Twitch's No Good, Very Bad Time Continues: Part 2

from the pay-to-play dept

I won’t write up a big summary of the ongoing turmoil in the Twitch community for this post. If you need to be brought up to speed, go see Part 1 or our previous posts on the platform. The only summary you really need is that the past few months have seen Twitch piss nearly everyone off by doing two things. First, it bowed to the RIAA over DMCA notices and nuked a ton of creator content without warning. Second, Twitch began experimenting with very intrusive ads, along with other methods for monetizing creator content. The PR communication coming from Twitch over all of this has been wanting, to say the least.

But now it looks like Twitch is looking to tie a bow around both controversies to continue to piss off its talent even more, having announced that the once-sought-after Twitch Affiliate status, earned through a streamer’s ability to get consistent eyeballs, has now been reduced to a pay-to-play scheme involving at least one record label.

Here’s the text from Twitch’s Affiliate site detailing who qualifies.

Who qualifies?

We’re looking for streamers who aren’t yet Partners, but who have at least 50 followers and over the last 30 days have have at least 500 total minutes broadcast, 7 unique broadcast days, and an average of 3 or more concurrent viewers. This criteria may change as the program develops.

That’s been upended by this new deal worked out with music label Monstercat.

Monstercat outlined the new program in a post on its website today. If streamers subscribe to Monstercat Gold for $5 per month, they now gain access not only to a library of songs they can play during their streams, but also Twitch affiliate status. Affiliate is Twitch’s first monetization tier, which allows streamers to gain paid subscribers and Bits, which are basically a donation currency. Before this year, the only way to become an affiliate was to unlock it by having at least 50 followers, 500 total minutes broadcast, an average of 3 or more concurrent viewers, and streaming on 7 different days.

This is similar to a program that Twitch launched with SoundCloud earlier this year, which allowed SoundCloud subscribers to get fast-tracked to affiliate status. But that promotion was focused on musicians. This one, theoretically, is aimed at everybody.

In other words, for $5 a month, you can be a Twitch affiliate. If it seems like that makes the affiliate program mostly meaningless other than as a revenue source for both a music label and Twitch, that’s because it does. It also comes after years of Twitch guarding its affiliate status behind merit-based metrics, which led to a ton of work being done by Twitch streamers to get that status. This is a slap in the face to all of those streamers that earned their status as opposed to paying for it.

“This seems amazingly unfair to all those folks who have worked hard to get to affiliate, but it also feels like it lessens the value of an affiliate status if you can just buy your way in,” Spawn On Me’s Kahlief Adams said on Twitter.

“I think this is not good, kind of gross, and…a little exploitative?” said commentator and streamer Thom “F.” Badinger. “Also depressing how the platform sees its creators with an issue and thinks of it as a monetization opportunity vs something they should help with.”

This Monstercat promotion, then, just turns long-simmering subtext into text: Affiliate and partner status don’t mean anything. They’re just means of incentivizing streamers to do what Twitch wants. Before, that was streaming. Now it’s giving money to companies with which Twitch has made deals. Twitch business partners, at least, must be pleased.

All of which seems to suggest that Twitch doesn’t understand that its most valuable asset is the talent that chooses to stream on Twitch. Without good streamers producing good content, Twitch is a nothing. And the consistent drumbeat pissing off that talent cannot possibly be good for Twitch in the near or long term.

Honestly, at this point I’m mostly just waiting to see what Act 3 of Twitch’s No Good, Very Bad Time will be.

Filed Under: , , , ,
Companies: monstercat, twitch

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Comments on “Twitch's No Good, Very Bad Time Continues: Part 2”

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31 Comments
Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: [lawyers]

"This may be a slight overstatement of the challenges in law school and the bar exam…"

Especially when it comes to RIAA lawyers.

Copyright is to law what a city full of blocked toilets is to the concept of plumbing. One of these supplies steady work for highly educated engineers, the other caters to a market niche for shady handymen with a wrench and a nose for sniffing out the truly desperate willing to pay anything to get their shit flushed right now.

