Last week a devastating data leak hit Amazon’s Twitch live-streaming service, revealing the million-dollar incomes some of the platforms top streamers are earning. Twitch confirmed yesterday that a massive cache of internal data, including creator payouts, was published online after the breach.
Among the information exposed was a list of payouts by Twitch to some of its highest-profile streamers over the last three years.
Critical Role, a group of voice actors who stream their sessions playing Dungeons and Dragons, topped the list of the highest-paid streamers. The group has earned $9,626,712 since August 2019, according to the leak.
Canadian streamer Félix Lengyel, better known by his online alias xQcOW, allegedly earned nearly $8.5 million according to the leak. Lengyel, a former professional Overwatch player, has 9.3 million followers on the platform.
The leak revealed pay disparities on the platform, as the pay wasn’t necessarily linked to subscriber count. Left-wing political commentator Hasan Piker earned almost $3 million with 1.5 million followers, and 20-year-old gaming streamer Adin Ross earned just $1.6 million with 5 million subscribers.
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The leaked figures are likely based on ad revenue and viewer subscriptions. The numbers are most likely only one fraction of the income streamers earn. The numbers do not include additional streams of income including direct donations during a stream, revenue from merchandise, YouTube revenue, and sponsorships.
The leaked information shows how big a business live-game streaming has become, and how it’s helping some of the most popular gamer’s cash in. But while popular streamers appear to be making good money, analysts estimate that a streamer who averages 50 subscribers likely only makes $500 to $700 monthly.
The leak also highlighted a lack of diversity on the platform, at least among its top-ranking streamers.
As gaming news site Kotaku noted, only 3% of Twitch’s top-earning streamers were women, and only one of those was a woman of color. Most of the top-earning streamers were white men.
According to Fortune, the leak included far more information than payments to top streamers. The data appeared to include Twitch’s internal business documents, under-the-hood software files and code, and even details of unreleased projects.
The malicious actors claiming responsibility for the breach said in a 4chan post that the reason for the hack was to “foster more disruption and competition in the online video streaming space,” because Twitch’s community has become ‘a disgusting toxic cesspool’.
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Sources: Forbes, Kotaku
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