What Is “Stream Sniping” Exactly?

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If you’ve watched large Twitch channels play games for an extensive period of time, you’ve likely heard of the term “stream sniping” in these circles. And depending on who you ask, you might hear opinions on it ranging from apathetic to downright hostile

To really have an opinion on stream sniping, it’s important to understand what it is and why it’s so contentious. We’ve got the explanation right here for you.

What Is Stream Sniping?

Stream sniping is when someone watches a Twitch stream of a game that they are also playing in at the same time, and using the streamer’s video to get a read on their location, what tactics they are using, and what they tend to do to get an upper hand on the streamer. 

An example of this would be if you were playing a game of Call of Duty Modern Warfare and you noticed someone in the match was a streamer. If you open up their stream, you can know their exact location and movements (and if they communicate with their team, what they are going to do) and use this to effectively gain the upper hand.

It can apply to all sorts of multiplayer games from shooters to strategy to open world. It leads to a lot of streamers losing more often than they might otherwise and this can lead to some heated moments on stream.

What’s Wrong With Stream Sniping?

The biggest problem with stream sniping is that it is, essentially, cheating. The streamer is just broadcasting their experience playing the game and using that to gain the upper hand is an exclusive advantage to the other player/an average viewer. Since the streamer doesn’t receive the same benefit, the competitive balance is heavily tilted to one side (it’s essentially “screen cheating” in the new era of multiplayer gaming.)

Opinions on stream sniping are mixed depending on who you ask; some streamers won’t mind it because they either might not take the game seriously enough to warrant it, or they’ll feel the advantage isn’t that big. Other streamers believe it is cheating that cheapens the experience for the streamer and the other viewers of the stream who just want a (relatively) honest experience. Some people might consider the fact that opting to stream is putting yourself out there to have it happen, and that stream sniping shouldn’t be as egregious as it’s made out to be.

Some streamers can even find it an endearing, wholesome act; it’s not uncommon for fans of a streamer to stream snipe them in a game, only to give them valuable in-game items or do something funny for the entertainment of the stream.

Regardless, there’s no denying that when used, stream sniping can give an exploitative advantage in a game.

How Do You Prove Someone Is Stream Sniping?

While many games explicitly state that stream sniping is a bannable offence in their games, proving that someone is stream sniping is a very difficult thing to do, which means that bans can be tough to enforce. This often leads to people being wrongfully accused and banned for no reason, or people who do stream snipe getting away with it.

For starters, you need to be able to prove they were watching the stream, and this is difficult. Is the user in the chat? How can you confirm it’s the same person as in game? What if the other player is streaming to? Were they using their stream to get a leg up, and if so, how do you prove it?

The only effective way would be some sort of method of confirming IP addresses between developers and Twitch to pinpoint if someone was watching a stream at the right time while playing…but the idea of companies trading people’s information like this, even with consent, is likely not a can of worms anyone wants to open.

Preventing Stream Sniping

There’s no surefire way to know or to prevent someone from stream sniping you; there’s reporting what feels like obvious cases but at the end of the day, it’ll be tough to know if it’s happened or not for certain. In the off-chance that someone who likes to stream snipe is reading this: don’t be a jerk, stop doing it.