In a move that's baffling streamers and viewers alike, Twitch is removing the ability to host other streams in early October.
The feature, originally introduced in 2014, allows streamers to direct viewers to another Twitch personality's livestream while they're offline. It's a neat way for streamers to highlight friends and other creators while they're not streaming themselves, providing a use for someone's main page when they're not around. But bizarrely, Twitch is now claiming that host mode "blocks" viewers from being able to interact with streamers in a post announcing the feature's departure on October 3, 2022.
"We made the decision to deprecate this feature because the experience it delivers to viewers doesn't match their expectations when they come to Twitch," the news read (opens in new tab). "Viewers want to interact with a streamer when they're live and host mode blocks this from happening. Preventing viewers from interacting with the streamer they're watching also limits a streamer's growth potential because they're not able to build meaningful connections with those new viewers."
Twitch is removing hosting other channels and it’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever read. So when I’m Offline i can’t even have my viewers enjoy watching my friends who are live?? Such an L pic.twitter.com/W6ewkdW7vVSeptember 6, 2022
The reasoning feels a little confusing when you consider that host mode only works when the streamer's main page is offline, as well as it being pretty easy to click on the hosted stream to begin talking and interacting with the streamer. I'm not the only one perturbed by it, with numerous streamers taking to Twitter to simply ask: why? CriticalBard (opens in new tab) called the decision "highly unnecessary," adding "I host when I'm currently not live so my unused channel clicks to someone that IS live for more engagement." Scottish streamer Limmy (opens in new tab) shared the sentiment, calling the removal "daft" and saying "it's the streamer not being live that prevents interacting with the streamer."
As some have pointed out, raids—where a streamer who is about to go offline can redirect their audience to someone else who is currently live—still exist, but the two felt like they served different purposes. Raids are a great way to give viewers something else to engage with after but also require active participation from the streamer raiding. Hosting was far more passive and was a great way to highlight smaller streamers.
Hosting will now change to "suggested channels," presumably an algorithm trying to push similar creators to the page you're on. It's a bummer that it takes the choice out of the streamer's hands, though perhaps that's the point: Twitch wants to recommend other streamers itself, rather than the host channel doing so. The backlash among streamers is very real, though, so we'll see if the streaming giant stays the course.