New Twitch Prime members will no longer have access to ad-free viewing after September 14, the streaming platform Twitch announced today. Existing subscribers will still be able to watch streams uninterrupted until their next renewal date, at which point the ads will be inescapable for anyone who doesn’t sign back up for the site’s old premium service, Twitch Turbo.
“As we have continued to add value to Twitch Prime, we have also re-evaluated some of the existing Twitch Prime benefits,” reads a new blog post over on Twitch. The company explained the move by saying it would be better for independent creators:
“Advertising is an important source of support for the creators who make Twitch possible. This change will strengthen and expand that advertising opportunity for creators so they can get more support from their viewers for doing what they love. We want Twitch to remain a place where anyone can enjoy one-of-a-kind interactive entertainment, and ads allow us to continue making Twitch the best place for creators to build communities around the things they love and make money doing it.”
Twitch announced ad-free viewing streaming via Twitch Prime back in 2016, previously a perk exclusive to Twitch Turbo, an $8-a-month holdover from before Amazon purchased it. Two years later the company is effectively reversing course. While Twitch Prime will still give away indie games to subscribers each month and access to special emotes, the key value—watching Twitch without ads—has been removed. Despite Twitch’s official explanation, it’s unclear why exactly beyond being an easy way to boost revenue. As previously noted on the Twitch Prime Guide webpage, even though Prime viewers weren’t actually seeing ads, creators were still getting credit for the impressions as if they had. Twitch did not immediately respond to a request by Kotaku for comment clarifying this point.
Along with that bad news, Amazon also announced that Prime members will no longer get 20% discounts off pre-ordered new game releases either. Instead, beginning April 28, “Prime members will now get a $10 Amazon promotional credit when pre-ordering select games” that can be used on “almost anything” Amazon sells. This move comes on the back of other retailers, namely Best Buy and Gamestop, canceling their own premium discount programs.
Like most people, I suspect, I have Twitch Prime because I have Amazon Prime. Like Amazon’s movie and TV streaming service and two-day shipping, the benefits of Twitch Prime are all wrapped up within the same $120 a year subscription. Now that those benefits being slashed, specifically in the area of gaming, Prime feels like more of a luxury than anything else.