Kolcheff announced that he would be streaming exclusively on the Amazon-owned platform today. (Twitch is owned by Amazon, whose founder, Jeff Bezos, owns The Washington Post.) While Kolcheff did not disclose exact terms, this ensures that he won’t be departing Twitch within the next couple of years.
“For 10 years, Twitch has been my home,” Kolcheff told The Post. “It’s where the ['Mercs Family’ community] grew up and where I’m able to maintain an active and close relationship with my audience. That’s what is most important to me: serving the community and finding new ways to stay close to my chat.”
Kolcheff, a co-owner of esports organization FaZe Clan, has over 6 million followers on Twitch and regularly ranks among the platform’s most-watched streamers. He’s also had dalliances with the mainstream in the form of an appearance in a recent NFL ad, regular NFL-related streams, a June Sports Illustrated cover featuring FaZe Clan and a partnership to promote the gambling arm of oft-controversial media company Barstool Sports.
Following the departures of Lupo and Betar, streaming industry figures and former Twitch employees told The Post that the platform had begun to de-emphasize exclusive contracts, offering less money and fewer contracts overall. While Kolcheff’s deal has been in the works for a while, his manager, Justin Miclat of the Kinetic Group, said that Lupo and Betar’s departures convinced Twitch to reconsider the optics of its current strategy.
“Once the Lupo and Tim [Betar] announcements were made — and how those announcements were made — it became a lot more collaborative in terms of how Twitch would look to and is looking to champion Nick as the face of their platform,” Miclat explained. “Whereas before, Twitch wasn’t really trying to make it such that they’re really celebrating these new deals or creating this expectation that big streamers are going to get big checks and big paydays every time a deal comes up.”
When Lupo and Betar left Twitch, both cited a desire to spend more time with their families — with the former discussing the mental health toll a years-long, nonstop streaming schedule had taken on him. In addition to large sums of money, YouTube offered the option to ease off streaming and create other forms of content like prerecorded videos and shorts. Kolcheff, on the other hand, plans to maintain the streaming pace he’s set.
“I’ve always been a streaming-first creator, and I’m looking forward to staying on that grind,” he said, noting that the plan going forward is “more of what we’ve always done, but better.”
Miclat added that Kolcheff will actually be streaming more than before for the next couple years.
“We weren’t really looking to take his foot off the gas to, say, act more and do things off-stream to broaden his horizons,” Miclat said. “We’re still very much in the phase of building a lot of the momentum and not just maintaining, but continuing to grow.”
Miclat explained that the decision to focus on Twitch — while other big streamers diversify into Hollywood and beyond — made sense from a standpoint of “impact and engagement.”
“I think it’s a huge accomplishment when you’re able to see yourself in a movie or a TV show for a cameo,” he said. “I mean, look at ‘Free Guy’ and how Pokimane, Ninja and Jacksepticeye were able to be included in a feature film. We’re still very much of the opinion that while those things are valuable and good resume builders, we and Nick just enjoy the ability to interact and engage with audiences on a deeper level.”
Miclat went on to say that this doesn’t mean Kolcheff will be avoiding non-streaming opportunities entirely, and his streams will include variety — whether that means playing games like “Call of Duty,” working out, hosting tournaments or any number of other activities — so as to ensure that he’s not just mundanely putting in his hours each week. The goal, said Miclat, is to make things “as easy and organic as possible” for Kolcheff.
This, Kolcheff said, will include support from Twitch. The company has previously backed Kolcheff-hosted giveaway streams, tournaments and in-person events, and he said that “this deal will help us take all those to the next level while introducing new content, upping our production value and finding new ways to engage the community.”
While many streamers have grown increasingly candid about their struggles with burnout, Kolcheff plans, for better or worse, to keep going full steam ahead.
“Gaming is always changing,” he replied when asked about the looming specter of burnout. “There’s always something to explore or a new mountain to climb. With any game I play, I’m really passionate about competing at a high level and connecting with my audience in a real, genuine way. That, plus the support of my family and team, [is] all I need to stay focused for the long term.”