Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, the biggest streamer ever, has today announced his intention to leave the platform in favor of Microsoft’s Mixer. Twitch is far and away the biggest video game streaming platform on the internet, claiming 72 percent of all hours watched according to . Mixer, by comparison, owns 3 percent, which is approximately 112 million viewership hours this most recent quarter. is owned by following an , back when Mixer was called Beam. Interestingly enough, won the Disrupt NY Battlefield competition in 2016. Twitch offered this statement to the : We’ve loved watching Ninja on Twitch over the years and are proud of all that he’s accomplished for himself and his family, and the gaming community. We wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors. Surprisingly quickly, Twitch took away Ninja’s ‘Partnered’ check mark, the Twitch equivalent of a verified blue tick. Damn they snagged this mans checkmark QUICK — 100T Mako (@Mako) Ninja announced the news via video: The announcement is very light on reasons why Ninja might have moved from his longtime home at Twitch over to Microsoft. It’s possible (and likely?) that Mixer offered the streaming star an enormous amount of money to make the move, which could signal the beginning of a new wave of payouts for mega streaming stars — not unlike the current NBA free agency bonanza, which has seen the migration of superstars to marquee franchises in order to form basketball equivalents of supergroups. It’s also worth wondering who reigns supreme in this equation: players or platforms? Luckily, we’ll find out quickly as the video game streaming space sees its biggest talent shakeup since the industry’s inception.
Tyler “Ninja” Blevins. (Amazon Photo) It’s a huge day for Microsoft’s Mixer streaming platform. Esports star Tyler Blevins, a.k.a. “Ninja,” announced Thursday that he will stream exclusively on Mixer. Blevins had previously streamed on Twitch, the most popular streaming platform that Amazon acquired in 2014. The next chapter, — Ninja (@Ninja) Story developing…
has an account hacking problem. After the breach of popular browser game Town of Salem in January, some 7.8 million stolen passwords quickly became the weakest link not only for the game but gamers’ other accounts. The passwords were stored using a long-deprecated scrambling algorithm, making them easily cracked. It didn’t take long for security researcher and gamer to see the aftermath. In the weeks following, the for Amazon-owned game streaming site Twitch — of which Jakubowski is a moderator — was flooded with complaints about account hijacks. One after the other, users said their accounts had been hacked. Many of the hijacked accounts had used their Town of Salem password for their Twitch account. Jakubowski blamed the attacks on automated account takeovers — bots that cycle through password lists stolen from breached sites, including Town of Salem. “Twitch knows it’s a problem — but this has been going on for months and there’s no end in sight,” Jakubowski told TechCrunch. Credential stuffing is a security problem that requires participation from both tech companies and their users. Hackers take lists of usernames and passwords from other breached sites and brute-force their way into other accounts. Customers of and have in recent months complained of account breaches, but have denied their systems have been hacked, offered little help to their users or shown any effort to bolster their security, and instead washed their hands of any responsibility. Jakubowski, working with fellow security researcher , said Twitch no longer accepting email addresses to log in and incentivizing users to set up two-factor authentication would all but eliminate the problem. The Russia connection In out Tuesday, Jakubowski and Xmas said Russian hackers are a likely culprit. The researchers found attackers would run massive lists of stolen credentials against Twitch’s login systems using widely available automation tools. With no discernible system to prevent automated logins, the attackers can hack into Twitch accounts at speed. Once logged in, the attackers then change the password to gain persistent access to the account. Even if they’re caught, some users are claiming a turnaround time of four weeks for Twitch support to get their accounts back. On the accounts with a stored stored payment card — or an associated Amazon Prime membership — the attackers follow streaming channels run by the attackers or pay for for a small fee, which Twitch takes a cut. Twitch also has its own virtual currency — bits — to help streamers solicit donations, which can be abused by the attackers to funnel funds into their coffers. When the attacker’s streaming account hits the payout limit, the attacker cashes out. The researchers said the attackers stream prerecorded gameplay footage on their own Twitch channels, often using Russian words and names. “You’ll see these Russian accounts that will stream what appears to be old video game footage — you’ll never see a face or hear anybody talking but you’ll get tons of people subscribing and following in the channel,” said Xmas. “You’ll get people donating bits when nothing is going on in there — even when the channel isn’t streaming,” he said. This activity helps to cloak the attackers’ account takeover and pay-to-follow activity, said Xmas, but the attackers would keep the subscriber counts low enough to garner payouts from Twitch but not to draw attention. “If it’s something easy enough for [Jakubowski] to stumble across, it should be easy for Twitch to handle,” said Xmas. “But Twitch is staying silent and users are constantly being defrauded.” Two-factor all the things Twitch, unlike other sites and services with a credential stuffing problem, already lets its 15 million daily users on their accounts, putting much of the onus to stay secure