As marginalized creators boycott Twitch for a day, well-off white guys continue to leave for lucrative deals with its chief competitor, YouTube. Earlier this week, it was Ben “DrLupo” Lupo. Today, as the #ADayOffTwitch campaign is in full swing, it’s Tim “TimTheTatman” Betar, who announced on Twitter that he’ll be streaming exclusively on YouTube Gaming.
Betar, who has 7 million followers on Twitch, is one of the streaming platform’s biggest stars. Last August, he made waves for being exceptionally dogshit at Fall Guys, the pastel-colored platformer royale. Despite repeated attempts, it took him eight days to win a match. At the height of the stream in which he finally nabbed a crown, more than 250,000 viewers tuned in concurrently.
“It’s been great to see all that TimTheTatman has achieved since being partnered in 2012 on Twitch, whether it was marrying the love of his life and welcoming an heir to the Tatman throne, or the trials and tribulations of achieving his first Fall Guys crown. It’s been a pleasure being part of Tim’s community, and we are proud of everything he has done for gaming,” a Twitch spokesperson told Kotaku in a statement.
Betar currently has 3.83 million subscribers on YouTube. Lupo, who first became famous for streaming Fortnite, will forgo his 4.5 million Twitch followers. He currently has just under 1.8 million subscribers on YouTube.
These guys are jumping from Twitch to YouTube because of reasons as old as capitalism: time and money.
Lupo told The Washington Post this week that, as a result of his deal with YouTube, he’s now “secure for life.” He also said the deal will give him more flexibility to spend time with his family. Betar, meanwhile, didn’t explicitly comment on specific financials, but noted in an interview with Insider that streaming on YouTube will allow him, like Lupo, to spend more time with family.
Now, this isn’t to point the finger at Betar, Lupo, or anyone else who’s leapt—or will leap—at the chance to work fewer hours for more money. Streaming, despite any on-paper appearances, isn’t an easy job. You’re not just “playing games for fun.” You’re on camera eight, nine, twelve hours a day. You’re constantly “on.” If you take a couple hours off, your numbers take a hit, which means your paycheck does, too. In some cases, as with the popular oddball streamer CodeMiko, you’re putting on somewhat of an act. The toll all this pressure enacts on the mental health of creators big and small is nothing to sneeze at. So you really can’t blame these guys on an individual level.
But it’s hard not to point a finger at the institutional forces at play. This week, two white men with prominent followings on a major platform left that platform for another major platform, which presumably has greener pastures.
Meanwhile, Twitch continues to drop the ball when it comes to protecting its queer streamers and streamers of color.
Recently, hate raids—coordinated harassment campaigns in which users flood a live stream en masse, typically hurling slurs, insults, and derogatory comments—have proliferated. Since the bar for making a new Twitch account is lower than the basement, users can easily return to any stream they’ve been banned from. On top of all of this, Twitch takes what some streamers say is an unfair cut of subscription revenue, splitting it right down the middle. (Streamers told Kotaku a 70/30 split would be more reasonable.)
As The Washington Post detailed in an extensive report last month, these hate raids, most of which are organized in clandestine Discord servers, are only getting worse. So, creators have since rallied, and have spent today off the platform—no streaming, no viewing, no logging into chat—in an effort to urge Twitch to offer better protection tools.
But tomorrow they’ll come back. They’ll have to. That’s where the paycheck is.
Right now, it’s unclear what impact #ADayOffTwitch will have on Twitch’s bottom line, or if it’ll spur the company into action. Twitch observer Zach Bussey noted on Twitter that, while numbers are preliminary, today’s seen about 5,000 fewer streamers and 500,000 fewer viewers than usual—not exactly earth-shaking. Still, the campaign is no doubt driving the conversation. As Kotaku traitor Nathan Grayson pointed out, #ADayOffTwitch is trending on Twitter with more than 105,000 tweets—a whopping tenfold over YouTube Gaming, which is trending but is doing so with markedly less steam. It’s impossible to miss this moment.
I guess—and I’m sincerely sorry it’s taken me so long to get to the goddamned point—I’m just wondering why Betar couldn’t have waited one more day.