Gaming’s biggest names are ditching Twitch for $10 million contracts, When Jeremy Wang began streaming on Twitch in 2016, he was an unknown twenty-something with some coding internships under his belt. Virtually nobody knew his name or what he seemed. The latter, at least, designed: Wang, now 28, originally wore a mask everywhere — whether playing video games at competitive events or streaming from a closet while seeing his sister in New York.”
For me, it was natural to select Twitch since the thinking at that time was’this is the place to be if you would like to be a famed streamer,'” Wang, much better called Disguised Toast, recalled to CNN Business at a recent interview. Following years of streaming on Twitch — including an unmasking stream that drew a lot of attention — he had attracted over a thousand followers and eventually become one of the better-known players on the stage.
So it came as a shock to a lot of his supporters when Wang declared in late November that he was leaving the platform which brought him fame to function with Facebook (FB) Gambling, a relative newcomer in the gaming area. Behind the scenes, however, Toast was weighing rewarding offers for almost six months from Amazon (AMZN)’s Twitch, Microsoft (MSFT)’s Mixer and Google (GOOGL)’s YouTube, before deciding on Facebook.
Finally, he switched to his parents for advice. Their initial reaction, he said, was essentially: “Just do whatever makes you happy'” They then saw the real offers he was becoming. Wang said they informed him, “Wow, that’s a whole lot of money!”
He declined to provide details on the offer. Disguised Toast is just one of a growing number of video game celebrities becoming poached from Twitch, long the undisputed leader in the market, by rival platforms mostly owned by giant tech firms effective at turning around large checkbooks. Besides Facebook, YouTube, and Mixer, there are also a number of Chinese streaming platforms and Caffeine, a well-funded startup established by former Apple (AAPL) employees.
Every month brings news of high-profile Twitch departures. In October, Michael”Shroud” Grzesiek left Twitch to get Mixer. Back in November, Soleil”Ewok” Wheeler, a 14-year-old deaf Fortnite streamer, left for Mixer, also. Fortnite celebrity Corinna Kopf departed to Facebook Gambling in December. And at least three more Twitch players, including Rachell “Valkyrae” Hofstetter, signed on YouTube just this month.
The fight for top gaming ability mirrors the big-budget battles for celebrities in the music and film industries. In every case, large technology businesses are searching to lure customers and stick out from the bunch with large names and exclusive material deals. For Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon, live streaming is just another battlefield for our money and attention. Right now, people are spending tens of thousands of hours online watching others play video games every day. Video gaming content generated $6.5 billion in earnings in 2019, based on SuperData, a Nielsen firm that monitors the video game industry. .
The gaming defections also highlight the rising challenge that Twitch, which Amazon bought for nearly $1 billion more than five decades ago, faces in an increasingly competitive market filled with other tech-backed rivals. These founders are enticed by contracts which can total in the millions or even thousands of dollars, according to industry specialists. In some cases, streamers might also be motivated by growing dissatisfaction with the manner Twitch enforces its material moderation policies, even as they risk losing fan bases that took decades to build.
In December 2018, Twitch accounted for 67% of hours watched at the live streaming gaming marketplace, based on StreamElements. But Twitch’s share of this market dropped slightly a year later — to 61 percent — like YouTube, Facebook Gaming and Mixer start to pick up traction. Twitch, oftentimes, has counter-offered, according to industry sources. However, some say it isn’t doing enough. “Twitch has not been aggressive in defending their own position. They haven’t radically changed their philosophy.” Stated Lee Trink, CEO of FaZe Clan, a major esports organization.
Trink said Twitch ran”the probability of being complacent” given its dominance in the market. (Twitch declined to examine its negotiation procedure.) While lucrative offers have been making their way across the market for at least a year, the talent exodus from Twitch seems to have picked up pace in recent months. And it mostly started with one departure.