Twitch Announces Controversial Changes for Boost Feature

Twitch announced this week the return of a "Boost" feature that'll allow viewers to give their favorite streamers more visibility by recommending the stream to others. The feature was tested before with people able to use their Channel Points earned from watching streams to Boost a content creator's account, but even then, people were iffy about the idea and viewed it as a way to transfer the responsibility of making streamers more visible onto viewers. Now, the idea's being received even worse since it's now been announced that the Boosts will be purchased through real money, not a made-up currency earned for watching the people you like to watch.

Twitch's latest Patch Notes episode streamed through the official Twitch channel on its own platform shared the latest on the Boost feature and what it'll look like now. Jacob Rosok, the product manager for Twitch, reiterated that this was an experiment previously and that Twitch learned from that test that people wanted Boosts to be more accessible and impactful. The next step is to test this new version of Boosts with a small group of people where viewers will have the option to "directly purchase" Boosts, Rosok said.

Rosok then said that one of the ways they changed the Boost feature based on community feedback was a focus on "purchase flexibility" which translates to paying real money to uplift someone's stream. An example showed during the stream had someone paying $0.99 to Boost a stream with 1,000 recommendations while 3,000 recommendations would cost $2.97. Once a 10-minute purchasing window for Boosts ends and the actual Boost launches, channels are recommended on the front page of Twitch based on the number of recommendations purchased.

When asked why it was a paid option now and not free, Rosok said "these types of placements come with a cost," but it wasn't explained why that cost was being transferred to viewers as opposed to anyone else involved with the process. It was also confirmed that content creators will not get any of the money viewers spend on Boosts.

The shift in tone even within the Twitch chat for the stream itself was pretty apparent after these details were shared. People were initially talking about Channel Points with seldom a positive word to be shared about the new Boosts after it was revealed what the new system would look like. The response on social media was even less receptive with people calling out the new system as Twitch's very own pay-to-win feature. Many more criticized Twitch for opting for something like this instead of making a "proper algorithm" that boosts streamers' channels.

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Rosok said more than once during the stream that "this is just an experiment" and indicated that changes are likely to happen, so it remains to be seen what the final version of this product will look like.