Twitch emotes are a fantastic way to add a bit of flair to your Twitch stream and entice watchers to either follow or subscribe. And if playing video games for cash is one of your top passion fire priorities, you definitely need those sweet, sweet subscribers.
This ultimate guide to emotes on Twitch is going to give you a little background on the emotes (especially the most popular ones), and then dive into the differences between global and channel emotes, creating custom emotes, and using emotes without being an affiliate.
Here’s everything you ever wanted to know about Twitch Emotes.
What Are Twitch Emotes?
Twitch’s emotes are very similar to the emotes that you see on your phone and other social media sites.
They are fun little icons people use in the Twitch chat. They are used to cheer, laugh, cry, and convey a variety of other emotions and reactions. Twitch has mastered the use of emoticons in ways other websites can only dream of. Twitch built an entire culture with their emotes system.
Many emotes have turned into memes within the gaming community. Some have even made appearances outside of it as well.
Popular Twitch Emotes
Some of the most popular and widely known Twitch emotes are cut-outs of influential streamers and creators’ faces showing some type of reaction. Yes, cut-outs of faces can become emotes! The most widely known is Kappa. They made this emoticon from a greyscale photo of the creator of what came to be known as Twitter’s chat.
That was before Twitter was even a thing, way back in 2007, when the premier streaming platform was Justin.tv (which eventually morphed into Twitch).
The Kappa emoticon is now fully ingrained into Twitch culture. Generally, it signifies an eye roll or a sarcastic response. People also use it to spam chats.
The LUL emote is another trendy icon. It stands for “lame uncomfortable laugh” and depicts the late streamer, John Bain, laughing. There were some copyright/trademark issues with its use in the beginning. Still, the original photographer, Jonathan Tayag, authorized Twitch to use it under the stipulation that it be free for everyone. It’s now one of the most popular global emotes. Unfortunately, Bain passed away after a battle with cancer in 2018, at the age of 33.
The BibleThump emote is one of the most popular global emotes that is an illustration rather than a person’s face. It’s generally used to depict sadness, either to commiserate with the streamer or someone in chat or as a meme.
Popular memes, such as the “feels bad man” frog and the “concern doge,” have also found their way into popular Twitch emotes.
Global Emotes vs. Channel Emotes
There are two different types of emotes that you will see on Twitch – global emotes and channel emotes. Global emotes are available for everyone to use, whereas channel emotes are limited to channel subscribers. Channel emotes are what gives streamers who’ve reached affiliate or partner status a little bit of personalization and control over their stream chats.
How Do I get Twitch Emotes?
Every streamer and viewer has access to global Twitch emotes. All you have to do to use one of the global emotes is to click the little smiley face icon in the chatbox and choose your emoji – just like with other social media and texting apps.
The channel emotes are where Twitch truly stands out from all other social platforms (if you consider Twitch to be a social platform). You need to get started with streaming and achieve affiliate or partner status to have access to them, but it’s definitely worth the effort. Where else can you make and use custom emojis?
If you are watcher rather than a streamer, you get custom channel emotes when you subscribe to a channel. It’s up to the individual streamer to decide which emoji each tier the subscriber can access.
Making Custom Emotes
Some streamers do make their own custom emotes, but a ton of others hire a graphic artist. If you don’t have a lot of experience with a photo editor, it might be better to hire an artist, because some technical requirements need to be met for the emote to work with Twitch’s platform. But please, be sure to pay the artist fairly for their work. They are freelancers trying to make a living too!
Twitch also has restrictions and guidelines for what types of emotes you can usee used on their site. They want to keep the site friendly and open to everyone, and unfortunately, some would use the power of Twitch emotes to be abusive. Twitch is adamant about keeping their site clean and will reject or remove any emoticon that doesn’t meet their guidelines.
Fortunately, all of their technical guidelines and restrictions are pretty straight forward and probably what you would expect from a website trying to keep things clean, safe, and professional.
General Requirements for Emotes
When making custom emotes, make sure that they follow all of Twitch’s community rules. That means they can’t contain any of the following content:
- Hateful –racial/sexist slurs, symbols, stereotypes
- Harassment – Targeted insults, bullying, threatening
- Threats of violence – Threats against others, threats of suicide
- Obscene content – gratuitous depictions of violence, blood, gore, severe injury, death
- Sexual content – sexual acts (sex, masturbation), arousal, gestures, aids, and attire
- Nudity – depictions and imitations of nude torsos, buttocks, genitals, and anuses.
