Twitch Communities are dead; long live Twitch Tags.
Well, maybe not.
Twitch rolled out its new organizational discover tool this week, replacing the original Communities feature. Twitch streamers can now assign specific tags to their broadcasts, and Twitch believes that will make finding new streamers easier.
“Filtering by Tags can help you narrow in on a specific genre of game, but, for example, you can also be as specific as ‘Hero: Ana’ or ‘Competitive’ if you want to narrow down your options when browsing Overwatch streams,” a Twitch blog post reads.
Rolling out tags hasn’t gone as smoothly as the team may have hoped, though. Streamers and users have pointed out there are a number of tags missing for important content types, most notably Variety streaming, which is quickly becoming one of the most popular broadcast forms on the platform. Other important game categories, like independent and horror, are also notably absent.
“I’d also love to just see more tags that elevate marginalized variety streamers and give us room to breathe and be discovered instead of constantly being buried,” streamer Cherry Rae tweeted. “An ‘Indie Games’ or ‘Variety’ would be great.”
“Almost none of the tags speaks to the vibe, tone or style,” another person commented on Reddit. “Examples such as, Chill, Commentary, New Players Welcome, Music Types, Calm, Funny, Loud, Focused, Interactive, Chatty, Intense, etc. These kinds of descriptors are like non-existent. Definitely intentionally excluded, but the communities attempted to handle this. So now it seems like a small void has been left.”
Twitch is a platform that allows communities to flourish around personalities they enjoy watching. Tags are an organizational discovery tool, but streamers and Twitch viewers are mourning the loss of strong communities that brought people together. For example, although there is an LGBTQ+ tag for streamers and viewers looking to support queer creators, there are few tags for other marginalized groups. Steven Spohn, the chief operating officer of AbleGamers, also pointed out there are few specialized tags for disabled gamers, and has asked Twitch to implement them.
“Your new tag system is great but we need tags for gamers who play with disabilities.Please consider tags adding ‘Disabled Gamers,’ ‘People with Disabilities,’ ‘Assistive Technology’ [and] ‘Accessibility / Accessibility Options,’” Spohn tweeted.
A lack of tags available to help promote streams, alongside the loss of communities, is the Twitch community’s main concern. It’s something that Twitch’s team is aware of, and currently working on.
Tom Robertson, who works on viewer product at Twitch, acknowledged in the blog post that Twitch is working to fulfill every community’s needs with tags. Robertson recognized that “streamers were using our Communities feature to find others who shared their identity and interests, and we are working with those communities to build solutions for them.”
“Our plan is to continue to adapt these tools to ensure that tags and categories work for everyone on Twitch,” Robertson wrote.
Twitch is asking users to drop their suggestions for tags into a request form. It’s unclear when new tags will roll out, or whether they’ll be regularly added. An open Dropbox sheet has a list of current tags that users and apply to their streams or browse by.
Polygon has reached out to Twitch for comment.