The livestream platform wars were heating up already over the Mixer buyouts of Tyler “Ninja” Blevins and Michael “shroud” Grzesiek. Now, YouTube has staged their own front in the Fortnite streamer buyout battle — by picking up Jack “CouRage” Dunlop.
The popular Twitch streamer, formerly a popular Call of Duty esports caster, announced in a humorous skit he’ll be leaving Twitch in order to stream and produce content exclusively for YouTube. He’s leaving behind 2.1 million Twitch followers and over 8,700 paid Subscribers, at least $21k/month. However, he’s already on YouTube where he uploads highlights and updates. This account already accumulated over 1.8 million subscribers, and he’ll surely be seeing many of them during his new live streams on the platform.
Dunlop won’t be flailing in new waters with this buyout. He’s part of 100 Thieves, an esports lifestyle company that sponsors teams and players across a number of games. 100T is primarily focused on content that appeals to those with a gamer identity, with entertaining “authentic” gamer content, which is where Dunlop squarely lands. It’s likely that he’ll double down on this sort of content during the switch.
The Way To Go
For several years, YouTube has tried to become a presence in the gaming scene. The site has been a hotspot for “nerd” content for over a decade — not just gaming, but comics, anime, science fiction and more. While gaming sites hosted and embedded their own videos, the “let’s play” genre was democratized on YouTube, and everyday gamers became celebrities. Now, as Youtube capitalizes on its near-monopoly on video, YouTube pays particular mind to its gaming sect. It has a “Gaming” section now, with dedicated staff and a Twitter page. There used to be a dedicated app as well, but support was dropped in May.
Now, sites like Mixer and Twitch show that games livestreaming isn’t just “a way” to go. It’s the way to go. Highlight videos from all of these sites pop up and spread on Instagram and Twitter, turning online celebrities into household names.
In regard to livestreaming, YouTube has had some hitches early on in its service. Nowadays, when esports and other gaming events are streamed, a common question is: “Will this be on YouTube?” On one hand, YouTube lacks the mass-mentality community of Twitch’s chat feature. On the other, YouTube has an edge in regards to quality and real-time rewinding, with options to return to “live.”
Now, YouTube has leaned into the features that made other sites appealing to regular streamers. Like Twitch or Mixer, they have their own paid “subscription” feature and emotes for monetized creators, plus direct merchandise sales.
Reasons To Switch
Because of Twitch’s prominence, streamers primarily stay on that platform, regardless of “perks” on others. So streamers such as YouTube, Mixer and even Facebook Gaming have attempted exclusivity deals with streamers and event organizers in order to attempt mass migrations.
There are a variety of reasons to switch, surface-level perks aside. Jessica Belvins, wife of Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, recently told Business Insider that they felt Twitch “did not listen” to “Team Ninja’s” asks, especially in regards to licensing deals. Tyler himself also felt that, especially due to the size of platform, it was harder to tone down the toxicity of the Twitch community he’d grown. Mixer is known to be more stringent about such concerns; they told BI that “Mixer is a place that was formed around being positive and welcome from day one.” The results of the move are mixed.
On the flip side, it hasn’t worked so much for companies like Facebook Gaming. The social media omega-giant attempted an exclusivity deal with esports event production company ESL nearly two years ago. Facebook ended up unpopular due to its incomplete features, low quality, and difficulty viewing without an account, and ESL faced backlash as a result. Facebook also regularly “bought out” other streamers with extremely mixed results.
Again, CouRage might be at home on YouTube. Twitch has no regular dedicated location to look up and view previously-recorded videos, which is where streamers like CouRage find a substantial amount of revenue and enforce deals. This buyout could be one battle to keep an eye on.