- Illegal drugs – depictions or references to illegal drug use, drugs, and drug paraphernalia.
- Vulgarity – obscene or explicit words, phrases, and gestures
- Politics – political phrases, symbols, and figures
- Animations – Unless you are a Twitch partner using their cheermote feature
- Individual letters and characters – Unless you are a Twitch Partner and the letters or characters that you use are a key part of your brand
- Twitch Brand Assets – images or content trademarked by Twitch
- Emoticons based on Twitch Global Emoticons – copies of the emoticons already there
- Copyright/trademark infringement – Other people’s art, brands, content, likenesses, etc. without explicit written permission
Twitch will review your custom emotes before approval and continues to monitor its site for violations of any of these guidelines. Failure to follow these requirements can lead to the removal of the offending content or a penalty on your account. The most severe punishment is an indefinite account suspension. That means Twitch takes away your entire account forever. That’s why it’s incredibly important to follow their guidelines.
Technical Requirements for Emotes
- PNG Format
- Correct size, all three are required (28 x 28; 56 x 56 and 112 x 112)
- File size less than 25kb
- Transparent background
When you upload a custom emoticon, a prompt makes you choose a unique code that goes along with it. This code can have up to 20 characters, but only letters and numbers are allowed. You should also check your icons at full resolution before uploading them to ensure any words are easily readable and that all the images are as sharp as you want them to be.
How Many Custom Twitch Emotes can I Have?
Twitch has a somewhat complicated system for determining how many emotes an affiliate or streamer can have. They base the system on sub-points. In general, one subscriber is worth one point, but there are different tiers of subscribers. Tier 1 subscribers are worth one point, tier 2 subscribers are worth 2 points, and tier 3 subscribers are worth 6 points.
So you can unlock more custom slots with fewer subscribers if they are top tier subscribers.
The maximum amount of custom emotes you can have as a Twitch affiliate is 5, and you need 20 subscriber points for that. On the plus side, you don’t need any subscriber points to unlock your first emoji!
Twitch partners can get up to 60 custom emote slots, but they need a whopping ten thousand subscriber points to achieve that. That’s a ton of subscribers! If you can accomplish that, you can probably make playing video games your full-time job!
Can I Get Custom Twitch Emotes Without Being an Affiliate?
So far, we’ve only addressed the custom emote process on the Twitch platform itself. But there are always other options, which are perfectly compatible with Twitch. BetterTTV (BTTV) is a plugin that you can install, which works with Twitch and gives you access to a variety of emoticon options. It offers a ton of different global emotes that you don’t have access to in the general Twitch chat, and gives you the ability to upload your custom emote. I uploaded an emote of my cat!
With the free version of BTTV, you can upload up to 15 custom emotes for on your channel. You can also add 15 shared emotes – which are emotes that were created and uploaded by others, but that they’ve put out for others to use. You can share any emote you upload by clicking the “share” box.
Differences Between Twitch Custom Emotes and BTTV Custom Emotes
Even though you can use an extension like BTTV to get custom emotes, they don’t have the same functionality as the Twitch custom emotes. The great thing about the BTTV emotes is that you don’t need to be an affiliate to use them. You can customize your stream with cat emotes all you want without having to meet those difficult requirements!
But, you also lose the perks. One of the biggest advantages of having Twitch custom emotes is that they give your subscribers something. As an affiliate or partner, you want to entice people to subscribe to your channel. You want to offer them cool icons that only they get, as a badge of honor for being your fan. Twitch’s custom emotes gives subscribers that. And, they also get to use those custom emotes in any other stream they watch. That is a great way to let your fans market your stream, and will help you grow.
You don’t have the ability to do any of those things with the BTTV emotes. Users can only use them in your chat (unless you’ve shared them through the BTTV platform and someone else finds it) – but even then, it’s more difficult to attribute them. Also, you can’t pick and choose who gets to use them when in your chat. They are free to everyone, whether they subscribe or not.
The advantage of BTTV is that you can use these emotes before you make affiliate. Having some playful, unique emotes, along with a great stream, could be the push that someone needs to hit that follow button and get you one step closer to being an affiliate.
Emotes Help Your Twitch Stream Stand Out
Whether you are an affiliate or not, using custom emotes helps your stream stand out. Emotes are one of the many things you can do to showcase your personality and increase your followership. So what are you waiting for? Get to creating some custom emotes today!
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world's problems. She's self-educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming, and her cats.