on the users themselves. Twitch partners, like Jakubowski, and affiliates are required to set up two-factor on their accounts. But the researchers say Twitch should do more to incentivize ordinary users — the primary target for account hijackers and fraudsters — to secure their accounts. “I think [Twitch] doesn’t want that extra step between a valid user trying to pay for something and adding friction to that process,” said Jakubowski. “The hackers have no idea how valuable an account is until they log in. They’re just going to try everyone — and take a shotgun approach.”Matthew Jakubowski, security researcher and Twitch partner “Two-factor is important — everyone knows it’s important but users still aren’t using it because it’s inconvenient,” said Xmas. “That’s the bottom line: Twitch doesn’t want to inconvenience people because that loses Twitch money,” he said. Recognizing there was still a lack of awareness around password security and with no help from Twitch, Jakubowski and Xmas took matters into their own hands. The pair teamed up to write a comprehensive to explain why seemingly unremarkable accounts are a target for hackers, and hosted a to let users to ask questions and get instant feedback. Even during Jakubowski’s streaming sessions, he doesn’t waste a chance to warn his viewers about the security problem — often fielding other security-related questions from his fans. “Every ten minutes or so, I’ll remind people watching to set-up two factor,” he said. “The hackers have no idea how valuable an account is until they log in,” said Jakubowski. “They’re just going to try everyone — and take a shotgun approach,” he said. Xmas said users “don’t realize” how vulnerable they are. “They don’t understand why their account — which they don’t even use to stream — is desirable to hackers,” he said. “If you have a payment card associated with your account, that’s what they want.” Carrot and the stick Jakubowski said that convincing the users is the big challenge. Twitch could encourage users with free perks — like badges or emotes — costing the company nothing, the researchers said. Twitch lets users to flair their accounts. World of Warcraft maker Blizzard offers , and Epic Games similar incentives to their gamers. “Rewarding users for implementing two-factor would go a huge way,” said Xmas. “It’s incredible to see how effective that is.” The two said the company could also integrate third-party leaked credential monitoring services, like , to warn users if their passwords have been leaked or exposed. And, among other fixes, the researchers say removing two-factor by text message . Xmas, who serves as director of field engineering at anti-bot startup Kasada — earlier this year — said Twitch could invest in systems that detect bot activity to prevent automated logins. Twitch, when reached prior to publication, did not comment. Jakubowski said until Twitch acts, streamers can do their part by encouraging their viewers to switch on the security feature. “Streamers are influencers — more users are likely to switch on two-factor if they hear it from a streamer,” he said. “Getting more streamers to get on board with security will hopefully go a much longer way,” he said. Read more:
Amazon-owned game-streaming site is today publicly launching its first game. But it’s not a traditional video game — like those the site’s creators stream for their fans. Instead, the new game is called “Twitch Sings” and is a free karaoke-style experience designed for live streaming. The game, which was , includes thousands of karaoke classics that players can sing either alone or in a duet with another person. In addition, streamers can choose to sing as themselves in a live camera feed, or they can create a personalized avatar that will appear in their place. (The songs are licensed from karaoke content providers, not the major labels.) But unlike other karaoke-style apps — like TikTok or its — Twitch Sings is designed to be both live-streamed and interactive. That is, viewers are also a part of the experience as they can request songs, cheer with emotes to activate light shows and virtual ovations and send in “singing challenges” to the streamer during the performance. For example, they could challenge them to sing without the lyrics or “sing like a cat,” and other goofy stuff. “Twitch Sings unites the fun and energy of being at a live show with the boundless creativity of streamers to make an amazing shared interactive performance,” said Joel Wade, executive producer of Twitch Sings, in a statement. “Many games are made better on Twitch, but we believe there is a huge opportunity for those that are designed with streaming and audience participation at their core.” The game is designed to not only capitalize on Twitch’s live-streaming capabilities, but to also engage Twitch viewers who tune in to watch, but don’t stream themselves. More notably, it’s a means of expanding Twitch beyond gaming. This is something Twitch has attempted to do for years — back in 2015. It has , and has partnered with various media companies in order to stream marathons of fan favorites — like painting series or cooking show, for example. Its own studio has produced non-gaming shows like . Last year, Twitch with Disney Digital Network to bring some of its larger personalities over to Twitch, as well. Those efforts haven’t really helped Twitch break out with the non-gamer crowd. Karaoke may not do the trick either. In reality, this “game” is more of a test to see if Twitch can turn some of its platform features — like its chat system and custom interactive video overlays — into tools to help increase engagement among existing users and attract new ones. It still remains to be seen if and how the game actually takes off. The game was unveiled today at TwitchCon Berlin, where the company announced it had added more than 127,000 Affiliates and 3,600 