Livestreaming site Twitch now lets up to four folks form a ‘squad’ to stream together in one window, so viewers can see the perspectives of all their imaginary cyberpals at once rather than having to pick just one. Squad Stream, Twitch call it. Perhaps these four folks are playing Apex Legends together and you want to see what everyone’s doing, or speedrunners are racing each other in a singleplayer game, or… whatever it is, you can now watch ’em all at once. That’s handy.
Squad Stream lets up to four folks band together and have their streams all appear on the same page. One stream fills most the screen while the others sit beneath, and we can bump any up to the main stream just by clicking on it. Secondary streams are muted by default, though you can turn them all on if you hate your ears. Streamers don’t need to be playing the same game to form a Squad, to be clear, so you could e.g. watch a group of pals shooting the breeze while all playing their own games.
My favourite Twitch streamers do often play with pals, or hang out and chat while they play their own thing, so I welcome being able to easily see what they are each up to.
See Twitch’s Squad Stream tag for… very few people actually Squad Streaming at this time of day. But to promote the launch, Twitch have arranged a series of four-person streams from popular folks; see the schedule over here.
The official implementation of Squad Stream follows years of streamers and viewers creating similar effects themselves. MultiTwitch and Multistream are simple browser-based doodads that let us pick a load of streams to display in one window at once. Some streamers have gotten their hands dirty compositing multiple feeds into their own to broadcast as one.
Nice as it is, Squad Stream won’t entirely replace these. MultiTwitch and such let viewers pick which streams to see together, while Squad Stream is locked to the squad. And compositing is used to very fancy effect in streams like Smight’s Arcade Pit, where players’ perspectives are put into a full-on game show package. But hey, I wouldn’t expect it to fulfil all these roles and replace all these tools. That’s not what it’s trying to do, nor what it should. Squad Stream is a simple and elegant way to watch pals together, and that’s just fine.
Squad Stream is initially only available to Twitch Partners, the elite of their vetted and vaunted streamers. Twitch do plan to eventually open it up to all streamers but first they need to bulk up on technomuscle to handle resizing and rebroadcasting all those videos on the fly.
“We want to ensure the best Squad Stream experience for everyone,” Twitch explained. “To do that, Squad Stream relies on video quality options to display the channels in non-primary slots in lower quality modes like 480p. Most streamers stream in 720p or above, so without video quality options, the squad viewing experience can be taxing since it would display up to four 720p+ streams at once.”
Yeah yeah, but what about Skwod Stream?