Pretty sure old nick would consider it embarrassing to own the reason for Hansmeier and Steele.

PatrickH says:

If you remember Twitch partnered streamers complained about the affiliates program and the move to a merit based system when it was announced as well. It’s little more than gate keeping. Steamers who earned affiliate status have little to fear from someone who just bought it. After all they still have to attract an audience and convince them they’re worth watching much less spending money on.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

All those people who bought the RTX 2080 when it first came out are getting screwed. People can just casually pick up that same video card now for a fraction of the early adopter price.

And everyone who spent days of play time raiding for their epics in WoW gets the shaft because anyone can now get gear just as good if not better for very little effort.

I get the argument. I’ve heard it countless times in countless other places. But your investment today is not guaranteed to have the same value tomorrow no matter the subject. It’s a fact of life and nobody has ever been compensated for any such imaginary loss. No reason to believe that will change now regardless of how loudly those streamers cry.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

your investment today is not guaranteed to have the same value tomorrow

As explained in a different comment, it’s not about the monetary value – it’s about the emotional and social value of having earned affiliate status through the work of streaming regularly and earning followers and such. The fact that someone can now buy affiliate status without having to put in the same amount of work to build an audience metaphorically slaps the faces of those who earned that status.

It’d be like working up the ranks of a business to a major executive spot, only to find out that a few years later, someone can simply buy their way into a similar spot: You’d feel like you put in all that work for nothing. I hope you can imagine how that feels.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

I can 100% understand how that feels but it doesn’t change the validity of the old saw: "The only thing constant is change." When I talked about value retention I wasn’t necessarily talking about monetary value. "Value", as a concept, covers much more than just dollars and cents.

It’s understandable to be upset when something you worked hard for is suddenly devalued. But that’s just modus operandi for life. It happens all the freaking time. Imagine if instead of now being able to buy affiliate status they introduced a new, higher status you had to work for that conferred only minor additional benefits but everyone serious about streaming felt they needed to achieve? Then later Twitch lets people buy into the original affiliate tier. Would those streamers be just as upset? Or would they now feel they’re better than that crappy old affiliate tier so who cares if you can buy into it?

It’s all simple psychology. Maybe Twitch didn’t go about this in the best possible way but it’s still such a common thing that it’s hard to imagine how anyone can get that upset over it.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5

I can imagine a not-zero number of people getting upset over this situation. They put in hours upon hours of work to achieve that status, and now Twitch will basically hand it out for a few bucks. That renders worthless an untold amount of streaming — of content creating, of cultivating an audience, of succeeding at being a Twitch streamer — for the sake of getting that status. People don’t like having their work (and the time spent on it) diminished, no matter their line of “work”. The only constant being change doesn’t mean people have to like that change — and it doesn’t mean all change is good.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Celyxise (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Before, seeing the subscription option was a mark of trust. If you discover a stream you enjoy and see the sub button, you know that they hit those metrics, so you can expect them to be online often and maintain a stream worth your $5.

If too many people start using these paid methods, then there will be no trust that a sub will really be worth it. Best case scenario is it delays the purchase of a sub while the viewer waits to see if the streamer is holding up their end of the bargain. Worst case is that they just never bother (and market data shows that this is more likely).

nasch (profile) says:

I’m not involved with Twitch at all so this is an outsider’s perspective.

It also comes after years of Twitch guarding its affiliate status behind merit-based metrics, which led to a ton of work being done by Twitch streamers to get that status.

I thought affiliate status was a way for streamers to make some money. If so, then who cares if there’s now another way for streamers to make money? If it’s more a "you’re cool" badge… then also who cares? I mean I understand people with the badge will care, but I don’t see why anyone else should be concerned about them throwing a fit over it.

Affiliate and partner status don’t mean anything. They’re just means of incentivizing streamers to do what Twitch wants.

Is it just me, or does it seem naive to ever think it was anything else?

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