Twitch is a live streaming platform that started in 2011, and became extremely popular around 2015. According to the Wall Street Journal, at the beginning of 2015, Twitch averaged 100 million views a month. As of August of this year, Twitch has 2.2 million monthly broadcasters, 15 million daily average users and 140 million unique monthly viewers. These are massive numbers for streamers.
According to TechCrunch, these numbers are blowing competitors, namely YouTube Gaming, out of the water. As shown in the graph, Twitch is miles ahead of competitors such as YouTube Gaming, Facebook Live, Periscope (owned by Twitter) and Mixer.
Blizzard and streamers have not been on the best of terms recently. One of the biggest examples of this relationship being tense is the recent events of streamer Félix “xQc” Lengyel.
What Happened This Time?
In a recent stream, xQc was playing Overwatch, as he typically does. He is one of, if not the most, viewed Overwatch streamer on Twitch. This past week, he has streamed a total of 68 hours to Twitch. He had an average viewership of approximately 15,000 viewers. However, recent events led to him being banned and not streaming Overwatch. So what happened?
xQc is no stranger to controversy. Between him being released by the Dallas Fuel, being banned by Blizzard from Overwatch only two weeks before the Los Angeles Qualifiers for the Overwatch World Cup, or his account being permanently banned from League of Legends, xQc stays in the spotlight one way or another. The common theme around xQc’s suspensions and bans is “abusive in game chat.” The most recent incident is no different. xQc has been banned from Overwatch on his account for 24 days for “abusive chat.” He also explains that he made a custom game, and after he had left, someone changed the name to offensive names, and this contributed to xQc being suspended.
What Happens Next?
xQc has not stopped streaming. The day after his ban, he decided to keep streaming, this time playing Minecraft. His stream reached a point where he was getting more viewers than everyone else on the platform streaming Overwatch. This should be a wake up call for Blizzard. Their biggest streamer threatens to quit, and starts playing another game. A non-Blizzard game. While Blizzard may have been justified, they seem to be targeting him because of his large audience.
Blizzard should be supporting streamers. They should realize that, especially in the absence of the Overwatch League, viewers want Overwatch. Viewers want to see highly skilled players, and often those with loud personalities are the ones who get the most views. Instead of consistently banning them, forcing them away from the game, they should be working with them, forming a partnership that benefits both the streamer and the company.
Individual Overwatch League teams have signed their own streamers, in an attempt to bridge this gap. Teams like the Philadelphia Fusion have made an effort to sign streamers to their brand, and have them continue under their support. This can help streamers build an audience and have more security in the work they are doing. This also gives the teams more accountability and direct reach with the streamers that they bring on. So far, the Fusion are the only team to have signed streamers. Should more teams develop this model?
Follow me on Twitter @awheatondude I would love to hear your thoughts.
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