In an increasingly competitive landscape, Twitch remains one of the biggest streaming platforms in the world. After Amazon purchased the service in 2014, Twitch quickly emerged as the name brand for gaming content creators and grew exponentially. Now, it has over 30 million daily active users and 71 million hours of content viewed every single day.
Despite the global success of streaming, Twitch can’t seem to keep its top content creators around. Between compensation discrepancies, offensive comment sections, and the mental load that comes with being a full-time content creator, some of the biggest names in streaming have been leaving Twitch. If the trend continues, gamers could see a massive shift in the streaming market.
Ninja and Pokimane Step Back from Twitch
In the middle of a recent stream, Tyler Blevins, better known as Ninja, abruptly ended his Twitch session and left a cryptic Tweet implying he would be stepping away from his broadcasts. With 18.6 million followers on the platform, Ninja is the most followed account on Twitch. He has five million more followers than the next highest account. Needless to say, Twitch losing Ninja would be a hit to the platform.
While Ninja has not said whether he will be leaving the platform permanently or is simply taking a break, he has scrubbed his social media of many identifying features. His Twitter name is now “User Not Found” and he replaced his usual profile picture with a blank gray template. Ninja has taken similar measures on his Twitch account as well, taking out almost all personal information as his future remains in flux.
Imane Anys, known to fans as the streamer Pokimane, also recently announced a streaming break. Unlike Ninja, Pokimane did provide more context around her pause, Tweeting that she felt regular breaks can be helpful to maintain a healthy work/life balance. This added level of communication helped fans feel confident that Pokimane would return to the platform at some point, it was just a matter of when.
Pokimane has developed a loyal following in her own right. With 9.2 million followers, she checks in as the ninth most followed account on Twitch. While Pokimane has returned to Twitch, this was not her first time stepping away from the platform. Earlier this year, she revealed to fans that she considered retiring from streaming entirely, finding that the pressure of consistently making content was taking a toll on her mental health.
While it can seem trivial with the amount of money these big streamers can bring in, mental health issues have become pervasive among gaming content creators. More than most celebrities, streamers have their lives on display, often for hours on end every single day. With the pressure to entertain and keep fans engaged, a month-long hiatus, like the one Pokimane just took, could end up being a benefit for both creators and their followers in the long term.
The Future of Twitch
With two of the platform’s most popular streamers hinting at leaving the service, it’s fair to question what the future holds for Twitch. Regardless of whether these breaks are permanent or temporary, it’s a growing trend among the streaming service’s most popular creators. Some streamers have left for YouTube Gaming, with the platform providing better compensation for creators. Others have left for more personal reasons, citing pervasive issues of sexism and racism on Twitch.
Even Ninja has left Twitch before, briefly departing for Microsoft’s Mixer platform in 2019. Mixer ultimately couldn’t compete with the bigger players and shut down a year later, with Ninja returning to the platform that made him famous. Whatever the reason for streamers’ departures, it’s clear Twitch will have to change the way it does business. The size of Twitch has allowed it to get away with certain poor practices, but with creators finding new ways to reach audiences, they have more power than ever to connect with fans on their own terms.