After a month-long burnout-induced break from streaming, popular Twitch streamer Pokimane returned to the platform last week only to be met with criticism for opting to conduct her most recent stream under the guise of an animated digital avatar.
The trend sees content creators, known as VTubers, depict their likeliness virtually, often stylized in a fashion reminiscent of Japanese anime characters; the idea is to create videos and stream without the explicit need to show one’s face on camera, affording a degree of anonymity many traditional content creators forego.
Yet, what could conceivably be a big boost for the burgeoning community, thanks to Pokimane’s status as one of the premier Twitch streamers, hasn’t gone down well with elements within the VTuber community.
Pokimane is accused of hopping on the trend, with many describing the move as a ‘cash grab’ given the rising lucrativeness of VTubing. Indeed, a tweet from Pokimane noting the debut of her VTuber avatar is littered with responses condemning the streamer.
“You are cashing in on a trend. You are already famous and have showed your face. Why now? WE WORK OUR HEARTS out. There’s so many small VTubers that deserve recognition! You are hoping on a trend and saturating it more! How dare you!”
“Why? A big point of vtubers is the anonymity that allows the talents to express themselves without worrying about their personal life being affected. You shouldn’t become one just because it’s new; this is bigger than JUST you. Distance yourself from the culture that WE respect.”
Other wagered that the streaming star jumped onto the VTuber bandwagon for the financial benefits, providing screenshots from website PlayBoard that estimates content creator earnings. The top ten is largely dominated by VTubers.
“Welcome to the community! Please don’t ever apologize for finding fun in becoming a vtuber! This is a wonderful welcoming community and we are all happy to have you join us! If you need any help I am here for you! Vtuber poki is adorable! :D”
Yesterday, Pokimane responded to the backlash , explaining that the intention wasn’t to step on the toes of the existing community, but rather experiment with something the streamer considers ‘the future.’
“I understand where you’re coming from, and you’re absolutely entitled to that opinion. I tried to repeatedly mention on stream that I don’t want to encroach on the vtuber community, and I mentioned that anyone interested should check the numerous creators that have been doing this for years. Imo this sort of this is the future + I think it’s so cool and a great alternative for anyone that doesn’t wanna use a cam for whatever reason. I hope to partake in a respectful manner, however your feelings are still valid and I respect that you or others may not support me. Wish you & the whole community the best of luck, I’ll be listening to people’s feedback and doing my best to be considerate.”
It’s unclear whether the criticism will strong-arm the streamer into abandoning her VTuber avatar.