History of the rise and fall of Twitch, a popular distribution platform in Japan

There are various live streaming platforms such as YouTube and Kick, but Twitch is gaining strong support mainly from game streamers. As can be seen from the fact that Japanese streamer SHAKA is ranked among the top 10 Twitch streamers in 2023 , Twitch has started to gather a large number of viewers in Japan, but let's take a look at its history of rise and fall. Compiled by international media outlet Fast Company.

How Twitch lost its way

Twitch originally started in 2007 as a live streaming platform called Justin.TV. As gaming content was particularly popular on Justin.TV, the team decided to separate the service into a game distribution platform called TwitchTV. After that, in 2014, Justin.TV changed its company name to 'Twitch Interactive' and began to focus on the gaming business.

This year, streaming on Twitch that allows the entire audience to play Pokemon using chat became popular, and Twitch also increased its profile and succeeded in acquiring millions of users.

Thousands of players join forces to play 'Pokémon', which can be played by thousands of people at the same time, and fight to the death with Matisse - GIGAZINE

After that, Twitch will be acquired by Amazon for an amount of over 900 million dollars (about 133 billion yen). At the time, Twitch had around 55 million unique users and was advertised as having 'billions of minutes' of total viewing time. In the few years since being acquired by Amazon, Twitch and the esports industry will grow into a $1 billion (approximately 150 billion yen) industry.

Amazon successfully defeats Google and acquires live game service Twitch - GIGAZINE

Fast Company points out that the history of Twitch can be traced back to the career of Ninja , who has been active as a streamer on the platform since the days of Justin.TV.

Since Twitch was acquired by Amazon, Ninja has gained attention for streaming battle royale games such as PUBG: Battlegrounds and Fortnite, and in 2018, he earned ``more than 50 million yen a month from playing games''. became a big topic. He has also become a hot topic for earning over 100 million yen from promoting Apex Legends .

Popular pro gamer revealed to be earning more than 50 million yen every month from playing live games on Twitch - GIGAZINE

In 2019, Ninja became so popular that he made a cameo appearance in the Super Bowl commercial, the most popular TV commercial slot in America. In 2019, he was also selected as one of TIME's ``100 Most Influential People in the World .''

After that, Ninja signed a contract with Microsoft to change the distribution platform from Twitch to the competing service Mixer, and received a contract fee worth 20 million dollars (about 3 billion yen). From around this time, it seems that streamers who stream more than content on Twitch have been attracting more attention. In addition, Mixer announced the end of its service in June 2020 , and Ninja also had to return to Twitch.

A popular gamer who earns more than 50 million yen a month through game distribution announces that he will graduate from Twitch and transfer to Mixer, which is operated by Microsoft - GIGAZINE

In 2020, the new coronavirus pandemic broke out, and people around the world were unable to go outside due to lockdowns. As the demand for video calling services Zoom and FaceTime increases, Twitch will also gain more attention.

According to a report published in 2021 , total viewing time on Twitch increased by 45% from 2020 to 2021 due to the new coronavirus pandemic. But it's not just total viewing time that has increased.

In October 2020, HasanAbi and DrLupo became popular on Twitch, collaborating with American politician Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to play Among Us . It is said that the total number of viewers for this broadcast exceeded 500,000 people .

Popular games on Twitch such as Fall Guys and Fortnite have come to play a huge cultural role , and in 2020, it was said that during the coronavirus pandemic, Twitch was rapidly conquering the world. 'It seemed like it was going to be put away,' Fast Company wrote.

However, Jordan Uhl, a user from the days of Justin.TV and a left-wing activist, says, ``Twitch showed a lot of potential. I don't think they realized that there were some serious flaws that put some pretty severe limitations on many creators.' He points out that Twitch, which was growing rapidly, clearly had problems.

An anonymous employee who has worked at Twitch for many years said, ``I don't think leaders at a high enough level understand the value of having a really fun user experience. Or what a fun user experience is. What does that actually mean? Because it's clear that there hasn't been a lot of investment made to achieve that.' He pointed out that this is due to a lack of investment.

Furthermore, ``Video-on-demand (VOD) content such as YouTube and Netflix can be paused and played at any time.In contrast, VOD content on Twitch has been very disastrous.Twitch management Twitch has long focused solely on live-streamed content, arguing that it shouldn't invest in VOD content. Live-streamed content is Twitch's specialty, and executives are interested in expanding from there. 'They don't have it,' he said, analyzing the problems with Twtich.

In recent years, Twitch has spent a lot of money and time to solve the above problems, and it seems that there are actually many improvements. However, Fast Company points out that ``the problem is that it is much easier for YouTube to imitate Twitch than for Twitch to imitate YouTube,'' and points out that rival YouTube has also significantly evolved. I am.

In 2021, multiple streamers boycotted streaming on Twtich due to an increase in trolling using bots that post large numbers of defamatory comments containing racial and sexist content . ADayOffTwitch ” campaign to appeal for the protection of users and creators. In response to this movement, Twitch has promised to update its community management tools to ultimately protect creators and users from trolling and abusive behavior.

``#ADayOffTwitch'' breaks out, claiming that ``Twitch should protect users from bombardment of discriminatory comments by trolls'' and boycotting distribution for just one day - GIGAZINE

According to a third-party copywriter who works with Twtich as a client, in response to various events leading up to the end of 2022, Twtich has pivoted to return to its traditional audience of gamers rather than competing with platforms such as YouTube. It seems that this has been confirmed.

However, in June 2023, Twtich announced guidelines that prohibit video ads, banner ads, and audio ads during distribution. This received a lot of criticism from users, so the company quickly reversed course. It seems that it is not uncommon for Twtich in recent years for the company's policy to change again and again, and Fast Company points out that this is a negative effect of the ``change of CEOs'' that has been repeated in recent years.

Twitch announces guidelines banning video ads, banner ads, and audio ads during distribution, but criticism floods - GIGAZINE

In addition, it has been pointed out that one of Twtich's problems is that ``What Amazon wants does not always match what Twtich wants or needs.'' Specifically, Twtich followed Amazon's 'strict non-compete clause' and prohibited streamers from simultaneously distributing on multiple distribution platforms, including Twtich. As a result, the company finally lifted the ban on simultaneous distribution on multiple platforms in October 2023, which led to Ninja's withdrawal and the departure of other popular streamers. Fast Company points out that the discrepancy between the policies of Amazon, Twtich's parent company, and what is expected of the streamer community makes the future of the platform uncertain.

Additionally, Twtich will end its service in South Korea in December 2023.

Twitch announces termination of service in Korea, reasons why service must be terminated in Korea & summary of reactions of streamers who are also active in Japan - GIGAZINE

Furthermore, since the beginning of 2024, we have laid off 500 people, equivalent to 35% of our employees.

Twitch cuts 35% of employees - GIGAZINE

Although some are worried about Twtich's future due to service termination and staff reductions, it is clear that Twtich remains extremely popular. Mr. Wool, one of the people interviewed by Fast Company, said that it is unclear whether Twtich will grow further in the future, but that his future plans are to 'be as easy to search as YouTube and to be as easy to use as recommendations.' This is listed as a point that can be easily improved.

in Web Service,   Game, Posted by logu_ii