new Partners in Europe since the beginning of 2018. The company also detailed a few other updates for Twitch creators, including those across payments, streaming and discovery tools. Starting Monday, April 15, Twitch will pay out in just 15 days after the close of the month, instead of 45, eligible creators that reached the $100 threshold. In May, it will make the (paid sponsorship opps) available to Partners and Affiliates in Germany, France and the U.K., and will partner Borderlands 3, Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 and Unilever, in Europe. In June, Twitch is also rolling out faster search, automated highlight reels (recaps) and the ability to sort through channels in a directory by a range of new options — including lowest to highest viewers, most recently started or suggested channels based on their viewing history. TwitchCon Europe 2019 is streaming live this weekend at
(Screenshot Via Twitch) Amazon added another goodie to Twitch Prime, a series of benefits for gamers, up to a free year of the online service for Nintendo Switch. Amazon , two years after it acquired the leading game-streaming service for close to $1 billion. Amazon Prime members and Prime Video subscribers can become Twitch Prime members by linking their accounts on Twitch. Nintendo Switch Online is the subscription service for the smash hit console that lets users play multiple player games online and access classic NES games. The cost of annual subscription to Switch Online is $20. Twitch Prime members can claim the new benefit. You can’t claim the entire year at once and first have to redeem three months free and come back to get the other nine months later. The deadline to claim the first three months Switch Online is Sept. 28, and the nine month redemption must occur by Jan. 28, 2020.
You may have forgotten about , but the company is adding an interesting new perk for Nintendo Switch owners. The company is giving out up to one year of , the subscription service that lets you play online multiplayer games and access NES games. If you’re an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscriber, you automatically become a Twitch Prime member once you — Amazon owns Twitch. Twitch Prime gives you access to free loot, such as in-game skins for Apex Legends or Call of Duty Black Ops 4, as well as free (mostly indie) games. As part of Twitch Prime, you can also subscribe to a Twitch channel for free — the streamer still gets compensated. Twitch Prime also gives your more options to customize your chat experience. Nintendo and Twitch are partnering to offer a complimentary Nintendo Switch Online subscription — it usually costs $20. But you won’t get 12 months at once. You can go to to redeem three months right now. In two months, you’ll be able to redeem another nine months. Twitch and Nintendo probably hope that you’ll forget about the second part of the perk, so don’t forget to set up a reminder. The offer expires on September 24, 2019 for the initial three months, and on January 22, 2020 for the additional nine months. The good news is that it also works if you’re already a Nintendo Switch Online subscriber. You’ll just get additional subscription time.
Twitch today the launch of a new feature called “Squad Stream,” which offers a way for up to four creators to go live and stream together within one window. The feature will allow creators to grow their communities by teaming up with others, as it gives streamers increased exposure by playing to a wider range of fans. Helping viewers find new people to follow is an area of ongoing interest for the company which has, in the past, from smaller streamers who complain they just broadcast to empty channels, and have trouble growing a fan base. To address this, Twitch today offers a feature called Raids, to grow their respective communities by driving traffic to each other’s channels. Squad Streams is an expansion on that as it’s actually allowing streamers to broadcast together. That is, instead of redirecting traffic, they’re sharing it. To participate in Squad Streams, creators can join up with one another from their dashboard by way of a new Squad Stream widget. They can then start their own squad by inviting others to join in, or they can accept an invite to join another squad. By default, any channels the streamers follow, have friended or are on the same team can send out Squad Stream invites. But this can be changed in the settings. During streams, viewers get to watch all creators in one window, which gives them different views on the action, Twitch explains. During streaming, fans can chat or cheer whoever is in the primary slot – an option they get to choose by clicking on any of the channels’ video player to make in the larger screen. Ads will play only in the primary slot, and viewership also only gets counted when a channel is in the primary slot, Twitch also notes. Unfortunately, the feature is launching first to Partners – the top-level streamers who are less in need of growing their community than smaller streamers. Twitch says this rollout strategy is due to the need for video quality options (transcodes) on the Squad Streams – an option Partners have on their streams by default. (Affiliates only receive them as they’re available, with priority access.) The video quality options allows the Squad Stream feature to display the video in the non-primary slots in a lower-quality mode, like 480p. Most streamers, however, stream in 720p or above, which is why the options are needed for Squad Stream to work, says Twitch. The company says its plan is to roll out Squad Stream to Affiliates and all other streamers in time, as it expands its transcodes capacity. Squad Stream’s launch is being kicked off by a schedule of four-person streams over the weeks ahead. (A ) Users can also look for the Squad Stream tag on the main Twitch page to find these streams.
