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Small streamers protest Blizzard’s ‘Support a Streamer’ Twitch event

Many streamers feel unsupported by the Overwatch 2 promotion.

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To promote the launch of the second Overwatch 2 beta, Blizzard has partnered with select Twitch streamers to give away an exclusive Brigitte skin. The list of over 150 streamers participating in the Support a Streamer event includes some of the biggest channels on Twitch, such as xQc, Asmongold, A_Seagull, and T-Pain. While there are also smaller streamers on the list, the inclusion of some of the platform’s most successful entertainers has left some of those who didn’t make the cut feeling snubbed. To them, the ‘Support a Streamer’ event favors streamers who don’t need the support.

To get the Medic Brigitte skin, you have to donate three total subscriptions to any of the Twitch channels on the list while they’re actively streaming in the Overwatch category. Once you do, Twitch will give you a code and you can redeem it for the skin on Battle.net. The event will last for the entirety of the Overwatch 2 beta and then some, from June 29 to July 20.

Partnered Twitch streamers receive 50% of $4.99 subscriptions, and high-profile streamers like Asmongold and xQc could receive more depending on their individual deals with Twitch. Along with the biggest Overwatch streamers like A_Seagull, ml7, Emongg, and Kephrii, the event will put more money in the pockets of wiki site Fextralife and controversial streamers like Dafran, Asmongold, and xQc.

Support a Streamer and other events like it are one opportunity for major publishers to spotlight smaller streamers and directly boost their income. Blizzard is essentially handing out free money, which for obvious reasons makes the inclusion of mega-successful channels frustrating for uninvited streamers who are still trying to build an audience. Some of Overwatch’s most faithful streamers aren’t included in the event.

“[The event] absolutely ruined my evening,” French Overwatch streamer Gwadael told me. “I was so, so hype for tomorrow and they dropped this and I was really shocked to see that list and the requirements. It’s not ‘support a streamer’, it’s ‘support the streamers we chose because we said so.'”

Gwadael has streamed Overwatch since 2018. She’s never been contacted by Blizzard to participate in any of the past Twitch events, and she isn’t in the Discord server Blizzard uses to communicate with streamers, but she streams the game 15 to 20 hours a week. FefeGG, another French Overwatch streamer with a large audience, was also frustrated to be left out of the event, calling the situation “disheartening” on Twitter.

ItsTryHard, another excluded streamer, perceives the list as an in-group of friends and members of certain social media circles. “Kinda feels like you’re punished for not being in this close-knit social group,” the streamer told me.

Blizzard has highlighted smaller Overwatch streamers during past Twitch events, putting them on the front page of the game’s launcher, although those events didn’t include subscription-based promotion and the income that results from it. This time, Blizzard appears to be more focused on streamers with large audiences, or a connection to Overwatch esports. Some of the streamers on the list for this event haven’t streamed for months or don’t regularly stream Overwatch.

The streamers I spoke to, along with a number of others, believe the event should have been open to anyone who streams Overwatch, and are frustrated by the disconnect between the ‘Support a Streamer’ name and the event’s actual details. Despite that, most of them will stream the Overwatch 2 beta once they get access.

“I hate how they have handled this, but this is literally the 9th or 10th time [Blizzard has left out] me and others in the community, if not more,” ItsTryHard said. “I stream this game fulltime and I rely on the income to pay my mortgage and buy food etc, so [if] I were to randomly stop streaming Overwatch now I’d just have to throw the towel in and head back into the office.”

Responding to criticism of Support a Streamer event on the Overwatch forums, community manager Andy Belford said he feels the list of streamers includes a “good mix of familiar faces and new folks who will bring plenty of new eyes to both the game and community.”

Belford also said that the idea behind the event is to market Overwatch 2 through streamers without “just throwing piles of cash” at them.

“Like it or not, traditional marketing is no more and content creators serve an important function in the existing ecosystem,” he wrote. “What we’re focused on doing is providing opportunities for creators to be successful with Overwatch, so that creating content for the community is a more sustainable choice for them.”

For the streamers who didn’t make the cut, however, there’s no practical difference: In return for promoting Overwatch 2, popular streamers will bring in the most money from the event, while everyone else will continue streaming without that support like usual.

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