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Pokimane is leaving Twitch exclusivity behind

‘The end of an era’

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Imane “pokimane” Anys attends the 2023 Green Carpet Fashion Awards at NeueHouse Hollywood on March 09, 2023 in Hollywood, California. (GETTY) Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

Imane “Pokimane” Anys is leaving Twitch exclusivity in a move she’s called “the end of an era.” Anys teased the move in a post on X Tuesday: “Twitch has been my home for a decade..,” she wrote, “but it’s time to say thank you for all the memories and love during my League, Fortnite, & Among Us days.” The message immediately spread on social media as people started to ask: But where is she going?

Anys is not resigning her Twitch contract, meaning she’s free to stream wherever and whenever she wants. On her podcast, don’t tell anyone with pokimane, she went over the details of exclusivity contracts that mandate how much and where a broadcaster will stream. “Although these contracts were made in a way that is great for peace of mind and feeling like you have a safety net as long as you stream a certain number of hours, they do put you in this headspace of prioritizing streaming versus how good the content actually is,” Anys said. It also takes away from effort into other platforms, she said.

Anys will stream on Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, and yes, maybe Twitch sometimes, she said. But she’ll keep doing YouTube videos, too, and making TikToks. “I want to feel free to participate in whatever seems fun to me,” Anys said.

Twitch competitor Kick has nabbed some of Twitch’s most high profile stars, like Félix “xQc” Lengyel and Kaitlyn “Amouranth” Siragusa. But Anys had previously called the streaming platform “cringe,” saying she wouldn’t “compromise [her] morals and ethics” for the sort of money Kick is offering. (Lengyel was reportedly offered a $100 million deal to move to Kick.) On the YouTube side, the Google-owned platform has signed streamers like Rachell “Valkyrae” Hofstetter, Lily “LilyPichu” Ki, and Ludwig “Ludwig” Ahgren in major deals.

Anys has spent the past few years moving away from livestreaming video games on Twitch, but she hasn’t retired from that completely. Instead, she broadened the sorts of content she makes, opting for more “lifestyle” content. On YouTube, Anys posts video blog-type content while occasionally streaming on Twitch and posting short form videos to TikTok. She’s recently expanded into snacks with her Myna line of cookies, too.

Twitch is where Anys started her career in 2013 streaming games like League of Legends. She amassed 9.3 million followers while streaming on the platform. In 2020, Anys famously went live on Twitch with U.S. House Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) to play Among Us and talk about voting — one of the most-viewed streams of all time. Anys is also known for cofounding OfflineTV in 2017 with William “Scarra” Li and Chris Chan; the successful content house was a space for the group (and several other members) to live, work, and create content together. Since that push away from Twitch, Anys is seemingly bigger than ever.

The good news for Twitch is that Anys can still technically stream on Twitch — new simulcast rules announced last year means streamers can broadcast simultaneously on multiple platforms. Of course, there’s still rules to follow: Twitch doesn’t want streamers using the simulcast rules to direct traffic to other platforms. Twitch CEO Dan Clancy spoke about the streaming service’s business after massive layoffs in early January, and reiterated that Twitch isn’t profitable. It hasn’t been able to keep up with the big deals made by competitor platforms — and said Twitch is no longer offering huge deals to big streamers. “The cost of retaining those streamers would have been far more than the revenue generated from them,” Clancy said. “That is something we’ve been very clear about. We don’t want to do that.”

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