For some reason, which droves of streamers, viewers, and this journalist cannot figure out, Twitch is permanently removing its host mode feature on October 3. At that point, host mode, its accompanying chat command /host, and the channel settings feature Autohost will be lost to time, leaving streamers with only the raid option and its different functionality if they want to replace their stream with another when they go offline.
Twitch announced the change in a September 6 update to its “How to Use Host Mode” page, saying opaquely that it would remove the feature because “the experience it delivers to viewers doesn’t match their expectations when they come to Twitch.”
Streamers have used hosting to fill the screen with funny or interesting content or to spotlight friends during downtime, often leading viewers to something good after a stream ends. But according to Twitch, a feature that keeps fans entertained, allows streamers to live their lives offline, and brings attention to other creators, actually limits hosted channels’ “growth potential because they’re not able to build meaningful connections with […] new viewers.”
This is at least partially true. Unlike Twitch’s raids feature, which lets streamers transfer all of their current viewers to another channel, host mode retains an offline streamer’s chat, and viewers can’t directly engage with the hosted channel unless they go over to it themselves.
But large streamers, small streamers, and their fans are frustrated with Twitch’s interpretation of Hosting—many point to the fact that Hosting helps them retain viewers, promote their channels on viewer pages, and bring attention to underloved channels (though no direct engagement).
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“Twitch is now removing Hosting,” Canadian streamer MrTLexify wrote on Twitter. “I said literally 2 years ago that Twitch was going to die and you are actively witnessing it happening rn.”
“Twitch seems to be making decisions that negatively effect small creators and they just don’t care,” another streamer also wrote on Twitter. On Reddit, the news was posted to r/LivestreamFail, where one user wrote that “instead of improving the site they’re gutting it.”
But while discussing the upset, former Twitch developer Chris Gamble wrote on Twitter that once raids were introduced, they “became the way people ended their streams, and Hosting was for endorsing channels for people who visited your channel while you’re offline.”
“Hosting was a great and important feature for its time,” he said, “but it hasn’t been relevant for years now. Please think of it fondly and remember the good times, but do not worry about its retirement. I promise you, you’ll barely notice it’s gone.” Will you?