Tyler "Ninja" Blevins announced today that he's waving goodbye to Twitch and porting his stream over to pastures new, specifically the Microsoft-owned rival platform Mixer. In a video published simultaneously on YouTube and Twitter, the Fortnite streamer announced he would be streaming exclusively on Mixer full time moving forward.
The video takes the form of a staged press conference with a Ninja-branded backdrop and a throng of journalists – including a few who were none other than the man himself in disguise – bombarding the star with questions.
In response to a question, Ninja said;
"I feel like this is a really chance to get back in touch with my roots and really remember why I fell in love with streaming in the first place."
Mixer, formerly Beam, was acquired by Microsoft in 2016 and has struggled to dent Twitch and YouTube's dominance of the streaming landscape.
Landing Ninja marks a coup for the platform. Facebook has tried and failed to throw mountains of money at streamers to tempt them over, and although some have joined the social media giant, viewers have been reluctant to move with them. By targeting one of the most recognizable faces in streaming, Mixer makes a strong claim to bucking the trend, however.
When asked for comment Mixer said:
"We're thrilled to welcome Ninja and his community to Mixer. Mixer is a place that was formed around being positive and welcoming from day one, and we look forward to the energy Ninja and his community will bring."
Is Switching to Mixer a Big Mistake?
A tranche of fans has questioned the wisdom of the move, citing an inevitable drop in viewers as fans accustomed to the way Twitch works and the litany of features it boasts – many of which Mixer lacks – refuse to jump ship alongside Ninja. One Twitter user remarked;
Yeah and only about 10% will follow him there and the rest will find someone else to fill the void, twitch is too good to switch from right now
— AutisticTrades (@enriquehvera) August 1, 2019
Another commenting on Ninja's motivation for the switch said;
WOW. How much did Mixer put in your bank for this one? Lmao
— Rift | FNBR Leaks (@RiftFNBR) August 1, 2019
Although Ninja can expect a drop in numbers, both he and Mixer have seemingly planned ahead and are currently offering a month's free subscription to the Fortnite player's channel on Mixer to entice fans over. As of this writing, over 100,000 people have signed up for the offer.
With an established fan base on Twitch and little prospect for growth, the question is: Why would Ninja want to uproot to Mixer?
Ninja Owes his Success in Part to Twitch
Twitch has been Ninja's home since late 2017 when he started streaming on the platform after a relatively successful career as a professional Halo eSports player. Twitch was one part of a puzzle that transformed his life. The other, you ask? Fortnite.
Riding the wave of Fortnite's popularity, Ninja jumped from milestone to milestone, peaking at an unheard of subscriber count on Twitch of nearly 300,000 and 616,693 concurrent viewers in March 2018. To give an idea of how lucrative Twitch can be, 300,000 translates to roughly $1.05 million.
Twitch facilitated Ninja's success by helping rebuke claims of subscriber bots accounting for his staggering numbers, often featuring him on its homepage, indirectly promoting him via a heavy focus on Fortnite, and, most importantly, giving the streamer and his community a place to call home.
From there, Ninja succeeded in doing something that few figures within the gaming would even contemplate. He cemented himself a position as the face of a game that was slowly making inroads into popular culture and becoming a worldwide phenomenon.
Appearances on primetime shows such as "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" and "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" soon followed. Ninja was the most famous and in-demand gamer the world has ever known, and he owes much of his success to Twitch.
Nowadays, things are not quite as peachy for the 21-year-old. Ninja's Twitch subscriber count stands at a mere 15,000, and he struggles to pull in 40,000 viewers on a good day although his total follower count still stands at 14.7 million, a Twitch record. His fortunes are on the downturn, and there appears to be little merit in switching platforms based purely on nebulous claims of getting back to basics.
Ninja & Mixer - A Desperate, Lucrative Reboot
A move to Mixer represents a reboot of sorts for Ninja and one powered by a substantial investment on the part of Microsoft. Likely, we will never know the exact sum, but this hasn't stopped inquiring minds over of Reddit from a spot of speculation. Numbers have ranged from a highly dubious $6 billion over six years to a comparatively conservative $10 million.
Blevins doesn't garner the same attention as he did in the past. And although sponsorship deals, merchandise, and appearances at Fortnite events such as last weekend's World Cup are a cash cow, nothing quite lures over someone who has grown accustomed to a particular lifestyle only to see it fall away slowly than the big bucks from Microsoft.
Ninja's fall has been as vertiginous as his rise. The Mixer deal has hints of a waning star's last-ditch attempt to remain relevant in a gaming scene outgrowing his brand of entertainment. Mixer may be his last chance to cash out, and he isn't missing out on the opportunity – whatever the cost.