What is Stream Sniping?
Stream Sniping is an exploitative tactic used against streamers, teams, and players. It is the act of using a stream’s broadcasted gameplay to gain significant advantage against the opposing team. The amount of information that can be gained from watching a player’s stream is significantly vast. Map information, vision control, strategies, team positioning, and a whole lot more.
To put stream sniping in a non-video game scenario, imagine playing in a poker game and one player has the ability to see things from another player’s perspective, which lets them see what the other player’s hand is. That is what its like to be in a match with a stream sniper. It creates such an absurd advantage against other players.
Don’t get me wrong, not all games offer the same amount of advantages for stream snipers. Some games don’t provide any advantages to them at all, such as fighting games like Tekken or Street Fighter, but other game genres like RTS (StarCraft), MOBAs (DOTA2), Card Games (Hearthstone), and FPS (CS:GO), are really hard to play against stream snipers.
This is because the nature of these games revolve around strategies which require players to outsmart their opponents, and the amount of information that a player’s stream provides the stream sniper is such a big advantage that greatly impacts the game.
Imagine trying to sneak Roshan (DOTA2) or Baron Nashor (LoL) against a stream sniper, it literally becomes impossible because the stream sniper can see your team taking the objective. In RTS games like StarCraft, there are tactics that require the element of surprise for it to work, such as the Zerg Rush, wherein a player tries to overwhelm the opposing player early in the match with a large number of weak units before the player is even ready for battle, it is quite easy to counter for an experienced player and would be useless against a stream sniper .
In Battle Royales (Fortnite) and FPS shooters (CS:GO), team positioning and equipment is vital to the strategy of the team. A stream sniper will be able to see if the player’s team rushes B or if they are underequipped, or if they are going for a bridge flank.
Stream sniping ruins the gameplay of the teams and players, and destroys the integrity of the game, ruining the match not just for the teams, but for the audience as well. Watching a player lose, tilt and rage because of a stream sniper might be entertaining for some, but not for all. Streaming platforms and tournament organizers are taking measures to address the issue of streamers being sniped and have started to punish stream snipers for their unsportsmanlike behaviour. Twitch, in particular, has put stream sniping against their Terms of Service, and has rolled out numerous bans to those who get caught in the act.
Stream sniping has been around since the early days of esports, a team playing in the Dota 2 Canada Cup was caught stream sniping during the competition, and after an investigation by the organizers, they were suspended for 6 months. Luckily, the tournament had policies in place for those instances, so they were able to hand out a punishment. The team that lost via stream sniping went on to win the tournament, it can be argued that they only lost to that specific team because of stream sniping.
And more recently, Twitch held a Fall Guys tournament, and a famous Twitch streamer, and formerly Overwatch pro player, was suspended for stream sniping. He claims that he was only doing it for the content and the audience’s entertainment. A fortnite player was banned after broadcasting that he stream sniped a Twitch streamer. Some games have started to put measures in place to prevent streamers from getting sniped. While Stream Sniping is not considered illegal in some games, it is widely frowned upon by the gaming community.
How to Avoid Getting Stream Sniped
In Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War, there’s an option to hide matchmaking timing, when a streamer queues up for a game, the matchmaking timer will start, but the game will only look for a match after a random number of seconds later, which makes it hard for potential stream snipers to queue up and get into the game with the streamer. When a stream sniper actually ends up in the same match as a streamer, Black Ops Cold War lets streamers turn the names of the people in the game into a randomly generated name.
Some games do not have these options however, and streamers are exposed to potential stream snipers. There are a few methods for streamers to mitigate the effects of stream sniping such as custom map covers for DOTA 2 and LoL which deny the sniper to see which parts of the map have wards and limited vision. But this does not fully solve the problem because the stream sniper still has vision of the player’s gameplay, so ganks are ineffective, telegraphed, and nearly impossible.
In some streaming platforms, there is an option to delay the stream by a few seconds, which in turn lowers the advantage a stream sniper would have over the streamer. This, however, comes with the cost of taking away from the stream’s overall connectivity with the audience. The point of streaming is to entertain, educate, and have fun with the audience, and being able to interact real time with the viewers is one of the biggest assets of streaming.
Stream Sniping is a scourge for players, teams, content creators, and the gaming community as a whole. It is our responsibility as gamers to be respectful and to be fair to our fellow gamers. The benefits of stream sniping is simply not worth the effects and consequences in the community.
Stream sniping ruins the game not just for the player who is streaming, but for all players in both teams in the game. Don’t ruin everyone’s game because of stream sniping. Don’t be THAT person.
Knowledge is power. Read some more of our articles, written by one of BEAT’s co-founders!