Twitch Leaves Behind Creators In South Korea


Twitch has a special place in my heart. I’m a big fan of cozy gamers playing anarcho-fantasy farming sims, of politicians playing “Among Us,” of witnessing insane speedruns, and of all the other light-hearted shenanigans on the platform. The Twitch community ranges from supportive to toxic (Twitch streamers are fairly notorious for their middle-school-level drama). But when the community gives, it gives. There’s something irreplaceable about it all: the historical emotes, the fan-driven environments, the global community, the competitive spirit of gaming.

“Twitch,” like all major social platforms, has become such a social staple that sometimes I forget it’s a company, with stockholders and executives to appease. And its creators, alongside all its formal employees, are the laborers keeping it afloat — the ones who will suffer the consequences when things go south, things shut down, and layoffs arrive.

That’s why it’s so devastating to hear the news from Twitch this week. Twitch CEO Dan Clancy announced yesterday that on Feb. 27, 2024, the platform would cease operations in South Korea — arguably, the esports capital of the world, with over half of South Korea’s population considering themselves esports fans. Korea’s esports market is projected to reach $274.4 million this year, but it’s not enough. According to Clancy, with no net neutrality and high network costs in the country, Twitch has been running at a significant loss in the region. (Read Passionfruit contributor Charlotte Colombo’s dispatch on the news to learn more about why this is happening).


Creators’ faith in Twitch suffers with each passing controversy — when it cut its revenue-sharing plans with top creators, when it proposed and then revoked new policies around brand deals, when it lost many top streamers to Kick and Rumble due to its simulcasting and revenue sharing policies. It’s done some things to address these issues (lifting simulcasting restrictions, for example). But it’s had so many issues that CEO Clancy has had to drive around in a van to try to win over some of the big creators in the U.S. who have left the platform.

Still, despite all these issues, many creators are loyal to Twitch. Their income is tied to the platform. Now, in a matter of months, those creators in Korea have to try to pack up and move somewhere else, find a new job. Their livelihoods, their careers, everything is suddenly gone. It’s a brutal reminder that, at the end of the day, social platforms are not just all about community, fun, and games — social platforms are companies that determine the income of thousands of people.

And unfortunately, unlike many workers, Twitch creators aren’t getting severance.


The Esports Capital of the World Is Dead, and It’s All Because of Twitch



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