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Twitch hires a 'vice president of game developer success'

Twitch hires a 'vice president of game developer success'

November 16, 2015 | By Christian Nutt

Twitch has recruited a "vice president of game developer success," Kathy Astromoff, to act as a liaison with the development community, and today's her first day on the job. 

This unusual job title marks Astromoff as the community's woman on the inside, so to speak -- making sure that Twitch's future is one that caters to their needs while supporting its streamers and the site's wider viewing audience.

Gamasutra conducted an email interview with Astromoff to find out exactly what this new role entails and what developers can expect from her -- and from Twitch -- moving forward.

Note: In addition to stints at Sega, Ageia, and other industry companies -- and chairing the board of the IGDA -- Astromoff is a former executive of UBM Technology Group, the parent company of Gamasutra.

"My mandate is to help game developers succeed, using all the strengths that Twitch brings to the table. It's intentionally broad, because we've only just begun identifying ways we can help game developers achieve what they want with their games," Astromoff says. "Leadership have long recognized the critical role game developers have in the ecosystem. It'd be accurate to interpret my hire as walking that talk."

She notes that developers have already given "a ton of feedback" to the company -- and her job will be to continue from there, reviewing both old and new feedback to "creatively infer the unmet need" of game developers -- and identify "solutions to thorny game developer problems" that Twitch can provide.

Says Astromoff, "the entire company is behind this initiative, so nothing is out of bounds as long as the solution also serves the thriving Twitch broadcaster community, which is always our #1 priority."

While it's "too early to say" if this will result in new developer-centric site features or services, Astromoff has said that an example of an issue Twitch will be "exploring" is the expansion of the Twitch API; another is making it more possible for developers to directly generate revenue from their games via the site. Vlambeer's inventive use of the API to sell Nuclear Throne is an early example of what can already be done. 

"It's pretty easy to imagine what game developers could achieve with a highly engaged gamer community... At its most basic, earning recurring revenue involves getting gamers to find your game, buy it, and purchasing items in and around it. We've already seen examples of developers using Twitch for all three, and we're only just beginning to experiment," she says.

Of course, there's also the post-Twitch Plays Pokémon frontier of integrating Twitch directly into games -- titles as diverse as Disgaea 5 and Choice Chamber have already tapped into that power, and Astromoff would like to see developers better able to use the platform for gameplay: "I'm imagining a plethora of games built in and around the concept of many users controlling a single avatar or functionality set. I was just at a game design conference where folks were working on this."

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