(GeekWire File Photo) Up to four game streamers on Twitch can now broadcast their points of view within the same window thanks to a new feature from the Amazon-owned streaming leader. , the highly sought-after feature among the Twitch audience known as Squad Stream is available now to the site’s . The feature is a good way for audiences to see multiple angles of a battle royale game like Fortnite or follow along as streamers team up in cooperative games. The feature is similar to one that Microsoft’s game streaming service . Co-streaming, as Mixer calls it, was part of a series of updates that came when the service formally known as Beam was rebranded after Microsoft acquired it. for $970 million. It is the dominant outlet for game streaming — the growing entertainment form where audiences watch gamers play their favorite titles — with 15 million daily visitors and 2.2 million broadcasters on its platform,
As the , startups are looking to take advantage of the opportunity and grab a slice of the pie, and indeed create new revenue models around it entirely. , a YC-backed startup, is one of them. Camelot allows viewers to place bounties on their favorite streamers, putting a monetary value on the things they want to see on stream. This could include in-game challenges like “win with no armor,” as well as stream bounties like “Play Apex” or “add a heartbeat monitor to the stream.” When a viewer posts a bounty, other viewers can join in and contribute to the overall value, and the streamer can then choose whether or not to go through with it from an admin dashboard. Because internet platforms can often be used for evil alongside good, cofounder and CEO Jesse Zhang has thought through ways to minimize inappropriate requests. There is an option for streamers to see and approve the bounty before it’s ever made public to ensure that they avoid inappropriate propositions. Bounties are also paid for up front by viewers, and either returned if the creator declines the bounty or pushed through when the streamer completes the task, raising the barrier to entry for nefarious users. Camelot generates revenue by taking a five percent stake in every bounty completed. The platform isn’t just for streamers — YouTubers can also get in on the mix using Camelot and making asynchronous videos around each bounty. Not only does it offer a new way to generate revenue, but it also offers content creators the chance to get new insights on what their viewers want to see and what they value. Cofounder and CEO Jesse Zhang believes there is opportunity to expand to streamers and content creators outside of the gaming sphere in the future. For now, however, Camelot is working to bring on more content creators. Thus far, streamers and viewers have already come up with some interesting use cases for the product. One streamer’s audience , and one viewer of paid $100 to play against the streamer himself. Camelot declined to share how much funding it has received thus far, but did say that lead investors include Y Combinator, the Philadelphia 76ers, Soma Capital, and Plaid cofounders William Hockey and Zach Perret.
A new estimates that revenue-earning American Twitch streamers grew to nearly 9,800 in 2017 (a 59 percent increase from 2016) and made an estimated $87.1 million (representing a 30 percent YOY increase). is one of the fastest-growing platforms for American content creators. In terms of year over year growth in number of creators themselves, Twitch falls just behind Instagram and YouTube, and ranks second behind Instagram in YOY revenue growth for those creators. (Fun Fact: Instagram’s creator-based revenue growth grew nearly 50 percent from 2016 to 2017 to $460 million, according to the study.) Recreate Coalition says these numbers are very conservative based on the methodology of the study and the fact that it’s limited to the U.S. The growth of Twitch is predicated on a few obvious trends, as well as a very nuanced relationship between a streamer and his or her respective audience. In the case of the former, “live” digital experiences continue to be a fascination for startups and consumers alike. While Twitch and YouTube have offered live broadcasts for a while, social media companies have followed along with their own live-streaming products. In fact, Betaworks dedicated a season of its accelerator program to “live” startups, calling the program . With regards to the latter, things get more interesting. The relationship between a viewer and a streamer is similar to our relationships with other famous celebrities, artists and athletes, but puts the viewer far closer to the action. Streamers don’t just pop up briefly in articles, TV interviews or on Twitter or Instagram. They spend hours and hours each day just sitting there, doing whatever it is they do on stream and chatting with their viewers. You can get to know their personality, talk to them and they talk back to you! It’s a bizarre combination that has proven financially fruitful for these streamers, especially at a time when the gaming industry itself is growing by for the . A tier of elite, hyper-popular streamers such as Shroud, DrDisrespect, Dakotaz and of course Ninja are leading the way for others as they continue to gain followers. In fact, Ninja just with Wicked Cool Toys to introduce to the market a line of actual toys. Ninja himself in 2018. But as the gaming world explores new genres and esports grow, there seems to be plenty of room for streamers to make a name (and a pretty penny) for themselves. Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this post included a few too many zeroes, stating that U.S. Twitch streamers made $87 billion instead of $87 million. It has been corrected for accuracy with my apologies.