch somebody else play. Like a good actor in a terrible movie, even the most entertaining streamer won't attract viewers if the game they're playing isn't entertaining to watch.

So, why would the average Eve player want to stream? Where's the motivation?

In my opinion, there isn't. The upcoming Twitch integration will be wildly popular for a week or two, and then be completely forgotten after the influx of new streamers realize what a bad idea it is. The integration doesn't allow the streamer to block sensitive information, and streamers can't delay their stream unless they're a partner with Twitch. Without the proper tools to protect themselves, potential streamers simply won't stream. The only conceivably useful purpose the integration could serve is streaming as a scout for a nullsec alliance or teaching your friends how to scan with probes, although neither of these streams can be privately viewed because Twitch removed their Access Code feature.

As much as I would like to see Eve become a streamable video game, its very nature makes it a formidable task. For now, it seems that the best way to make a name for yourself in New Eden like The Mittani and Ripard Teg isn't through streaming, but through newsreels, tutorial videos, or starting wars.

Or by writing a terrible blog.

You can read CCP's devblog on the Twitch integration here.

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