While much of the video game industry started getting back on its feet in 2021, streaming platform Twitch actually had a pretty difficult year. Throughout 2021, Twitch continued to receive criticism for seemingly inconsistent moderation and its handling of DMCA takedowns while simultaneously facing new complications. Lots of Twitch streamers have been suffering at the hands of "hate raids" lately, in which coordinated Twitch users or bot networks raid someone's stream to harass them. What's more, a few major Twitch streamers decided to leave the platform in 2021, looking for better opportunities as newfound members of YouTube Gaming.
The rising migration to YouTube Gaming isn't surprising, considering how often Twitch streamers and viewers criticize the platform. Lots of Twitch users dislike the company's lack of communication, as well as how slow it can be to take action on major issues. That's why the recent open letter from Angela Hession, Twitch's Vice President of Global Trust and Safety, is such a breath of fresh air. Users only occasionally get that level of insight on Twitch's actions, so it's a relief to get some concrete details on the site's inner workings. Hopefully, this letter is a sign of newfound openness within Twitch that results in more dialogue and collaboration between Twitch staff and streamers.
The Contributions of Twitch's Open Letter
For a lot of streamers, Twitch's lack of communication with its own community is exhausting. For many months before Twitch rolled out new moderation tools meant to combat hate raids, it refused to tell its community what it was working on, simply insisting that it was on the case. While this behavior impacts the community at large, it can be tiresome for individual streamers too. Ludwig Ahgren, who recently switched to YouTube, explained that Twitch's poor communication and lack of support for its content creators factored into his decision to switch sites.
That's why Hession's letter feels like a deviation from Twitch's usual standards. A lot of the letter does focus on recapping Twitch's 2021 upgrades, but in the process, Hession reveals some pretty interesting information about Twitch's works, like the fact that Twitch has banned 15 million bot accounts associated with hate raids. Hession also lays out a list of very specific, explicit goals for Twitch in 2022, like improving its communication and discouraging harmful behavior among users. The letter also mentions upcoming features, like an upgrade to Twitch's reporting system. All in all, Hession's letter gives fans a decent picture of Twitch's objectives for 2022.
Hession mentions that Twitch can't tell its users everything, since malefactors can abuse that information and ruin Twitch's work, but Hession also states in no uncertain terms that Twitch needs to have better lines of communication with its users. That's exactly what Twitch streamers have been waiting to hear from the platform. If 2022 is marked with more open letters or frequent user debriefings of the type that Hession offers, then in the coming year, things might be looking up for both Twitch's reputation and for streamers who demand more information about the platform.
Twitch Needs to Communicate
Twitch isn't about to keel over just because Ludwig, TimTheTatMan, and other successful streamers have found new homes on YouTube, but that doesn't mean it can rest easy and let its major issues go unchanged. Ludwig and his peers provide compelling evidence to Twitch streamers that they don't have to stick with their home platform if they're tired of it. Twitch can't keep hemorrhaging content creators forever, so it's time for the platform to change the way it interacts with its community. Considering the contents of Hession's letter, maybe 2022 will be the year that Twitch changes its tune, giving streamers more information about its plans while listening more closely to what users have to say.
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Twitch had a difficult 2021 for a few different controversies, but viewership numbers prove that it’s still the streaming leader for now.
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