Twitch launched their new Cheers service yesterday to a select group of partners to beta test it. Effectively, you'll be able to 'celebrate' in chat using a virtual currency named Bits, which in turn tips the streamer based around how many Bits you use. It's an interesting idea but is it all it seems on the surface?
Firstly, it should be noted that this DOES NOT replace the traditional tipping services (TwitchAlerts, G4G, Streamtip etc) in any way whatsoever unless the streamer choose to. You're not barred from supporting your streamers in exactly the same way as you used to. It's just another method of doing so that's more showy in chat. You can read about what Cheers do here as this isn't what we're really here to talk about: https://blog.twitch.tv/introducing-cheering-celebrate-together-da62af41fac6#.86fkldrvg (Note: The cut that Twitch/Amazon take from this service is still speculative, but appears to be around 50/50 ultimately due to $1.40 giving you 100 Bits, likely working out to 1 Bit = 1c and a rumoured 30% cut from Twitch's end when using them).
The truth of this announcement is this - Twitch did not launch Cheering yesterday, Twitch launched a currency with an incredibly wide scope. Bits are the true message to take away from yesterday and they fit neatly in with Twitch's new 'developer success' focus that they have from launching a new office down in Austin to support. You can read a little more about it here: https://blog.twitch.tv/announcing-twitch-developer-success-814bd5a23dee#.6hkxhv5f9
Bits are Twitch's currency to be able to do anything with. Once they are past beta testing the payment system and the chat connectivity, the possibilities are almost endless. More emote slots via Bits, exclusive emotes via Bits, cosmetics for your username via Bits, an alternate payment process for Turbo & Subs. These will all be interesting additions but the ultimate goal is game interactivity.
For those that aren't familiar, tinyBuild have had great success with Twitch. They've recently launched titles with great Twitch interactivity such as Punch Club and One Troll Army that allowed chat to take the reins and make all the choices within the game. One Troll Army did this especially well by allowing chat to choose roles within the game, cosmetics for their characters and even allowing for limited amount 'Boss' characters to be spawned.
This is what Bits are made for. Previously, these interactions were free and the game connectivity was effectively an experiment (albeit a great PR move ultimately). In the future, Bits will be how you get involved in the game. Purchase your cosmetic for 10 Bits, raffle with Bits to become the Boss, change class for 25 Bits etc. A new type of group gaming experience is on the horizon.
The API for Bits is already available for tinkering and developing and will no doubt be built upon in the future. Developers can start developing and including functionality around it immediately. If tinyBuild don't bring out a game that directly links into Bits within the next 3 months, I will cease spouting my opinions on the internet.
This is an interesting and neat next step from Twitch as a platform. They're moving in a new and unique direction with this. Whether you're for or against Cheers or Bits overall, please remember these are ENTIRELY optional. In the same way as donating is optional currently, this will be optional in the same way as micro-transactions in mobile games are. If you don't like it, you aren't forced to abide by it.