Is streamer “hype” damaging games and communities?

You might have noticed on Twitch that GTA5 is the most viewed game currently. Yes, you are reading this correct. Not Fortnite, Apex legens, League of Legends or CS:GO but GTA5. This is because a good chunk of the “big” streamers are currently playing FiveM, the multiplayer modification which allows for customized (Roleplay in this case) dedicated servers. In this (short) article I will be talking a bit about the impact streamers have on communities and the game community in general.

Before I begin, note that this is not a rant (bi-weekly vent, lol) towards streamers/youtubers. This is ment to touch a subject that’s potential damaging to communities in my eyes. Ready? Go!

The impact of streamers within the gaming industry

It’s no secret that streamers have a lot of influence within the gaming industry. Nowadays, a lot of people (especially the younger generation) associate the quality of a game by the amount of viewers on Twitch for some reason. This became apparent once again while I was talking to people regarding the Outlaws of the Old West vs. Heat discussion. Many of them said multiple times “Yeah but Outlaws has more viewers on Twitch” as if that was a solid argument. How does this reflect the quality of a game?

Nowadays its very rare that developers roll out free demos of their games. Tuning in to a stream to see the game before you purchase it (spoilers included unfortunately), is a great solution to counter that issue. But let’s not use their viewership as a measurement for the quality of the game they are playing alright?

Paying streamers to promote your game is easy

Back in the day publishers and developers would send out review copies to journalists and gaming outlets. They would then get the chance to play the game, write a review and publish the article once the embargo was lifted. Fast forward to 2019. Nowadays we have content creators being paid to promote the games on their channel. Now I don’t have a problem with this necessarily as long as its presented as sponsored content. It does however give you a “filtered” experience when watching a broadcasts/video. A streamer/youtuber won’t go on ranting and complaining about the game while he/she (two genders lol) is being paid by the developer/publisher.

Promoted game streams vs. paid reviews

Remember the IGN fiasco where they were being “payed” to give good reviews to certain games a couple of years ago? That story blew up and people were angry at said news outlet and the publisher of the game. Looking at the current form of marketing new games via Twitch streamers, what’s the difference other than a streamer not giving out ratings?

You get my point.

Note that I am using IGN as an example. Most of us know this has been a common practice for a good while now. Nothing new really.

Streamers playing on community servers

Often you see content being made on community servers. Take the current hype around GTA5 on Twitch or the wave of Arma 3 RP 3 years ago for example. It’s important to know that many of the content that you see on Twitch, and especially Youtube, is scripted. Let’s face it, watching a video of someone getting RDM’d in a server and reporting it to the admin on Discord is boring content right? The problem is that many of the viewers look at the content and expect the same “OMG What is happening?!” experience when they join the server the creator is playing on. We all know that’s not going to happen.

This in return leads to a bad experience for both your staff team (which will be on the verge of having a mental breakdown) and the new players. Besides that, whenever the content creator moves on to his/her next game/adventure, the community server once featured by the top streamers goes back to its old form. Though perhaps with some new core members who decided to stick around after the hype. That right there, is one of the benefits of having a content creator checking out your server.

Having a streamer on your server

Having a “big streamer” playing on your server is great at first! Your server will both get advertising, exposure and a wave of new players. But rest assured that you will be running into trouble within no time. I will paint you a picture.

Imagine you running a roleplay community within Garry’s Mod. Streamer X is playing on your server and so are his followers. Let’s call them minions. On his stream he is having a good time. This is great since it means good publicity for your server! During his stream he is driving his car and drives into a group of players who were just roleplaying (your core players). While he laughs since it created a funny scene on stream, your players are complaining to you. After all, he broke one of your server’s rules. Now this is still manageable right? Here comes the problem.

His minions thought this scene was so “omegalol” that they want to do the same. Now you have his army of minions breaking the same rules. Within minutes you will have complete anarchy on your server. It’s safe to say both you and your staff team are going to have your hands full cleaning up the mess the days/weeks following this evening.

We had something similar happened to us

Around late 2015 we had a pretty successful Rust 10x server up and running. We had a (very) healthy population, a solid group of core players and a good flow of donations coming in. Out of nowhere we were getting loads of Spanish (speaking) players joining our server every day. We had no idea what was going on but our core players were unable to join for days due to the server being full all the time. Little did we know we had a big Spanish youtuber/streamer (Menos Trece) making content in our server.

“Most of the time, the viewers join for the streamer. Not your server”

At first we loved being featured/advertised, it gave our community an (unneeded) boost. After the second day however, things were starting to get annoying. The constant Spanish in chat, random steam friend requests, posts on the forums and overall toxic attitude was killing the atmosphere in an already toxic game. Later on, the content creator contacted one of our admins and requesting/demanding special kits for content. After meeting him halfway, he kept demanding more. Obviously we declined.

After a while, we started noticing he became a target for raiders by now. Somehow this backfired into him making a video claiming one of our admins was abusing his powers during a raid via a video which was debunked with ease. Speaking of which, I just tried finding said video on his channel without success. Hmmm.. Now why would he remove that video?

Advertise your server/community via content creators at your own risk

It’s clear by now that having a streamer/youtuber create content of your server/game can be a big boost for your community. Proceed with caution though. Besides youtubers/streamers (potentially) asking a high sum of money for promoting your servers, it results into a lot of work from you and your team.

If you have the needed funds, team and means to create a fun and stable environment for both the content creator and its followers, then go for it! If you choose to do so, contact several smaller ones instead of one BIG content creator. Trust me, it works better for both parties. Instead of it being you purchasing a service from someone, it will turn into a win-win deal. By helping each other grow, you will develop a new connection and potential friendship.