Twitch stripped Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek of his verified partner badge and his channel stopped showing up in the site’s search after the popular streamer and former Counter-Strike: Global Offensive pro announced yesterday that he was leaving the platform for Mixer.
In a vacuum, those two things wouldn’t necessarily mean much because a dormant channel doesn’t need to be promoted in search. Applied to a prominent streamer who left the platform the day before, however, it becomes a sign of how Twitch thinks about its biggest personalities. Leaving, to Twitch, seems to mean something like a betrayal. Twitch’s partner badge is one of the harder verifications to get online, and it denotes a level of status on the site. Grzesiek’s announcement was instantly viral and led tens of thousands to the chat on his empty Mixer page.
A spokesperson for Twitch told The Verge that Grzesiek disappearing from search was the result of a bug that happened to also hide a number of different streamers, though it did not say who else was hidden. Twitch said it was working to resolve the issue, and Shroud began surfacing in search results again around 5PM ET on Friday after being absent for about a full day.
This isn’t the first time that Twitch has seemingly made an aggressive move toward a streamer who quit the platform. That honor goes to Tyler “Ninja” Blevins who left Twitch for Mixer in August. Within hours of his departure, Twitch revoked his partner status, and a couple of weeks later, it accidentally ran porn on his dormant channel. It’s still one of the most popular on the platform; currently, Blevins’ channel has 14.6 million followers, even though he’s exclusively streaming on Mixer.
Blevins is the most popular gamer in the world, and his departure signaled that live-streaming had grown up. Attracting top talent is big business now. The deals that streamers like Blevins are cutting with platforms are worth millions.
The deals that streamers like Blevins are cutting with platforms are worth millions
Twitch is still the leader in the live-streaming space, but there’s now serious competition for big names and their audiences. It’s also still a compelling place for streamers — Nick “Nick Eh 30” Amyoony joined the platform from YouTube just a few weeks after Blevins left it.
It’s unclear where Twitch will go from here. My guess is that we’re going to see more big-name streamers move onto the platform via its streamer acquisition team, and I think Twitch is going to begin flexing more of its Amazon muscle. We’ll probably see more features like Watch Parties, which allow certain streamers to broadcast Amazon Prime content to their viewers. The next big battleground in the live-streaming wars is over social broadcasting rights, and Amazon has a built-in advantage, thanks to its wealth of content.
Twitch could also start to extend more of the features partners get to its community of affiliates, the people who stream to small-scale communities. (Features like earning revenue from ads, which had previously been the strict provenance of partners, have recently been rolled out to affiliates too.) The reason would be to keep smaller broadcasters — who make up the majority of the Twitch community — from leaving their platform for another, smaller one where they might have an easier time building an audience. Discovery is easier when there’s a lower ratio of noise to signal.
Update October 25th, 5:00PM ET: Twitch returned a request for comment, saying that Grzesiek was hidden in search because of a bug that also happened to hide a number of other streamers.