How Twitch Removing Host Mode Could Impact Online Communities – GameRant

How Twitch Removing Host Mode Could Impact Online Communities – GameRant

Twitch has officially removed Host Mode from the platform, but the result is likely going to worsen the user experience and community spirit.
Twitch has finally gone ahead and removed its Host Mode function, but it's a decision that users are struggling to understand. Out of all currently available streaming platforms, Twitch remains one of, if not the biggest one that users will choose when it comes to following creators they like, seeing content they enjoy, and being a part of a community. The latest change appears to be a step backward, as it begins to weaken these online communities with seemingly no benefit.
The Host Mode function was an ideal way of encouraging fans to find other content creators, as it passively utilized a channel's downtime by generated a consistent cycle of user engagement. At face value it was a net positive for all, where hosting helped channels succeed as creators advertised like-minded communities, all while Twitch could keep users on-site. The removal of this mode appears to only have depreciating results looking into the future.
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Host Mode was a useful function for channels that essentially allowed them to platform other content creators during downtime. So should one streamer be away on holiday, taking a break from streaming, or just not streaming that day, their channel could be used to showcase another. Whether it was to help support a friend's channel or boost small creators who are deserving of more recognition, the Host Mode allowed users to foster better informed, safer communities across Twitch's platform.
Not only does this benefit the channels themselves, it gives viewers and fans of those channels a source of recommendations not based on algorithms, but on genuine human connections. For example, Ninja's meteoric rise on Twitch via streaming Fortnite meant he could host another channel similarly dedicated to Fortnite that would appeal to his viewers. The end result is that fans can be encouraged to view other content they might not have otherwise seen.
These communities are often built on values of diversity and inclusivity, combating fan behaviors like chat-hopping or dog-piling, and instead promoting positivity and communal cohesion. Bigger channels can support smaller channels, audiences are exposed to a greater variety of content, and above all else, Twitch can ensure its users remain on the site longer. After all, Twitch profits from advertisements and a cut of channel subscriptions, so it behooves the company to focus on creating a platform with constant engagement.
Twitch's explanation for removing Host Mode sheds some light on why the decision was made, but its response and proposed alternative solution still leave its users concerned. On its official FAQ following Host Mode's removal, Twitch states that Host Mode was failing to meet users' expectations of interacting with hosted channels, requiring the hosting channel to continue moderating their own chat and, which limited the channels' growth.
Its proposed alternative is something called "Suggested Channels," in which channels are suggested to viewers based on algorithmic recommendations from a pool of user-approved channels. Though it performs close enough to host mode without requiring much active user input, it does create new conditions that negatively impact Twitch users, wherein viewers are already likely to be familiar with suggested channels because it all operates under a similar algorithm.
This makes it more likely communities will become isolated, supporting and viewing the same channels over and over, but it will also deprive smaller channels of occasionally sharing a larger channel's audiences. Acknowledging that Host Mode's removal will also remove a streamer's agency in sharing their community, Twitch's FAQ adds that raids will remain available. These have their own issues though, such as the prevelance of hate raids or raids only being useful when a streamer is actively streaming.
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Having worked as a writer for over a decade, Martin Wood first started his own academic gaming site before joining the GameRant team. His passion first started with Pokemon Silver and then exploded from there, becoming a huge driving force behind his aspirations in life. As an advocate for the critical academic study of gaming and backed by an MA in Literature and Culture with a Digital Specialty from the University of Birmingham, he’s hoping to take the field further and help inspire others to join the conversation. If he’s not found at his desk trying to plumb his brain for interesting insights and stories about gaming, then he’ll either be doing “research” with his latest favorite games or spending time with his two poodles, Bentley and Jensen.

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