We all need a change of scenery sometimes. Been in a job too long and are bored of staring at the same walls day in day out? Haven’t been on holiday in years and are finding your house is becoming a prison with a kitchen and central heating? It’s pretty reasonable to need to get away from all that and do something new. The world’s biggest Fortnite streamer has felt the same way too and decided to jump ship from the platform that made his name. So what’s all the fuss about?
Richard Tyler Blevins began streaming on Twitch around 2011 having been a competitive Halo 3 player – you know, that massive Microsoft franchise? Worth remembering that. Jumping between H1Z1 and PUBG over several years, it was only when he started streaming Fortnite Battle Royale from late 2017 did his status skyrocket.
From an already-significant Twitch following of around 500,000, in six months that jumped to over 2 million, leading to breaking all kinds of Twitch records. He broke the record for concurrent viewership during a stream when he played Fortnite with Drake, and then a month later broke it AGAIN during his own event Ninja Vegas 2018.
So it came as something of a shock when its was announced in August of this year that Ninja would exclusively be streaming on competitor streaming service Mixer, cutting ties completely with the platform that made him a superstar. Just why was he making this decision?
Well remember how I said that Ninja started as playing Halo? Well Microsoft also happen to own Mixer, the very platform he’s now working with. This cannot be a coincidence. Halo Infinite is scheduled for release next year to coincide with the launch of the new Xbox, and having the world’s biggest streamer on their site to promote the game - and the console - is a no brainer.
Added to that, Twitch’s reputation has taken a bit of a hit in recent times. Top streamers being accused of racist and homophobic language, takedowns of streams on false copyright grounds, and the literal ‘swatting’ of streamers by sending SWAT teams to their houses have all damaged the reputation of the world’s top streaming site.
To many gamers, the platform has lost sight of what it was built for back in the days when it was called Justin.tv. Rather than being a forum for the gaming community to come together and celebrate the medium, it’s now focused on a few top streamers garnering all the profit, female streamers using it as a camming site, and corporations advertising their latest products through influencers. It’s hard to imagine this has gone unnoticed by the once King of Twitch.
So now Ninja is now on Mixer, and shaking up the established order for online streaming. Whether for the better of worse remains to be seen, but the real winners here surely are Microsoft, who have nabbed one of the biggest gaming influences on the planet in the prime of his career. Meanwhile for Twitch, they’ve lost one of their biggest players, and need to get their reputation back on track, or risk losing further ground in this new battle for streaming supremacy.