The Twitch leak from 4chan confirmed what a lot of people already know: The majority of the platform’s most successful content creators are men. But what’s shocking is the disparity. Out of the top 100 creators, only three of them are women. Only one of them is a woman of color.
This morning, an anonymous hacker leaked a massive 125GB archive purportedly filled with source code for Twitch’s website and services, its client apps for various consoles, its Amazon cloud-based services, various proprietary SDKs, other services Twitch owns, tools used by its security operations center, and even for an “unreleased Steam competitor from Amazon Game Studios.” Among all the source code there’s seemingly also information about the income of certain individual streamers. Twitch confirmed the validity of this leak a few hours ago.
One unverified list of Twitch payouts, screenshotted by a Twitter user, seems to show how much income the site’s top 100 streamers have earned since October 2019. According to the figures, Twitch’s top-earning streamers are overwhelmingly male. The top spot is occupied by a tabletop role-playing collective with around $9.6M in income, followed by a male Overwatch streamer at around $8.4M. These supposed figures do not account for sponsorships and other methods through which streamers typically earn revenue.
But the highest-ranking female streamers are far further down the list, starting with Valorant streamer Pokimane at 39th place, cosplayer Amouranth at 48th, and music streamer Sintica at 71st. Excluding streams that are run by multiple people (such as Critical Role), there are no women in the top third of top-earning Twitch content creators. In spite of the complaints about the “hot tub meta,” “titty streamers,” and how some male streamers perceive that female streamers are stealing views from men, the numbers show that only a small percentage of women are among the ranks of Twitch’s highest-earning content creators.
Mind, the millions that these top streamers rake in is still a lot of money. But the large disparity between the ratio of high-earning male streamers to female streamers stands as further proof that Twitch has not done enough to support women and other marginalized streamers on its platform.
Many women who stream on Twitch are also marginalized on the basis of race and sexual orientation. Pokimane is the only woman of color who made the top earner list. Many smaller streamers struggle with staying safe on the platform. While Twitch rolled out identity-based tags this May to help with discoverability, it didn’t solve the toxicity against marginalized streamers on the platform.
This August, there was an influx of hate raids against queer streamers and streamers of color. Several streamers participated in a Twitch boycott under the #TwitchDoBetter hashtag to protest these hate raids.
The reputed lack of women and PoC among Twitch’s top earners comes as no surprise to Vanessa Brasfield, a Black Twitch streamer known as PleasantlyTwstd. She tweeted:
All that energy we spend pissing and crying about how women were “making a dangerous precedent” amidst incels shouting “titty streamers” and they’re not even in the same grouping for payouts. Find the Black person on [the top earners list] while you’re at it.