Thursday, August 7, 2014 Is Digging Its Own Grave

base image courtesy of the Oregon Trail Tombstone Generator was spun off from its parent site, when the company noticed that live streams of video games and e-sports were one of the fastest growing video categories in both content and viewers. Eventually became so popular, according to the Wall Street Journal  streaming of video accounted for 2 percent of all internet traffic used in the US and was the fourth most popular source of internet traffic during peak usage hours. outlasted not just its only real direct competion (the site, which went out of business last year), but even outlasted its parent site-- shut down operations this month.

In the same month that the Wall Street Journal published the article pointing out's success, the interactive experiment "Twitch Plays Pokemon" became a runaway hit, amassing millions of views and praise from Twitch's vice president of marketing, Matthew DiPietro. DiPietro told Gamespot that the original stream was an example of “how video games have become a platform for entertainment and creativity that extends WAY beyond the original intent of the game creator.” It was also announced this year that would be the official streaming video provider for E3.

But just a short time after it was reported that Google purchased for 1 billion dollars, it seems that new content restrictions and fundamental changes to how the site works are alienating long-time users and angering developers. In official blog posts from the twitch dev team, it was announced that previously saved and archived broadcasts were slated for deletion. Certain highlight videos would be saved, but only up to a maximum of two hours. Many twitch channels have archived broadcasts going back years, which are now going to vanish soon.

In another unwelcome change, if your broadcasts use anything twitch decided was copyrighted audio (including in-game music), and you saved it for later, the ENTIRE half hour segment would have its audio muted. Thais has resulted in broadcasts that have no other audio but the in-game music as someone plays being muted entirely, and even developers showing their own game off via twitch have had the audio muted!

Was the audio muted thanks to the game's composer, maybe? Nope.

Alright, then maybe audio tracks are flagged for being muted because the creator might have registered them with some sort of content service?

That's odd. Well, there has to be some way the developers can clear music track beforehand, right?

Oh. That's really not good. As tumblr user khoroshocrossing put it:
Think of your favorite youtuber. Imagine if all their old videos were suddenly deleted, and you could only view their uploads in meaty chunks that split up their full recording. Now, imagine if these meaty chunks are censored because of copyright restraints on audio usage and short audio clips. So huge portions of their library are restricted and permanently erased because they used a copyrighted clip. It would be an enormous pain in the ass and it would strongly stifle what content creators can upload to their channel, right? Well, just apply all of the above to video game streaming, and now you've got a massive problem
There's already been a lot of push-back from both twitch users and game developers, but twitch doesn't seem to want to budge. Can a company founded on the backs of its community engagement last for long when it takes steps to alienate the same userbase that made it ripe for Google's billions in the first place?

(Thanks to tumblr user flatluigi for the twitter screencaps.)

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