Twitch Vs. Capitalism: How Twitch Could Ultimately Destroy Itself
Gaming|Jul 19, 2022

Twitch Vs. Capitalism: How Twitch Could Ultimately Destroy Itself

Surviving On Twitch Is A Fraught Prospect Even For The Most Dedicated Of Streamers.
Ian Miles Cheong

Surviving on Twitch is a fraught prospect even for the most dedicated of streamers. Not only does a streamer have to compete against others who play the same video games, streamers now find themselves competing against content creators from a whole other league – sex workers. 

Once touted as a platform for gamers to livestream their hobby and socialise with other geeks, Twitch has strayed far from its original purpose. Having diversified its reach outside of gaming, Twitch is now at a crossroads. To whom does it cater, and how can it appeal to one audience without alienating the others? 

The platform’s rapid descent into smutty content comes from Amazon’s increased demands for better quarterly earnings. This much is evident with the latest development, via Bloomberg, that discussions are now underway within the company to dramatically change content monetisation – some of which may go live in just a few short months. 

One of the options being considered is a pay cut for the platform’s highest-paid partners, reducing their revenue cut from subscriptions from 70 per cent to 50 per cent, and the introduction of various ‘tiers’ of partnership with different rates and requirements – all this while partners are prohibited, via exclusivity contracts, from streaming on platforms like YouTube, TikTok and Facebook. 

Twitch’s predisposition towards earning at all costs means giving preferential treatment to ‘Twitch Thots’ – women who monetise their bodies for quick bucks – at the cost of community values. As a platform designed for minors ages 13 and up, there are next to no safeguards preventing minors from viewing adult content. If anything, it has been promoted on the main landing page of the website, with many ‘adult audience only’ streamers having links directly to their OnlyFans pages. 

The gateway of users being able to access, or promote adult content is fuelling the oversaturated meat market, which sees impressionable adolescents forming parasocial relationships with content creators, or young women selling their intimate content for as little as $7.50 a month, with the average OnlyFans users earning an average of only $145-$180 per month. 

Twitch allowing this to continue is a far cry from the wholesome video game sharing platform it started as. With the increased pressure to placate shareholders with higher quarterly earnings, Twitch has been not been impartial in regards to its content moderation, shifting their attention to woke initiatives like LGBTQ inclusivity and addressing toxicity in video games rather than facing the real issues that the platform has head-on, such as abuse and exploitation of its users and content creators. 

It’s almost as if Twitch is keen on creating new problems, or addressing non-existent ones, instead of dealing with the problems it already has. 

Twitch’s issues have not gone unnoticed – with the looming revenue cuts, the platform’s top content creators are going to raise a fuss, and are very likely to look to greener pastures, like YouTube, which already has strict content moderation in place to prevent the sexual content from being pushed on minors. 

Parents, too, are keeping a closer eye on what their kids are doing, especially with revelations that minors are being groomed online by online influencers for sexual gratification or transgender ideology. These are developments that will undoubtedly put a damper on Twitch’s profit margins, which have been largely driven by its inconsistent moderation standards. 

In the pursuit of profit, Twitch could ultimately destroy itself. 

While it’s hard for an audience of mostly teenagers to deny the atavistic lure of scantily clad women who flaunt their sexuality, the platform itself need not dismantle its core audience by attempting to cater to every fan base for the naked pursuit of profit. 

Twitch must decide what its core values are in order to determine what the platform will look like in a decade – assuming it isn’t supplanted by more focused alternatives in the not-too-distant future.