Twitch announced today that it will be releasing major updates to its emotes this month to celebrate their 10th anniversary. These new features will include animated emotes, follower emotes, and a library for emotes.
Since the origins of the livestreaming platform for gamers, emotes — Twitch’s version of emojis — have been a major component of twitch culture. They are subtle memes, and images like Kappa, Tryhard and Pogchamp have come to carry meaning in more and more gaming worlds, even from the Twitch platform.
“Emotions are a language that transcends countries,” said Evan Santana, senior director of community product at Twitch. “Wherever you are in the world, they mean the same thing to us.”
The Amazon-owned platform regularly adds new global emotes, which can be used on any streamer’s channel. Individual creators can create custom emotes for their communities, which can be used by paying subscribers across the platform. But the ability to add animated gifs as emotes is something the community has been asking for as Santana can remember.
“I’ve been at Twitch for four years, and it’s something people have been asking since before I joined,” Santana told ClearTips. “It’s definitely been a very, very long time.”
Streamers who lack animation skills need not worry. While the more tech-savvy among us can upload custom GIFs, Twitch will offer streamers six templates to choose from, which can animate their current emotions. These animations include shake, rev, roll, spin, slide in and slide out. Viewers sensitive to animation will be able to turn this feature off in their chat settings.
Twitch is also beta testing follower emotes, which will be available to select partners and affiliates. This feature provides a fun, free incentive for viewers to hit the Follow button on the channel they may be watching for the first time. When viewers follow a channel, they will be notified by the producer when it is streaming, which may eventually lead to subscriptions. Twitch takes 50% of the streamers’ subscription amount, creating a valuable revenue stream for the company.
In the first quarter of 2021, Twitch viewership reached an all-time high, up 16.5% from the previous quarter. Twitch viewers watched 6.34 billion hours of content in Q1, accounting for 72.3% of the market share. This is double the total hours watched on Twitch in the first quarter of 2020. Facebook Gaming and YouTube Gaming accounted for 12.1% and 15.6% of viewership in the region, respectively.
“For a long time, producers have been asking for better ways to attract and welcome new viewers to their channels,” Santana said. “The idea is generally to create a lot of excitement around that community, and ultimately more feelings of community.”
Creators with beta access will be able to upload up to five emotes for their followers, but unlike subscriber emotes, followers will not be able to use them on other channels. There’s no guarantee that follower emotes will be here to stay — Santana says it’s a feature Twitch is “experimenting” with — but if all goes well, the feature could be rolling out later in the year. will be rolled out more widely.
Finally, the library function will make it easy for creators to swap emotes in and out of the subscription tier without having to delete and re-upload them every time. it makes An upgrade that launched in January, which centralizes channel-specific icons in an emotes tab on the Creator Dashboard. As always, new emotes must be approved by Twitch before they can be used. The library will soon roll out to all partners and affiliates, staggered over a few months thanks to the expected increase in the amount of new emotes.
“As Twitch has grown, we now have millions of communities around the world in many different cultures,” Santana said. “We can delegate more control of our emote language to our community, and let them grow in a way we never imagined ultimately serves them in their unique ways.”
Twitch teased that there is more to celebrate the platform’s 10th anniversary, including an official 10-year celebration.