Amazon-owned streaming giant Twitch today announced the launch of a chat room feature that will exist outside the standard Twitch chat that lives on the righthand side of live streams. The company is calling the new product Rooms, and these chats will be both public and private chats streamers can set up for viewers and subscribers to interact with a streamer and each other around dedicated topics or themes. For instance, a streamer could set up a chat room specifically for subscribers only and leave it open 24 hours a day, even when that streamer is not live, so discussions can take place at around the clock and even when the channel is inactive.
Twitch first announced the feature back at its annual developer and fan conference, TwitchCon, in October of last year. Starting today, Rooms will be available for all users worldwide on the web and on mobile, with the feature coming to Twitch’s desktop client some time in the near future, the company says. “Whether you want a room for spoilers, permanent sub-only chat, or even a room for moderators to sharpen their swords, rooms lets streamers set a topic and choose who has access,” writes Brian Petrocelli, a member of Twitch’s product marketing team, in a blog post. “Plus it’s just like stream chat, all your badges and emotes carry over.”
The parallels to popular gaming-focused chat service Discord — and to a lesser extent the workplace chat and collaboration app Slack — are clear. Many of the web discussions taking place outside public-facing forums like Facebook, Tumblr, and Reddit are happening on places like Slack and Discord. Those services are by default private spaces organized by moderators in a fashion inspired by old-school internet relay chat. Twitch’s twist is to make its own chat rooms more customizable based on the needs of streamers and the requests of their fan bases.
It also benefits Twitch to capitalize on these viewership communities by keeping their discussions and overall fan activity on its own platform. The only way to do that is to build a similar product itself. The company says Rooms came about from community feedback regarding requested new features, and that the product “will be iterated on throughout the year.” Notably, Twitch says its community guidelines, which include recently revised policies around harassment and sexual behavior released earlier this month, apply to Rooms, as those policies are service-wide and applicable at every level, the company says.