Facebook Gaming is far from the biggest video game streaming platform out there, but it has at least shown a tendency to put its money where its mouth is—a practice Twitch and other industry leaders could learn from. Today, Facebook announced a program to aid Black creators in their pursuit of full-time streaming careers.
The Black Gaming Creator Program will dedicate $10 million over the next two years to Black creators. It will give select applicants partner status, mentorship from “established” creators, early access to new features, monetization options, and guaranteed monthly pay. While Facebook is not discussing specifics, it did tell The Verge that pay will vary based on “the quality of [streamers’] content and the scale of their audience.”
In a short video, Twitch-turned-Facebook streamer KingRichard elaborated on the program’s goals. “This program is designed to help people make the transition into full-time streaming, which is something that’s extremely hard,” he said. In a statement sent to Kotaku by Facebook, he added that he personally managed to become a full-time streamer “with the support of my family and my community,” but that “having a huge company like [Facebook] supporting us is going to open the doors up for future success.”
The program comes on the heels of Facebook’s $200 million commitment to supporting Black-owned organizations over the summer—a time period marked by protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of police. At the time, many Twitch streamers who previously stayed mum about subjects that could be construed as “political” spoke out in support of their Black colleagues, and some perennially underappreciated Black streamers finally received long-overdue attention.
However, the streaming landscape remains overwhelmingly white, with 2018 data showing that 71.5% of streamers and viewers on Twitch, far and away the biggest streaming platform, identify as white. And while Twitch publicly partnered two Black streamers during last month’s streamed GlitchCon event, that did little to offset years of racist emote issues (which once again reared their ugly head during the aforementioned GlitchCon partnership segment) or Twitch’s own gaffes, like a now-pulled Black Lives Matter video that mostly depicted white streamers. In addition, one of the two newly partnered Black streamers, ZombaeKillz, went on to become the victim of a targeted harassment campaign not long after, something Twitch has not spoken out against or acknowledged.
“In an official capacity, nope [Twitch hasn’t done anything],” ZombaeKillz told Kotaku in a DM. “A staffer (head of diversity and inclusion) just told me to up my mod settings and expressed they were sad it was happening to me.”
Facebook’s program, if nothing else, guarantees material benefits, which will not Solve Racism or catapult Black streamers into the spotlight, but will at least give a few a possible foothold from which to begin their climb.