On August 1, 2019, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins made the Internet implode with an announcement:
Ninja’s move reminds me a bit of Howard Stern’s jump from terrestrial radio to satellite, only done with a lot more subtlety and grace. (You can only say “When I go to satellite…” so many times until I stop listening.) What was even more astounding was how Ninja brought thousands of new viewers to Mixer even before his first stream there. This announcement carried such an impact that while at GenCon, I had someone ask me “Are you going to make the jump?” on noticing my “World’s Okayest Streamer” shirt. This was less than 24 hours after Ninja’s tweet.
So…what am I planning for the future?
As I say on my stream, “Let’s talk, Chat…”
Let’s just address the Godzilla in the Stream. No, I’m not leaving Twitch anytime soon. First and foremost, I’ve written a book on Twitch and am insanely proud of it. It would be impossible for me to promote with a straight face Twitch for Dummies while transitioning to Mixer. Other content creators might be able to do something like that; but no, not my style.
The other reason I’m staying put? I’ve seen all this before.
Let’s step back in time to 2009. Facebook had come into its own by this time, but was still that fresh-faced, wide-eyed social media platform of opportunity. My Day Job at the time — Senior Social Media Manager with a data and identity security firm — looked to me as the subject matter expert on social media. There was a massive amount of concern from my bosses over what people were sharing willingly on Facebook. In my deep dive into Zuckerberg’s house, I was noticing third-party apps and games like Farmville were generating the kind of revenue startups dream about. Facebook wanted to become more of a player in this. The “free lunch” of social media marketing was hardly done, but we were closing in on dessert. With the early attempts of Facebook adjusting algorithms for paid content, many of the 2009-2010 “social media gurus” pined for the earlier days of Facebook when everything was “organic” (double-speak for “free”) and your message would be seen by your connections without any sort of hindrance.
Google, apparently hearing the calls and cries of these gurus, announced in 2011 the launch of something new: Google+. Maybe the average streamer doesn’t know Google+ but it was promised to be simple, elegant, and pure. You know, like Facebook used to be. Only with this platform, you have the POWER OF GOOGLE behind it. Full integration with Google’s Search engine, YouTube, GoogleDocs, and other cool products. The potential of this new social media avenue was limitless.
And then something incredible and unexpected happened a month after this new platform launched. One of social media’s leading voices announced he was officially leaving Facebook, naming Google+ his platform of choice. Thus began a “great exodus” and what many believed would be “the end of Facebook as a platform.”
That was 2011. And I was there, watching Profile Pictures change to announcements of “I have moved to G+” and listening to proclamations of Facebook going the way of MySpace. (Yes. MySpace. I’ve been at this for that long.)
Jump to today…
Facebook is still here (all things withstanding) while G+ continues to limp and stagger under the weight of spambots and self-proclaimed experts who know just as much about the digital landscape as they do about social media…which is why they are on G+. Oh yeah, and Google has been threatening to pull the plug on it for years, turning the platform into some kind of macabre death watch. When they finally disconnect the service, it may be regarded more as a relief than a surprise.
And the social media “influencer” who left Facebook? Yeah, he returned in 2015. No fanfare. No grand announcement. Just “Hi, everyone. I’m back. I’m awesome. How have you been?” as if nothing had happened. In light of how things played out, it was best for everyone to pretend nothing did.
This is why I am not worried about the future of Twitch or the well-being of America’s Top Gamer. Ninja built his name by playing Halo and has jumped to a platform run by the same studio behind it, probably being given an inside look at what is coming with Halo: Infinite. Ninja is fine. He’s made a sound business decision by partnering up with Microsoft. There is truly only one Ninja. He will be missed but is only a few clicks away. As for Twitch, with the backing of Amazon and other prominent streamers in their ranks, the void left behind by Blevins will be taken care of.
That doesn’t mean Twitch is completely off the hook.
The past two weeks have been rough for Twitch, ranging from this…
…to open discussions from streamers of all standings seriously evaluating Twitch, Mixer, and how a change could benefit them.
While the matter with Ninja’s channel has been resolved…
…one thing is crystal clear — Twitch appears to be asleep at the wheel. Mixer appears more and more inviting to streamers in how they handle online bullies and how supportive the audiences are to new talent. Mixer is hardly perfect, especially for streamers of a specific body type; but they are setting what looks to be a welcoming stage for anyone wanting to take a step into their spotlight. If Twitch does not take a moment, listen to their community, ask “How can we make things better?” and strive to do so, the platform could find itself sinking like a digital Titanic. Nothing is ever too big to falter. Right now, it is up to Twitch to offer their partners and affiliates solid reasons for staying with them. As Twitch is an arm of Amazon, there is no reason for them to fail in this. Still, you cannot deny that presently, a move to Mixer is happening. Will this digital migration be another Google+ or something different?
Expect a follow-up with me after TwitchCon 2019. Looks like this will be an event to watch. Closely.