Caffeine is a new 'social broadcasting' platform taking on Twitch with simpler, safer streaming

A pair of former Apple execs are looking to muscle in on Twitch's territory with a new "social broadcasting" platform called Caffeine that they say will dramatically simplify the process of online streaming.   

"Our goal was to re-imagine every aspect of live broadcasting—ignoring the good things we could do and focusing on the really great things instead," Caffeine CEO Ben Keighran, formerly the product design lead for Apple TV, said.

"We are committed to building the best experience for creators, giving them everything they need, from the broadcasting software all the way through to how the audience discovers and enjoys their content. We have put together a world-class engineering and content team that will transform the way the world thinks about live broadcasting."

Caffeine promises gameplay and webcam streaming with real-time, lag-free interactions, but the big hook appears to be the promise of simplicity enabled by its suite of built-in tools and overlays—no external software or overly-technical configurations required—and more interestingly, the commitment to creating a "safe and friendly community," an element that's sometimes in short supply on other platforms.

"Caffeine is a social broadcasting platform, meaning that people, not content, are at the center of the experience. Users find content because of the people they follow in their social circles, and come together to experience that content," the company said. "That means, there are no endless feeds of meaningless comments —personal conversations with friends and creators are given preference, enabling more meaningful social engagements while disposing of toxic chatter."

It's a tough market to break into, dominated as it is by Twitch and YouTube, and Facebook's recent efforts to carve out its own space is only going to make things more crowded. But if Caffeine's developers can figure out how to build it into a viably monetizable streaming platform while avoiding the toxicity that can make watching livestreams such a challenge, it might have a shot. Caffeine will officially launch sometime in the first half of 2018.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.