We haven't heard much from Harmonix in recent times, especially after the company underwent some financial troubles. However, Harmonix is looking to come back in a big way by leveraging the massive audience of millions of viewers on Twitch in order to help turn the streaming platform into an interactive karaoke bar.
The news comes courtesy of the TwitchCon keynote speech [via TechCrunch], which is part of the TwitchCon celebration taking place this weekend. The event has seen more than 1 million people tuning in via Twitch.tv to watch the annual convention to catch a glimpse of the thousands of high-profile streamers that make the broadcasting network as popular as it is. During the keynote speech it was revealed that the company has also introduced a brand new feature in collaboration with Harmonix called Twitch Sings.
The new feature allows broadcasters to utilize a new built-in feature in Twitch to perform karaoke to a live audience. As mentioned in the article, the karaoke feature only sports non-licensed music at the moment, so don't expect to hear anything popular from the radio being sung by your favorite streamer. Given the massive amount of cash flow at Amazon's disposal, though, don't be surprised if the company eventually strikes a deal with its music brand to allow for licensed songs to be played through the livestreaming karaoke feature.
The current setup allows a broadcaster and the viewers to interact with each other and take advantage of the sort of direct relationship that Twitch affords to its users. This means that it's completely possible for users to take part in modifying the lights, or choosing the next song in the playlist, or making other changes to the atmosphere and event.
This feature won't be rolling out to the general public for quite some time, though. According to the article the closed beta isn't scheduled to get underway until the tail end of 2018. However, if you're a broadcaster who would like to participate, you can do so right now by heading on over to the beta sign-up page, where you can register with your name, Twitch handle, and e-mail address. It also asks what kind of platform you'll be streaming from, but only iPhone and Windows PC are supported at the moment. According to the drop-down menu, Android smart devices will also be added to the list at a later date.
The open beta will likely take place at some point in 2019, and that's when we'll see a more finalized version of the feature appear for the general public.
Given that it's based on Harmonix's knowledge of music as a game developer, which has been used in almost every major popular music-based instrument game on home consoles, such as the Rock Band series, the Guitar Hero games, and the Karaoke Revolution franchise that preceded both brands, it's a safe bet that Twitch definitely found the right developer to head up this little project.
Whether or not it will blossom into something huge remains to be seen, but for gamers looking to explore their musical side while livestreaming on Twitch, the opportunity is now there to do so... assuming you sign up to participate in the closed beta test at the end of the year.