Twitch Drops expansion rewards viewers when streamers play well

The new system benefits developers, streamers and viewers.

Elijah Nouvelage / reuters

Thanks to streaming services, watching people play video games can often be as fun as taking part. Game studios have paid close attention, often enlisting big name streamers to generate buzz for their upcoming titles via reward systems like Twitch’s Drops platform. Riot Games set Twitch records when it allowed viewers to grab a beta key for its new 5v5 shooter, Valorant, simply by asking that they tune into an activated channel.

As part of a major revision of the Drops system, developers are now being given more control over how these rewards are handed out, meaning streamers may have to complete certain in-game events — like slaying a boss or finding an item — to pass on gifts to their followers.

The new Drops system lets game makers embed unlocks that are linked to Twitch’s Enhanced Experiences API. This could mean that rewards are activated when a streamer completes a level, or is the last person standing in a round of Fall Guys — developers have freedom to hide activations in any part of their game. Other events can be time-based, requiring viewers to tune into a channel for a set amount of time to access their reward.

Twitch says it has redesigned the Drops platform to let viewers know how close they are to achieving time-based goals, removing some of the randomness from the existing system. Some developers may choose to use Twitch’s new tiered campaigns, which require users to unlock smaller rewards before getting a bigger one.

For developers, the new Drops system incentivizes them to include more Twitch-specific unlocks in their titles. For viewers, it could mean more waiting for a specific prize, but it may also encourage people to push their favorite streamers to complete more complex and daring challenges in the games they play.