When Twitch announced it would "prohibit streaming of gambling sites that include slots, roulette, or dice games (opens in new tab)" in October, Tyler 'Trainwreck' Niknam was one of the loudest voices speaking against the decision. As the second highest-earning slot streamer, the move came as a huge blow to Trainwreck's earnings. After months of dissatisfaction, he's announced he's moving on to a brand-new streaming site Kick. The problem? The people behind the site appear to own Stake.com, a major crypto casino.
It's a fact Trainwreck kept awfully quiet about in his Twitlonger (opens in new tab), which denounced Twitch as having "inconsistent policies". He accused the platform of cutting pay "in places they have no right to cut" and bemoaned its 50/50 revenue split. He said he would be joining Kick as "a non-owner advisor and non-exclusive broadcaster," adding he would "work with their team to help creators where Twitch has failed them—starting with a 95% split of all subscriber income to creators".
The Twitlonger went on to make numerous promises. These included 100% of tips going straight to streamers, a terms of service "designed to be fair to streamers with clear rules on what's okay and not okay," including "no lying to audiences regarding the reality of gambling's losing nature". He asked streamers and viewers to "be patient with Kick and give it time to develop," before finishing with yet another scathing review of Twitch. "Somewhere along the line, Twitch lost its grasp on reality. Twitch used to feel like a place made for us, by us. But Twitch built their empire off our backs and then forgot about us."
PLATFORM UPDATERead: https://t.co/r1hBNpRQaKDecember 5, 2022
He continued: "Kick's team and I have a vision to make a livestreaming platform that's actually built first for creators. Not just for Twitch's huge creators with paid contracts, but for the small and mid-sized creators who are the foundation and backbone of all livestreaming platforms. We will bring livestreaming back to what it as before Twitch lost its way."
It's all very hopeful and sales pitchy, but immediately critics surfaced to pick Trainwreck's Twitlonger apart. Twitch co-founder Marcus 'djWHEAT' Graham called Kick "a sham" with "so many red flags". In a Tweet thread, he said "Train's Twitlonger has so many conflicting statements and elements that anyone with platform experience in this space would look at and go, 'that makes no fucking sense.' I'm all for chasing your dreams, but I'm not ok with letting creators be the collateral damage."
Graham went on to question "why would a crypto gambling site fund/back/launch their own live-streaming service?" He also asked how that would make it creator first, "and not gambling first". Kick and Trainwreck's Twitlonger were further criticised by fellow streamers Ludwig (opens in new tab) and Coffeezilla (opens in new tab). The former said it was "really bad that Train didn't disclose" that Kick was a part of Stake, while the latter called Trainwreck's supposed attempts to hide the connection "embarrassing".
I've seen a lot of shit in my 23 years of internet broadcasting. I can say confidently that https://t.co/tCtGxi18VF is a sham. I can't sit idly by and watch nonsense be thrown out into the world as a beacon of hope for creators. This is where creators need to critically think.🧵December 6, 2022
Trainwreck later confirmed to The Washington Post (opens in new tab) that Kick had a connection with Stake, supposedly through an owner of the crypto casino. He told the Post that Stake co-owner Eddie Craven was an investor and "involved in Kick," but claimed that Stake itself was not an investor.
The situation is all a bit of a mess, one that appears to be the result of Trainwreck's frustration at losing free reign to stream his various slots and gambling content across Twitch. Kick itself looks uncannily like Twitch, with an identical layout only differentiated by the site swapping its purple colour scheme for green. Despite criticisms, the site has already garnered 200,000 sign-ups (opens in new tab) in 24 hours. Whether that traction will last is unknown, or whether Trainwreck will come running back to Twitch with his tail between his legs.