Twitch's biggest problem for smaller streamers is discoverability. The streaming platform is notoriously bad at promoting streamers for their audiences to grow, as the site by nature is ordered by size of viewerships. If you're just starting out on Twitch, how are you supposed to stand out if you've got two viewers when playing Valorant? Well, Twitch has come up with a new system for streamers to get promoted and it's already pretty controversial.
During a Patch Notes livestream, Twitch revealed it is implementing a system that will allow streamers to be promoted via monetary donations. As VGC and journalist Zach Bussey report, the system will allow viewers to spend an amount of money for their streamer of choice to turn up in a "recommended" slot for viewers. Though it is still in the test phases of the feature, this is already a controversial topic and there are several reasons why that is.
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First of all, people are comparing this to "pay-to-win" mechanics. You pay money, you're more likely to "win" followers, subscribers, and valued members of your community. And though this is a feature designed with smaller streamers in mind, it does mean that those with dedicated audiences may have a huge advantage over those who are just starting out. This doesn't fix the discoverability issue for the smallest streamers.
Additionally, there would be a temptation for streamers to create throwaway accounts that spend the money to boost their stream. Again, this feels a little like a pay-to-win situation, but it could cause issues for desperate streamers who want to be seen by the masses, overspending with a chance it could make them famous. And as it is, Amazon takes a massive cut of the money that streamers make - affiliates are locked into a 50/50 split of subs for example. Paying money to Amazon to appear on the site to new people feels *off* to many.
Streamers of all sizes have already weighed in on the feature. Cohh Carnage, for example, says: "Initial thoughts on this: I can't even come up with the right words right now on how much I incredibly dislike this direction." Alanah Pearce responds by saying: "Discoverability on Twitch sucks. But I don't think paying Amazon is a solution for anyone but Amazon."
Initial thoughts on this:
I can't even come up with the right words right now on how much I incredibly dislike this direction. https://t.co/Tx9StKFzCh
- Cohh Carnage (@CohhCarnage) September 30, 2021
Negaoryx says: "I went to Twitch without being logged in & this is what the home page's recommendations were. not a single channel below 8k viewers. only one woman. Instead of asking community members to pay Twitch to promote us, why not have an algorithm that serves anyone other than the top 1%?"
I went to twitch without being logged in & this is what the home page's recommendations were. not a single channel below 8k viewers. only 1 woman.
instead of asking community members to pay Twitch to promote us, why not have an algorithm that serves anyone other than the top 1%? pic.twitter.com/efpFL0aJ4c
- negaoryx (@negaoryx) September 30, 2021
Paladin Amber goes along a similar route with her tweet about the situation: "So it was free promotion for the top 1% of twitch but now the rest of us gotta pay to play lmaoooooooo twitch looking like a giant micro-transaction rn"
So it was free promotion for the top 1% of twitch but now the rest of us gotta pay to play lmaoooooooo twitch looking like a giant micro-transaction rn https://t.co/hHq1qa4u9v
- Paladin (@PaladinAmber) September 30, 2021
The issue here is that it feels like it exploits smaller streamers to more predatory practices. Small affiliates combined make Twitch a huge amount of money in all sorts of ways already, from subs to bits to ads. Adding on a new feature that perhaps gives them a chance at achieving their dreams if they spend enough money to be promoted to people feels like it could have terrible side effects on small streamers as a whole.
However, as we said, this is still in the test stages. There could be changes made to the system before it becomes a regular part of the Twitch ecosystem, and it might not even come to Twitch at all if it's unpopular enough.
Featured Image Credit: Twitch
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