- Twitch is constantly under fire for controversial actions.
- Hate speech and bigotry overwhelm public chat logs.
- Restrictive contracts are said to be limiting Twitch stars
Amazon’s streaming service Twitch is by far the most popular platform of its kind. Unique in its creation, the success of live-streamed content has fostered competitors in the form of Microsoft, Google and Facebook to take a slice of the pie. And even then, while Twitch remains far ahead of its international competition, that’s not to say it hasn’t come with its fair share of complications.
Almost every week it seems Twitch is coming under fire. Whether that’s a controversial ban or lack thereof, the company can never seem to find that sweet spot. As a result, leading personalities are fleeting to greener pastures, indicating a larger problem in a world where heavy-hitters are doubling down on live-streaming. Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, Jack “Courage” Dunlop and Michael Shroud” Grzesiek are just some of the big names to part ways with Twitch this year.
If Twitch wants to be the juggernaut it aspires to, several renovations are needed.
Toxic chat logs
Twitch chat is a crux of the live-streaming model. It’s what truly brings the viewers in and makes the streams interactive. Unfortunately, Twitch chat has become synonymous with hateful speech and bigotry.
Behind virtual lines, chatters remain anonymous and free to express themselves. This has its obvious set of complications tied to it. Racial slurs, sexist comments and everything in between often litter the Twitch streams of major tournaments and popular streamers. It happens often, but rarely gets talked about openly.
Professional Hearthstone player Rumay “Hafu” Wang described her experience as a female gamer:
When you have a tournament and there’s just one girl in a sea of guys, the Twitch chat is disgusting.
The ‘TriHard’ Twitch emote based off professional speedrunner Mychal “TriHex” Jefferson has been another controversial subject. The emote was being used in racially derogatory manners that eventually landed Overwatch League player Félix “xQc” Lengyel in hot waters.
Twitch chat is a breeding ground for this type of ignorance. While you can take some preventative measures to moderate chats, the internet culture behind it is inseparable at this point.
Favoritism and Bias
One of Twitch’s greatest obstacles has been the management of its content creators. Claims of heavy favoritism and bias have been an ongoing debate circling the streaming platform.
More precisely, the discrepancies in offenses and bans between big-time streamers and everyone below them. Twitch streamer Pokelawls was handed a 72-hour ban after revealing the backside of a naked man in a music video. Meanwhile, massively popular streamer Pokimane was recently baited into showing extremely lewd pornography on her channel. The incident which occurred last week has yet to result in any Twitch official action for Pokimane.
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Again, the citations are far too exhaustive to explore in each case. Even worse is that it’s happening on a day-to-day bias. It’s a risky ploy from Twitch, but ultimately not sending the right message to its users. Making an example of lesser-known streamers and letting superstars remain unscathed is dividing the community. It sets a precedent that top streamers are basically invincible.
Ninja’s departure from Twitch over to Mixer was this year’s biggest story.
It was a first-of-its-kind (at the time) and separated the streamer from the platform that jump started his success. As Ninja’s wife and manager Jessica Blevins explained, Twitch was limiting his opportunities.
Twitch’s contract with Tyler as it pertained to outside brand deals was too restrictive,” Blevins said. “Twitch effectively was limiting Tyler’s ability to grow as more than just a gaming personality on the platform.
Streamer TrainwrecksTV revealed a similar issue recently. The streamer was forced to decline a $1.2 million deal from a competitor, arguing Twitch doesn’t back him the same way.
And I couldn’t do it, because I’m exclusive to Twitch,” he said. “If they think I’m too toxic or brand unfriendly for them, then take my exclusivity out.
Case in point, Twitch wants to retain its content creators. But it doesn’t seem they have the competency to do so in mutually beneficial ways. While the live-stream giant may have topped the charts up until 2019, these downfalls could cost them big in the upcoming year.
This article was edited by Sam Bourgi.