When Twitch Prime initially launched, it was intended as a way to support the premium service of its parent company, Amazon, by encouraging users to sign up for Amazon Prime as well. However, Twitch Prime has since expanded into a far better deal and a much more expansive service than what it was during its inception. While the service was at first only intended for users who were willing to pay a small monthly fee to get out of watching Twitch ads, it expanded to a service that offered free games, occasional exclusive gaming accessories, and much more to loyal subscribers.
And now, in a statement released by Twitch earlier today, Twitch has announced that its plans for the service’s future will be making a rather dramatic shift.
According to this announcement: “As we have continued to add value to Twitch Prime, we have also re-evaluated some of the existing Twitch Prime benefits. As a result, universal ad-free viewing will no longer be part of Twitch Prime for new members, starting on September 14.”
Twitch continues to say that members who are already subscribers of the service will continue to experience ad-free viewings until October 14th.
To explain this decision, Twitch states that after so many of its viewers were taking advantage of its prime service (due in no small part to the amount of additional benefits the company has added over its lifespan), ads were playing so infrequently that streamers were losing out on a significant portion of the value that they would typically gain by playing ads on stream. Twitch states that it made the choice to remove ad-free viewing from Twitch prime to benefit both the streamers and the advertisers.
Twitch continues on to explain that Ad-Free viewing will still be possible through a subscription to its high-tier Twitch Turbo premium service, costing $8.99 per month up from the $4.99 per month of Twitch Prime.
In closing, the company restates that there are more good things to come, including “more and better free games with Prime and in-game loot every month, monthly channel subscriptions, exclusive badges, along with new benefits and surprises”. They also reaffirm that the Twitch Prime subscription still allows users to take advantage of all their usual suite of benefits that Prime offers through Amazon, such as exclusive offers and free Two-Day shipping when applicable.
This is an interesting move from Twitch, and a move that is likely to upset many viewers. Although the Twitch Prime service probably holds a value of far more than $4.99 per month should grant a user, Twitch is responsible for escalating that value higher than it deserved to be by continuing to add a host of gaming benefits on top of the ad-free experience.
Twitch likely realized its mistake at some point, and decided that directly addressing the consumers and removing the Ad-Free feature would be the best way to handle its removal from the Prime service.
There are many monthly subscription services out there, and most of the more popular ones consider it a general rule of thumb not to remove features from their existing service in order to add them to higher tiers. Some companies still do this, but they often disguise their actions in clever ways, such as re-branding the services with a new name, offering rewards to “legacy customers”, or re-working the feature to make using it much less appealing.
An example of a way that Twitch might have sought to implement this rule was to make ads not obligational, but optional. If users chose to watch ads, they could accumulate a kind of secondary currency that they could then trade in for exclusive items and rewards. Meanwhile, non-paying users would be forced to watch ads at no benefit.
The gaming audience of Twitch might be more likely to approve of and engage in a service like this, which lets Twitch ensure that a significant percentage of its ‘Prime’ users are still viewing ads without angering them by dropping the feature.
However, Twitch’s approach to the issue is by no means bad business – Its the opposite, which is why it seems so shocking. While other companies would normally choose to hide their error under additional systems that essentially result in the removal of a service or system, Twitch went out of their way to admit their mistakes and promise users that the service would still hold some great benefits in the future.
Good guy Twitch.