Yesterday a huge data leak from live streaming platform Twitch.tv was posted by an anonymous user on the controversial internet forum 4chan. Twitch hosts millions of users who stream their daily activities to a combined audience of millions.
The platform is primarily used to stream computer game-related content, though users can stream almost anything from podcasts to costume design, to music rehearsals and beach trips.
While the full impact of the leak is unclear, it appears to include earnings from at least the top few thousand streamers, information about new software Twitch, password and security data for streamers and viewers, and even more. That includes the source code for Twitch. Forum.
It may be the largest and most widespread data leak on any major Internet platform in history – amounting to about 125 gigabytes of data – but what will it mean for streamers, viewers, and Twitch?
I’ve researched Twitch for the past six years, understanding its streamers, audience, culture, and economics. And although we have yet to uncover some details about the leak – such as who is behind it and how the data was obtained – five potential implications stand out.
1) This leak will certainly shake trust in Twitch, though not likely to destroy it completely. While some streamers may not publicly express much dismay or dismay, and simply change their password and move on, many will certainly be more vocal.
Many users will now be concerned about account security risks. Twitch markets itself on the basis of trust and relative openness, selling the idea that streamers and viewers are interacting with friends, not a company. With massive data leaks, this message has now been seriously challenged.
2) Leaks will likely accelerate the draw of other streaming platforms. Twitch, a short-lived competitor to Mixer, shut down last year. Mixer had acquired a number of superstar streamers, but failed to build the community found on Twitch.
But if Twitch no longer feels safe, or if other platforms may offer more attractive terms, how many streamers might decide to opt for an alternative, such as YouTube Gaming?
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3) The economy of Twitch is based on giving viewers money to streamers. These are mostly donations (one-time payments) or subscriptions (monthly payments). As such, most streamers make most of their money from dedicated fans through several small payments.
Although everyone knew that top streamers make substantial incomes, the exact scale of this is perhaps only now becoming clear to many viewers. The top dozen streamers can bring in millions of dollars a year, while at least hundreds of others collect six-figure paychecks.
That’s why Twitch fans can turn down their support of people who are already comfortably millionaires. On a large scale, the combined economic effects can be significant. Twitch takes about half of subscription payments, and a smaller portion of donations, so less income for streamers also means less income for the platform.
4) Leaks suggest that Twitch is developing or was developing a competitor to Steam, the major gaming platform owned by Valve Corporation. Steam is currently the center of most PC gaming, but has been criticized for monopolistic practices and challenged by competitors such as the Epic Games Store and itch.io.
The new information in the leak could give Valve a significant advantage in countering Twitch’s offering even before it’s launched. In turn, could Twitch abandon the project altogether, or do the opposite and accelerate its release because there is no time to lose? Either way, it will affect the distribution and consumption of games for years to come.
5) Lastly, this leak has probably been a serious wake-up call for all major digital platforms. Twitch is owned by Amazon, one of the largest and most influential Internet companies on the planet. Still, it appears to be a complete surprise with this leak.
What went wrong with Amazon or Twitch’s multi-billion dollar system to allow such an event? Here’s what will likely be a serious reckoning for the company, and one that comes on the heels of other recent controversies surrounding Facebook, Twitter, OnlyFan, and other Internet giants whose growth and profitability are driven by user-generated content. Is.
Despite all of the above, it is far from a knock-out blow for Twitch. The platform dominates the live streaming space in most countries and has already seen competitors.
Twitch is also abuzz with systems designed to boost user retention and discourage both streamers and viewers from visiting other websites. So (game) live streaming culture and practice is similar to Twitch culture and practice, and it gives the platform a strong existing advantage.
Still, precisely because Twitch has become such a central part of gaming culture, it cannot take such an attack lightly. It remains to be seen what the leaks will mean for gaming, gamers, live streaming and digital platforms in the coming months and years.
What is certain is that the allure of Twitch becomes hit after hit — with sexism, so-called “hate raids” and now a huge data leak — the platform may well have to fight for the future of live streaming dominance, a point. But, quietly, he appeared reassured.
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