Twitch has long used emotes as incentives to contribute to your favorite streamers, but it's now ready to hand them out for free. The livestreaming service is testing Follower Emotes that let broadcasters hand out up to five emotes just for following their channels. You can only use the emotes in the channels where you earned them, unlike subscription emotes, but this lets you show support for a streamer without having to use generic or third-party icons.
Certain Affiliates and Partners will get these follow-specific emotes as part of a beta. The feedback from the test should lead to a wider rollout later in 2021.
There will be an extra motivation to pay, mind you. Twitch is introducing Animated Emotes for Tier 1 subscribers that, as the name implies, add a dash of movement. Creators will have up to five animated icons they can either produce from scratch or quickly build using canned animations like shaking, spinning and "rave." Partners will have access in weeks (including big names like Seum), while Affiliates should see them by the end of 2021. And yes, Twitch is aware they could be dangerous or annoying for some viewers — you'll have the option to turn them off.
Channel owners will have an easier time managing emotes through a new Library that provides control over every approved emote, whether or not it's active. A streamer can retire or revive emotes without having to seek re-approval or otherwise walk through the upload process. This could be particularly helpful for holidays and other times when themed emotes are popular. The Library will be available to all Affiliates and Partners, but access will be phased in over the course of a few months.
Twitch said the emote updates would help mark its 10th anniversary, and that there was "so much more planned" for the milestone. Don't be surprised if you see other sizeable changes, even if Twitch has already announced a few notable examples in advance.