Caffeine aims to energize gamers by making video broadcasting easier and more social than Twitch
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What do you get when you take former Apple design executives and USD $46 million of venture capital funding? Perhaps the most serious threat Twitch has seen in a long time. Caffeine, which was officially announced today, is a new social broadcasting platform aimed squarely at gamers looking for an easier and more social method of streaming gameplay. The site looks to be more than a mere Twitch clone, however.
Caffeine is the result of years of work from Ben Keighran, former Design Lead for the Apple TV, and Sam Roberts, a former Senior User Experience Designer from Apple. Keighran and Roberts are hoping that their design and UI expertise will make Caffeine stand apart and appeal to a wider audience of gaming.
The site's feature set reflects this ideology, opting for ease of use over more detailed and robust customization tools. In order to start streaming, a user only needs to download Caffeine's custom-built broadcasting tool which weighs in at about 10 MB. Once loaded up, the software detects when a game (or other program) launches and (if the program is compatible) uses the associated DLL file in the Windows library to overlay viewer comments and chat onto the program. Users can also stream a simple vlog without gameplay via a web browser or supported iOS device.
This might be an improvement over Twitch, which typically requires a dual-monitor setup; users usually have to run their games full-screen on one monitor and load the Twitch app (with chat, streaming tools, etc.) on the other. Caffeine also offers broadcasting based on WebRTC for instantaneous (or near enough) communication. Essentially, the WebRTC piece of the broadcasting software should eliminate lag and de-synchronization in a users' video broadcast.
Caffeine offers some unique social aspects, as well. The UI is designed with a more "Facebook-esque" aesthetic that's more akin to social media than user broadcasting and streaming services. Caffeine users can follow broadcasters, but instead of navigating to a specific broadcaster's channel at an appointed time to catch a stream, the Caffeine homepage lists current live videos from broadcasters the user follows (as well as some suggested videos and channels).
In addition to a traditional chat, Caffeine also uses a comment system where comments from a broadcaster's followers and comments that are upvoted by the community are bumped to the top, making it easier for a broadcaster to respond to dedicated viewers and relevant comments (as decided by the viewers). One of Caffeine's main goals is to provide an easier, safer community for people to broadcast and share their passions with others of a like mind.