I recently attended TwitchCon 2022, held on October 7th through October 9th at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, CA. This year’s event was a return—the premier Twitch gathering occurs in San Diego often, alternating between it and other locations. This also happened to be the first time since 2020 that TwitchCon was back in-person. Thankfully, it fell on a weekend in which I wasn’t traveling during Techtober, so I bought my three-day pass and tickets for the TwitchCon official party (featuring artist Megan Thee Stallion as a headliner). Today, I’ll share with you some of my main takeaways from the conference.
What is TwitchCon?
TwitchCon is an annual event that brings together the Twitch community to celebrate creators and gaming in ways that would be impossible elsewhere because so many of these streamers mostly stream from home and specifically leave their home streaming setups to meet their fans. I met many people, from up-and-coming streamers hoping to make the big time to celebrity streamers who rake in cash like nobody’s business and have millions of fans. On the main stage, known as the ‘Rivals Hall,’ the biggest streamers in the world played multiple popular games against each other and participated in other events like tug of war, pong champ, paper airplanes, charades and other physical games with fans. Gaming is really the core focus of Twitch and TwitchCon, and there was no shortage of that but Twitch as a platform has also expanded beyond that. However, there were also a lot of brands in attendance that clearly were there to market themselves to Twitch ‘Partners’ (the company’s select committed streamers). One of the biggest surprises for me was seeing brands like Chevron, State Farm, Capital One, Velveeta, McDonalds, Wendy’s and NYX Professional makeup at the conference, really pushing themselves to the community as brands that understand what Twitch and TwitchCon are all about.
What About PCs?
Most of the world’s leading streamers use two PCs to stream their games—one to play the game and another to run the stream. Pairing this with the fact that Twitch isn’t readily available as an app on consoles (without a capture card connected to a PC), it was no surprise that PCs were the dominant platform at TwitchCon. Most small-time streamers, like myself, just use a single PC to drive everything through Streamlabs, OBS or NVIDIA Shadowplay feeding into one of those two platforms.
It was abundantly clear at TwitchCon that PC is king. Creators, such as Twitch Partners, use PCs to live stream, edit and upload their content. Specifically, the majority of them use desktop PCs to do these tasks—I don’t really recall seeing many, if any, laptops at TwitchCon. The only two consoles I saw were at the ViewSonic booth—a PS5 and a Switch running Smash Bros.
There were all kinds of PC component companies and system builders present at the show. PC Builder PowerGPU was there, as were RGB Custom PC, iBuypower, Starforge and Lenovo Legion. As far as component/accessory companies went, Western Digital, Gigabyte Aorus, Razer, Logitech G and Logitech for Creators, Thrustmaster, Audio-Technica, Shure, Hyte and HyperX were all in attendance.
The HyperX booth was especially interesting. The company showcased its new position as part of the HP family by leveraging HP’s 3D printing capabilities to print custom keycaps for different professional sports league teams. I thought the cross-promotion of the teams’ respective logos with the HyperX brand was a particularly interesting way to showcase its capabilities.
However, the one PC company that really amazed me with its presence at TwitchCon was Intel. Intel was literally everywhere at TwitchCon. If brand awareness was the name of the game at TwitchCon, as far as most attendees were concerned, NVIDIA and AMD were practically nonexistent. That said, many of the systems did still have Intel 13th Gen CPUs paired with NVIDIA GPUs, so there was at least some presence for them there. In addition to the NVIDIA systems, Intel also showcased many Arc-based systems at TwitchCon. Intel also had the Intel Gaming truck featuring Intel NUC PCs with Arc graphics cards that the company had setup outside in the back of the convention center.
Before TwitchCon, Intel also set up an off-site party which promoted the new 13th Gen CPUs and the new Arc GPUs. Many of Intel’s closest system builders were also in attendance, showing off their latest systems. In the leadup to TwitchCon, Intel also had four simultaneous livestreams of different Twitch streamers building PCs—it was quite the operation to observe. I got an opportunity to speak with Intel’s Marcus Kennedy, GM Gaming Division at Intel and got a tour of the whole Intel Creator Challenge and TwitchCon Party. There were easily 100+ PCs at the off-site event alone. Intel and its partners also had all kinds of giveaways and promotions going on. For example, people could have their PCs upgraded with help from the likes of Thermaltake’s Mike Fierheller or ASUS’ Juan Jose Guerrero (also known as JJ). It was very cool to see people getting their PCs upgraded at the Intel pre-TwitchCon event and it was also great to see all the kinds of systems people brought in to get upgraded.
Intel also showcased a concept in which it placed an Intel NUC PC inside a full desktop PC to create a singular, more compact system for smoother streaming. While this was only a concept, Intel said some system builders like Origin PC and CLX may be able to build such systems soon if streamers desire the option. I also saw a few of those systems at the Intel booth on the TwitchCon show floor, where they received an overwhelmingly positive reception. Intel also co-sponsored the Lenovo Legion booth, aptly named the “pit of death” after multiple people got hurt fighting on platforms over a foam pit, which made national news.
Back at TwitchCon’s main floor together with AT&T Fiber, Intel also co-sponsored the PC gaming LAN, providing a high-quality, low-latency gaming experience for the TwitchCon. I was truly impressed with the sheer volume of PCs that I saw at the event, and, amongst those, the sheer percentage that were Intel-based (mostly featuring the 13th Gen processors). On top of all that, Intel also co-sponsored more booth space and Corsair shared that same space with Activision which included a small 6 v 6 multiplayer LAN of the new Call of Duty Modern Warfare II launching this month.
Overall, I believe TwitchCon is an essential experience for anyone involved in the streaming world. While I didn’t attend any of the parties sponsored by some of the bigger streamers on the platform, it was great to meet up with many of my friends from back in my PC gaming days. TwitchCon truly felt like a reunion of the many different PC component vendors and PC builders, the likes of which I would more likely expect to see at a show like CES or Computex. It was refreshing to see a more creator-focused PC experience and hear so many people talk about building and configuring their PCs for gaming and streaming. AMD and Nvidia’s absence from the show was conspicuous and surprising—a missed opportunity for both companies to reach out to the creators they claim to be targeting with their products. I really think that Intel’s attendance and efforts to raise brand awareness in the Twitch community will pay dividends for the chipmaker.