What is stream sniping? Here's what you need to know about the livestream exploitation tactic in gaming, and how to prevent it

What is stream sniping? Here's what you need to know about the livestream exploitation tactic in gaming, and how to prevent it
Stream sniping gives users an unfair advantage over their opponents.CasarsaGuru/Getty Images
  • Stream sniping is when an online gamer exploits the livestream of a person they're playing against in an abusive, advantageous, or annoying way.
  • You may be able to modify your livestream in a way that foils the tactics of would-be stream snipers.

Stream sniping is an opportunistic tactic in online gaming when a viewer exploits information by watching the livestream of someone they're playing against.

It's a simple trick, but stream sniping can result in an experience so frustrating that it can send a livestreamer into expletive-addled rages that get them banned from Twitch.

What to know about stream sniping

Stream sniping is a sort of gaming "hack," except you don't need special hardware or years of coding expertise to perform it. All a stream sniper needs is a bit of luck since they can't guarantee they'll be in a game with someone who is livestreaming.
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But once they've established that, the act of stream sniping is simple: They simply tune into the target's stream on another screen and wreak havoc in the game with their unfair, lopsided information advantage.

The advantage a stream sniper has is nothing to scoff at - that window into another player's gameplay can make a difference, and it's even a bannable offense when used in some instances, like one streamer did in Twitch's Rivals competition.

How to prevent and mitigate stream sniping

Some games, like "Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War," have measures to try and prevent stream snipers from being in the same games as streamers in the first place by hiding information about game matchmaking.
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Twitch, the most popular platform for livestreaming, has a broadcast delay feature for streamers to mitigate stream sniping. If a stream sniper ends up in a game with a streamer, they'll be watching the streamer's actions on a delay of several seconds, obfuscating the streamer's exact position in the game at any moment.

Streamers often try to grow an audience by featuring their username with the added "TTV" to indicate a Twitch profile - but they risk the dreaded stream sniper catching their attention as well. Finally, big-time streamers often use pseudonyms so that they can't be identified as a streamer while in a game. The average person, however, may risk losing more of an audience by using a pseudonym. But that risk might be worth it if you're constantly battling stream snipers.
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