Twitch has become synonymous with the bright personality known as Ninja in 2019, but their homegrown star has decided to leave for a big payday with Microsoft created Mixer. As of writing, Ninja hit 500,000 subscribers on the new platform and generated over 3.8 million views after one weekend of streaming at Lollapalooza.
READ MORE: Ninja: the legendary son of Halo
Setting a precedent
When it comes to streaming games, Ninja has always been at the forefront of the mainstream. Ninja started his career on Justin.tv streaming Halo Reach 1v1 ladder matches, and moved to Twitch when the creator of Justin.tv decided to spin off all gaming content. Ninja is as original as it gets for Twitch streamers, so either Microsoft loaded up a BRINK truck to Ninja's home or he really believes in what Mixer has to offer.
If Twitch came up in a casual conversation with someone who doesn't know about esports they would more than likely associate Ninja before any other content creator because of how much exposure he has gotten over the past two years. Ninja was the poster boy for Twitch, and now he has once again pioneered into a new format.
Of course Mixer is not "new" in the traditional sense, but it has yet to produce homegrown talent that averages a high volume of viewers. Mixer has decided to buy the rights to esports leagues such as the Smite Pro League, but the viewership for such an event pales in comparison to what Ninja does weekly. Much like the George Steinbrenner era Yankees, Mixer is not afraid to pay for free agents and attracting the biggest free agent is only a signal to other content creators that they would be welcome on the platform.
Twitch's problems as the top dog
Twitch has enjoyed a dominance of video game streams since inception, and despite the advent of other services (MLG.tv, YouTube Gaming, Azubu, own3d, Hitbox) no one has made a dent in their market share. YouTube Gaming and more recently Facebook have made the splashiest attempts by buying rights to online CS:GO leagues (ECS and ESL Pro League respectively), but those efforts saw the respective platforms biggest flaws exposed and both leagues are back on Twitch.
Twitch has the biggest reach of all platforms, but many find it hard to grow from nothing in the modern era because discoverability is so low for newer streamers. Twitch has tried to alleviate this problem by introducing the affiliate program and altering the homepage, but due to how many streamers exist it is still extremely hard to break through.
Twitch has also faced many controversies over how they treat their biggest stars differently. For example, female streamer Natalia 'Alinity Divine' Mogollon has not faced any reprimands despite being in the news for negative reasons and potential TOS violations, but Guy "DrDisrespect" Beahm IV was banned immediately for around a month following an IRL stream in the E3 bathroom.
The issue most have is that there is not an equal application of the Twitch TOS especially towards smaller streamers whose streams may be on the rise but get axed due to a violation that could cost them a future career. Mixer has taken some criticism recently for their very stringent policy towards streamer's dress code, but the company has stated they are willing to be malleable.
The big picture is that Twitch has become a fun albeit flawed monopoly due to the lack of competition. While it will take more than just Ninja moving to Mixer to change that, it is a big first step in bringing back competition to a very noncompetitive space despite previous companies best efforts.
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