Twitch is testing 'Multiplayer Ads' and they might actually be a good thing

Twitch multiplayer ads
(Image credit: Twitch)

Everyone loves advertisements, and now Twitch is experimenting with a new format that will let its viewers share their appreciation of the ad content they see during online streams. It's called Multiplayer Ads, and it's now in closed beta testing across a limited number of channels.

Unlike conventional ads that play individually for each viewer, multiplayer ads are shown to most viewers in the channel at the same time. (Some will be excepted, based on factors like language and location.) After they're finished, channel owners can run a poll based on the content on the ad, which will unlock Bits depending on how many viewers answer. 

"We want our creators and fans to have the opportunity to experience everything together, and support their favorite creators along the way," Twitch said.

During the closed beta, streamers will have to trigger multiplayer ads manually, and the creator FAQ says there will be a "limited supply" of ads per channel, "as we experiment and learn about what works best." Importantly, multiplayer ads, like conventional ads, will not be shown to channel subscribers.

Ads are an important source of revenue for Twitch and its streamers, and also a major point of contention. As The Verge reported earlier this month, users of the uBlock Origin ad blocker have been targeted with PSAs explaining why advertising is necessary (after Twitch rolled out an update that enabled it to bypass the ad blocker, naturally). I'm not a fan of ad blockers myself, but I can understand why some people opt to use them: Twitch doesn't have "breaks" for mid-roll ads, and a loud advertisement blasting off completely unexpectedly during a stream is incredibly jarring.

On the other hand, having to trigger the ads manually means that streamers can ensure viewers are ready for them, and audiences might be more receptive to them (or at least willing to tolerate their existence) as a way to tangibly support streamers without having to actually fork over any money. Nobody likes ads—that "everyone loves advertisements" bit was ironic, in case it somehow wasn't clear—but if we have to live with them, this might be one way to make the experience a little more bearable.

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.