We gamers are an indignant bunch, we like our game endings how we imagined them, our pre-ordered titles to be released on time and when new changes to something are going to completely transform how we use it - or restrict them in some way - then we certainly like being warned about it beforehand.
That wasn’t the case earlier this week though, when game streaming service Twitch announced that not only could archived videos be muted in order to protect copyright, but we would now face new limits on how long we could archive our streams for, leading to mass frustration amongst Twitch’s users.
The rumblings of Twitch being bought by Google for the hefty sum of $1 billion did suggest that changes would be on the way, but few people expected this. Thankfully, after gamers expressed annoyance and many even threatened to jump ship to Twitch’s competitors, Twitch CEO Emmett Shear has conducted a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) to soothe concerns.
Shear began the AMA by answering two frequently asked questions: what is Twitch’s plan for audio recognition in the future and what are they going to do when Audible Magic (the software behind the audio muting) gets it wrong?
1) Live streaming on Twitch: We have no intention whatsoever of bringing audio-recognition to live streams on Twitch. This is a VOD-only change for Twitch.
2) In-game music: We have zero intention of flagging original in-game music. We do intend to flag copyrighted in-game music that's in Audible Magic's database. (This was unclear in the blog post, my apologies). In the cases where in-game music is being flagged incorrectly, we are working on a resolution and should have one soon. False positive flags will be unmuted.”
While some may still be wary about the possibility of muted livestreams, Audible Magic’s flagging of in-game music is a more pressing concern. That’s because although AM might avoid muting “original in-game music”, VODs for games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band could very well be silenced because the music that these games uses is licensed and not original.
Furthermore, a resolution might be hard to come by because there's no easy way for Audible Magic to differ in-game licensed music from a radio playing in the background. And although Shear and the team urge people to email firstname.lastname@example.org if they feel that a VOD has been flagged in error, what happens when complaints come flooding in and they’re unable to restore the audio in a timely manner?
Shear added that:
“Audio-recognition currently impacts approximately 2% of video views on Twitch (~10% of views are on VODs and ~20% of VODs are impacted at all)”
That’s hopeful, as it means that they aren’t just blindly swinging the mute hammer. However, Shear admits that this is all information that Twitch should have explained in the first place and that they “could have gotten community feedback” prior to the update announcements.
The muting and archiving aren’t the only changes that are going to be made to Twitch though, as Shear also explained that more would be done to help smaller streamers get noticed and that changes would be made to long highlights being used for speedruns of games too. So even if the rumours of Twitch being bought by Google do prove to be correct, at least some changes to Twitch that are on the way will undoubtedly be for the better.
Source: Emmett Shear