Over the past week Twitch has been rolling out their new ad system. The new system has drawn criticism from viewers and content creators over the fact that the ads will be inserted into streams at various points throughout and viewers will be unable to skip them. The streamer has no control over when and how these ads play and there is no way for streamers to toggle them on or off.
As this new system has rolled out users have found themselves inundated with advertisements. Twitch streamer Asmongold Tweeted at Twitch Support reporting that many of his users were experiencing ads spammed at rates as high as over 20 ads over a 3-hour period.
The response from Twitch Support encouraged users to disable all third-party extensions. This confirmed the concerns that many users had that Twitch was intentionally spamming ads on users that have any third-party extensions in order to discourage their use.
This practice is hurtful to both the consumers and to smaller streamers. The continue flooding of unscheduled ads causes users to miss parts of the stream, many time crucial moments. This cause viewers to drop off, and while larger streamers can weather that loss, it throttles the viewership and kills off smaller streamers who are already struggling to etch out an audience in a twitch marketplace that will always push and advertise larger and connected streamers, and even celebrities and now politicians, over the small independent streamers.
2020 has been a year of troubled public relations from the Amazon-owned streaming platform. Throughout the year there have been multiple controversies involving Twitch staff not enforcing their rules and policies when they are broken by popular streamers such as Alinity and Pokimane who both violated twitch’s policies regarding displaying nudity or sexual content on stream.
In May Twitch announced the formation of a trust and safety user advisory council that included a member that was actively antagonizing the gaming community and promising to outwardly abuse any power they have.
In June Twitch banned DrDisrespect, the top streamer on the platform, and gave no reason to the audience or to the streamer himself. It is suspected that the ban was carried out in order to remove the streamer and “clean up” Twitch’s image to attract more mainstream advertisers.
Later in June the company would issue a temporary ban on the Twitch account of the President of the United State of America citing hateful conduct.
Later that Month they would again opt not to punish the streamer Pokimane for violating their harassment policy when she held a stream where she sent her followers after the YouTuber It’sAGundam.
In October when the American politicians AOC, and Ilan Omar held a Twitch stream of the popular game Among Us with the goal of campaigning for votes. The Twitch platform boosted that stream and gave the brand-new accounts all of the privileges that regular uses have to earn over time. Adding to the controversial nature of the stream was the fact that the stream was supported by Pokimane, who is the face of Twitch, in her capacity as a streamer and number-one partner of Twitch. The stream also included the streamer Hasan who infamously said last year that America “deserved” the September 11th terrorist attacks that killed 3000 people, Hasan did not face any discipline under Twitch’s hateful conduct policy for this statements.
This new advertising policy appears to be the latest in a long line of events that put on full display for Twitch’s failings when it comes to treating the gaming community with respect. From the broken and unevenly applied rules, to the utter disregard for the welfare of smaller streamers, and the overall viewer base.
If Twitch is to continue on this path without regard for the impacts these decisions have on the community, it is just a matter of time before that community migrates to platforms that are at least marginally better. YouTube and Facebook have been making a strong effort to break into the live-streaming market, and they are laying in wait ready to catch the spillover of users that quit Twitch over their growing anti-consumer bend that is making YouTube and Facebook Gaming look better by comparison.