Stream Sniping can be one of the most frustrating forms of online harassment to contend with as a live streamer. One person who decides to take on the mantle of the dedicated sniper can derail your content and make it impossible for your audience to enjoy your stream. Not only that, but it affects your emotional state directly when you are targeted.
In this article, I’ll teach you how to use the Stream Delay feature in OBS Studio to make this form of harassment a thing of the past.
Table of Contents
What is Stream Sniping?
Stream Sniping is a form of online harassment. It is the act of watching somebody’s live stream, joining their game, and using the live stream as a pseudo GPS tracking method. From there, the sniper can literally snipe the streamer to oblivion, depending on the game in question, and there is little that the streamer can do to prevent it.
This can quickly escalate into the streamer’s content becoming increasingly disjointed, causing audience members to lose interest. Additionally, if the targeted streamer has some underlying mental health issues, it can even lead to them taking drastic measures, as it is effectively online bullying.
This is why I leave these numbers here for you – If you feel that you are not okay, please don’t wait to seek help. Also, if you know somebody who struggles with dark thoughts, try encouraging them to do the same. We’ve lost too many amazing creators to similar incidents, and I don’t want this to happen to anybody else.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- (800) 273-8255
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Spanish)
- (888) 628-9454
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Options for Deaf and Hard of Hearing)
- (800) 799-4889
- Crisis Text Line
- Text HELLO to 741741
- Veterans Crisis Line
- (800) 273-8255
I hope that you will never need these, but don’t put them off if you do.
What Kind of Content Draws Stream Snipers?
There are really only two kinds of streamed content that are vulnerable to stream sniping. The first and most common are multiplayer video games, while the second is in-person events.
I’m not saying multiplayer video games are evil – far from it. In fact, multiplayer video games have been a significant part of my life growing up. I used them as a way to interact with friends and family that I no longer live near, and without them, I would have ended up as a very different person today.
The problem with them is that they are susceptible to internet trolls. Anonymity tends to embolden people, causing them to share more of themselves than they would in person, and sometimes, those pieces of themselves are malicious. In the case of streamers, this often takes the form of stream sniping.
The second type is actually very rare, as it requires a person to become physically present at the place where you are live. A better word for this type of stream sniping is stalking. If you are live in a public place, be on your guard when you end your stream and ensure you have your phone ready in case of emergency.
Here is a self-defense kit you can use if you feel that you are in danger. Hopefully, you’ll never have to use it, but it is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. Also, don’t hesitate to look elsewhere for other kits if this one doesn’t suit you.
Video Game Genres Where This is Common
There are a few different criteria for a game to have the potential for stream sniping:
- The game must be multiplayer
- People need the ability to figure out what game lobby the streamer is in
- And people must have access to the lobby.
From there, it is just a matter of knowing the map and using landmarks within the game to pinpoint your location.
Some game genres that are susceptible to these conditions are:
- FPS Games
- MMO Games
- MOBA Games
This is by no means a comprehensive list, as there are simply too many games to list off that are susceptible. However, with that said, you can quickly figure it out for yourself from the above list of criteria.
I know that when I played Eve online, the alliance I worked with required that I add a stream delay of at least 1 minute so that our fleet wouldn’t get ambushed by enemy spies watching our pathing. However, they weren’t keen on my streaming it either because it would allow the enemy fleet to fit ships that would directly counter ours. So you’ll want to be aware of that when you decide what content to stream.
The Countermeasures – Stream Delay & Passworded Lobbies
This article focuses on the stream delay feature of OBS Studio. However, there is another method to counteract stream snipers in games that support the feature. I felt it was important to mention this method, as the stream delay feature is a downside and a boon.
Countermeasure 1 – Passworded Lobbies
This countermeasure is only helpful in games that allow you to create private lobbies, but it is one of the most effective measures to prevent stream sniping. This is because you only play with other people you trust to not brutalize your content – your friends, subscribers, etc.
The disadvantage of this countermeasure is that it isn’t available in every multiplayer game, which means your only solution for other games is the Stream Delay feature.
Countermeasure 2 – Stream Delay
If the problem is that the bad actor can take your live content and use it as a GPS to pinpoint your location, then the solution to the problem is to make your content no longer truly live. This is what Stream Delay is for – It will offset the live feed by a value of your choosing.
Of course, the downside is that the longer the delay becomes, the harder it becomes to interact with your audience. People who watch streamers look for that creator-viewer interaction, where the viewer becomes a part of the creator’s content. The stream delay feature actively works against this interaction, thus a problem for some audience members who are looking for this.
How to Enable Stream Delay in OBS Studio
To enable stream delay to combat stream sniping:
- Left-Click on Settings within the OBS Controls Dock
- Go into the Advanced tab
- Scroll down until you find Stream Delay
- Left-Click on the Enable Toggle
- Set the Duration to anything from 1 second to 999 seconds
- Left-Click Apply
Keep in mind that the longer the delay becomes, the more RAM is used, so if you are short on ram, there is an upper limit. I recommend keeping the value at around 20 seconds to a minute and thirty seconds. This should be enough time for you to avoid tracking your position enough to make it impractical for would-be snipers.
Conclusion – Stream Sniping Sucks
It is one thing if you challenge your viewers to stream snipe you to make that a focus of your content. It is another thing entirely if you just want to play the game and share it with your audience. I wish people who engage in these sorts of activities would realize the impact their actions could have on somebody.
At least there are tools available to us that are baked into most broadcasting software solutions out there that help against this form of harassment.
At any rate, I hope you have an excellent rest of your day! Hopefully free of stream snipers and such. Until next time!