It’s difficult enough to worry about success on Twitch when you’re a solo streaming operation. It’s a completely different scenario when you’re trying to ensure that an entire team of people can keep working.
That’s the dire situation that Kevin Pereira found himself in. A longtime fixture in the gaming community, Pereira is best known as a host of Attack of the Show!, which aired on G4 from 2005-2012. After leaving G4, he launched The Attack on Twitch in 2014. The Attack wasn’t performing the way Pereira and his production company needed it to, and the host-turned-producer-turned-boss told Polygon that with people’s jobs on the line, he was feeling desperate to try and keep the show going to keep as many people employed as possible.
Pereira ended up turning to view-botting, a practice that falsely inflates the number of viewers watching a stream or video. It’s frowned upon within the streaming community, and it violates Twitch’s terms of service. After being discovered, Pereira voluntarily took down the Twitch channel before it could get suspended.
He told Polygon earlier today that even though he knew he was doing something wrong, he did it in an effort to keep the Attack team together for however long he could. It was an act born of desperation.
“I explicitly said I had nothing left to lose and was very flippant about it and said, ‘Well, a way to get discovered on the platform is to have a channel that’s getting more views,’” Pereira said. “So instead of trying to make the content better or refocus my strategy, with the limited time we had left, I decided to shortcut it and try to get some extra views on the channel.”
Pereira acknowledged that view-botting “means the [Attack] brand is pretty much done,” and said that he would be shutting down everything, including the team’s Patreon.
“I’m going to try and help the team land on their feet and try to get them jobs elsewhere,” Pereira continued. “Clearly, it was a mistake, but my personal hope is that it becomes the footnote — I know it’s the story right now, and I get that — but I hope it becomes the footnote.
“I tried to save jobs, I really did, and hope that in the end that I didn’t do any irreparable damage to people’s careers.”
Turning to view-botting left him ridden with guilt, Pereira said, noting that “it’s caused endless sleepless nights because I know I don’t want the team to work on this, to work so hard on this, to bear the burden of my mistake.” During the conversation, Pereira spoke mostly about the concern he had for his team and the brand’s reputation — something, he admitted, he hopes isn’t ruined now.
“It sucks and I’m feeling tragically defeated by it all,” Pereira said. “For three years, we were making some really amazing content, and building a community and doing something different on the platform, and it sucks that this action I took might color all of that negatively ... but understandably.”
Questions amassed when screenshots of the team’s message to fans addressing the view-botting controversy on the show’s Discord made their way to Reddit, leading people to wonder how it got so bad in the first place. Dedicated fans pointed out they thought something might have been happening when The Attack’s streams started jumping from a few hundred viewers to a few thousands, later acknowledging that was front page traffic, but they couldn’t understand why Pereira would decide to do something like view-botting.
The issue, Pereira told Polygon, was that The Attack grew too fast, and he couldn’t support it.
“The Attack brand really expanded a while back,” he said. “We moved to a new studio for a different project. We ramped up and put a ton of resources into our livestreams, with the hope that one day we could attract sponsors, or take it to TV, or do something that could justify doing a big variety show on Twitch. Eventually, I had to whittle things down and whittle things down.”
Pereira said he also blames himself for how the situation got so dire in the first place.
“The sad thing is that I told the employees we have a month and change left because it’s not working,” he said. “I personally took my eyes off of it for a long while to focus on generating revenue as a production company, and doing some other things with the business. I took my eyes off the ball and wasn’t able to make it work for that platform.”
Pereira takes the responsibility for just about everything: the view-botting, the show’s inability to find an audience and the inability to provide for his team. He told Polygon he’s going to take some time to disappear for a while and focus on trying to make sure his staff can find jobs elsewhere.
“I have to focus that the team transitions as well out of this as soon as possible,” Pereira said. “I didn’t manage to buy the team much time. I kicked up some dust toward the end. I’m going to Homer Simpson into the bush — back into the hedges — for the time being. I have other shows that I would like to take around and pitch down the line, but I need to take some time to recalibrate.”
Despite the sadness and scrutiny affecting Pereira and his team right now, he did want to clear up a few points. Twitch didn’t shut down the Attack channel or suspend The Attack, for example. That was a decision Pereira made with his team, which is why they were able to have a proper finale.
“We decided to delete the channel. We decided to cool it down,” he said. “At some point we’ll probably make our VODs available somewhere else. Luckily there’s still a community that wants us to continue making stuff and want to see more, but I don’t know what that looks like yet.”
It’s a rough time for Pereira and, as he talked to Polygon from Los Angeles, he admitted that he doesn’t know what’s going to happen next. He did, however, take a second to pause when asked if there was anything he wanted to add about the situation — a moment to reflect on the time he’s had working on the show. Just like everything else, it came back to his team.
“I want to thank them and our community and everyone that worked on Attack. It was a wild ride, and I learned a lot of lessons, and I still have more to learn. I hope people really enjoyed what we made.”
Update: The Attack’s viewership jumped from hundreds of users to thousands, not “thousands to hundreds of thousands.” We’ve edited the article to reflect this.