Twitch announces testing of new boost feature, faces criticism



A screenshot from a recent Twitch stream, showing someone buying a stream boost as Twitch employees djWHEAT and Jacob Rosok discuss the footage.

Screenshot: Twitch / Kotaku

Yesterday, Twitch announced that it would be testing a new feature that allows streamers and their audiences to pay for increased visibility. Currently, only a number of accounts participating in Twitch’s research initiative have access to the feature. Despite this, streamers are, unsurprisingly, not very happy with that decision.

“Boosting” means that Twitch will recommend the feed to more users. The number of additional users is determined by the number of boosts purchased by the streamer and their community. However, these recommendations are unlikely to translate directly to viewers. For example, 3,000 recommendations won’t increase a channel’s viewership from 50 to 3,050 because not all of those viewers will actually start watching, but this is a drastic change in who will. visible on the platform.

Overly generous reading of this is that Twitch is trying to give smaller content creators more opportunities to be discovered. Building an audience on Twitch, like any creative field, is as much about timing and luck as it is about quality. This can be deeply frustrating, especially for dedicated creators who feel left out of standard Twitch algorithms.

This is hard to accept at first glance as the move will undoubtedly benefit streamers who are already a little established more than small designers. If a streamer’s bank account and audience are already large, this feature will only give resourceful streamers more opportunities to dominate the platform.

Others have called the “booster” of exploitation and “pay-to-win”, likening functionality to viewbotting. Viewbotting, which is widely despised in the world of online content creation and community building, involves hiring a farm of servers to visit a website in droves in order to increase its popularity. The goal is either to use those paid viewers as a kickstarter for a real community, as people are drawn to the supposed existing popularity, or to better convince advertisers that you are worth working with. He usually fails either way and is notorious for his cheesy behavior. It’s also one of the fastest ways to permanently undermine your credibility in online spaces.

Whether Twitch users see his intent as an exploitative takeover or an attempt to upend how Discovery works on Twitch doesn’t really matter. Either way, the movement is still a band-aid on one of the gaping wounds on its platform. Little streamers think they don’t have enough luck with Twitch’s algorithm, and when and who is growing up wanting to play the lottery. Although there are highlights for some creators, wayneradioTV’s streamer “Half-life VR but AI is self-aware the series comes to mind, wild creativity isn’t often rewarded on Twitch. From Twitch’s perspective, boosting is one way to solve this problem. But from the perspective of many streamers, it will only make matters worse.

From implementation to rationale, all of this combine into an extremely bad look for Twitch, and if “booster” leaves testing it could signal a drastic change in how the platform works.



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