This afternoon, Twitch and Amazon issued a series of announcements in quick succession detailing a “change” (see: downgrade) in benefits for one of their broadest and vocal communities: gamers.
Twitch led the charge by announcing via Twitter (and email) that effective September 14th, universal ad-free viewing for Prime Members would be discontinued:
Beginning 9/14, ad-free viewing will no longer be part of #TwitchPrime for new members. You can still get ad-free viewing on a channel by using your Twitch Prime sub, if the creator has this enabled.
Learn more: https://t.co/yGRe9prKqb
— PrimeGaming (@primegaming) August 20, 2018
The announcement triggered a wave of frustrated Twitch fans, many of whom cited ad-free viewing as one of the primary reasons for their subscription to Amazon Prime. Some even recalled that when Twitch Prime was introduced, senior staff assured viewers that even though they don’t see ads, the streamers were getting compensated as though they did watch them. These statements were seemingly at odds with their announcement today, which claimed that discontinuing universal ad-free viewing would help content creators. While further clarification revealed that the statements applied directly to Partnered streamers, the din of disgruntled Twitch viewers continued to grow in the moments that followed the announcement.
Following this up, Amazon announced that their 20% discount on pre-orders will be discontinued effective 8/28. Instead of the standard 20%, select titles will be eligible for a $10 Amazon credit within 35 days of the eligible purchase. Not only that, they only have 60 days to turn around and spend that credit.
Fresh off the sting of Twitch’s announcement, gamers offered immediate and succinct feedback in response to this change, with many questioning the value of Amazon Prime in the face of these changes.
What adds insult to this particular set of injuries is that these announcements come as Amazon’s profits and market cap continue to climb. While Apple beat them to the $1 trillion benchmark, its 52-week climb of over 100% indicates that the company isn’t exactly hurting for cash.
So, what’s the deal? It’s very similar to the “unlimited data” tango that carriers have participated in over the last few years. Amazon and Twitch rolled out a series of fantastic benefits when the services first launched. Now, with more people watching Twitch than ever before, and increasingly savvy consumers utilizing the 20% off benefit for physical pre-orders, it appears as though the company is facing a vast chasm of lost revenue – revenue it would very much like to get back, thank you very much. The timing of the announcements appears to be an attempt of heaping on the negative news and to get the nay-sayers out in force early, so that in a few weeks time it will be back to business as usual.
I don’t think so.
How soon we forget: we saw the result of the collective ire of the gaming community following EA’s Battlefront II fiasco. I think that these changes could trigger a similar response. What remains to be seen is that whether the collective frustration of gamers can overcome one of the largest companies in the world…again.
We’ve reached out to Amazon for an official comment on the changes, as well as a response to the concerns that have emerged as a result. We have yet to hear back, but will be sure to update if & when that happens.