Now that Microsoft has closed Mixer for good, its streamers have to decide once and for all where they’re going. Two of Mixer’s biggest stars — who both used to be two of Twitch’s biggest stars — have returned to their former platform to much rejoicing. While Twitch may not have been a perfect home, this shows it’s still the biggest game in town.
Tyler “Ninja” Blevins and Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek both made surprise jumps to Mixer last year — Ninja in August, Shroud in October. At the time, it seemed like an almost inexplicable move, given how popular both were on Amazon’s platform. Ninja was Twitch’s golden boy, its most popular streamer by far, and Shroud wasn’t much less so. But both of them expressed misgivings with Amazon’s platforms — generally speaking, both said they felt they could more easily connect with their fans on Mixer. Ninja and his wife Jessica both reported problems with Twitch staff and a limited ability to grow on the platform. There are also reports that a truly enormous amount of money changed hands in both cases.
As the most visible community members who made the leap to Mixer, Shroud and Ninja were the focus of some concern when Mixer shut down. “What are Shroud and Ninja going to do?” was one of the first questions many asked after the news hit. It was easy to surmise the two wouldn’t necessarily want to return to Twitch given their previous misgivings. And yet, here we are, months later, and both streamers have surfaced on their old stomping grounds.
— Michael Grzesiek (@shroud) August 11, 2020
The first was Ninja, who originally experimented with YouTube streaming before doing a Twitch stream. His return to Twitch earlier this month netted him over over 100,000 viewers shortly after he started. However, while it was a success, we don’t yet know if Ninja’s actually signed a contract with Twitch, and it’s possible he’s a free agent at the moment. This is not necessarily bad news for Ninja, who reportedly has his irons in several different fires. According to Hollywood Reporter, he’s already making inroads in Hollywood, of all places. Ninja appears to be determined to grow his brand beyond gaming whether Twitch likes it or not.
Shroud’s return earlier this week was a triumph, with over 500,000 concurrent viewers — a number that apparently surprised even him. He’s been signed exclusively to Twitch, which is probably a good move on Twitch’s part. While the platform doesn’t necessarily need to boost, it wouldn’t do to let someone of Shroud’s star caliber get away again.
When you think a superpowered platform, you might not necessarily picture Twitch. But in the streaming realm, it’s basically an unstoppable juggernaut. It’s only gotten bigger since the COVID-19 pandemic began, as the global lockdown measures roughly correlate to massive spikes in viewership numbers on the platform. So the return of several Mixer turncoats to Twitch, even if only briefly, was inevitable.
This isn’t to say it’s impossible to venture from Twitch. DrDisrespect moved to YouTube following his mysterious ban from Twitch, and he’s doing land-office business. But there’s a chance that his very high profile combined with his public and as yet not-well-explained ban captured lightning in a bottle. It’s certainly not something I’d want to try and replicate.
So for now it appears Twitch’s wayward sons have returned to the fold, for better or worse. And they seem to be doing alright.
TwitchCon’s probably going to be a little awkward from now on, though.