BERKELEY, California – In 2010, LeBron James made “The Decision”, leaving his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat and overturning N.B.A.
Several months ago, Tom Brady shocked the N.F.L. choosing to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and leaving his longtime team, the New England Patriots, with whom he had won six Super Bowls.
And on Thursday, Tyler Blevins, a 29-year-old video game superstar known as Ninja, made a choice that sparked similar reverberations in the gaming world. The Fortnite player, who became famous by broadcasting his game live to millions of fans, said he would return to stream exclusively on Twitch, the platform owned by Amazon where he built his huge following.
To accompany the decision, he posted a short video on Twitter in which he stared at the camera while playing upbeat music. “A new chapter begins …”, the video said, followed by a bomb emoji, animated images of Mr. Blevins, and finally, the big reveal: the purple Twitch logo.
“In this next chapter, I will make an important point to raise and bring more eyes to the underrepresented creators,” Blevins said. “I’m looking forward to working with Twitch to demonstrate how this amazing community of players can make a significant impact.”
The terms of the multi-year deal between Mr. Blevins and Twitch weren’t clear, but the move was a win for the platform. Twitch has dominated the video game live streaming industry, but it does lost Mr. Blevins to the Mixer platform, which was owned by Microsoft, in 2019. Mr. Blevins reportedly made $ 20 million to $ 30 million to switch to Mixer, until Mixer announced a June that was closing.
In the months that followed, the time when Mr. Blevins would end was the subject of rampant speculation. Fans even pointed to the color of her brightly dyed hair as proof of which platform she could have chosen.
Mr. Blevins fueled the gossip with cryptic tweets and a brief streaming appearance of his signature game, Fortnite, on YouTube in July. His return to Twitch immediately delighted fans and other streamers alike.
Twitch vice president Michael Aragon said the site is “thrilled” with the return of its main attraction.
“Tyler is an iconic force in the gamer community and it was amazing to see the impact he has had on the industry and wider culture,” Aragon said in a statement. “The game – and the people who love it – are now being recognized by a large mainstream audience in part thanks to Tyler, and we know he’s just getting started.”
Mr. Blevins has an almost unparalleled ability to attract a following. While he hasn’t streamed on Twitch since leaving last year, he’s still the site’s top streamer, with 15 million followers – six million more than the next streamer. Thursday afternoon he was supposed to celebrate his return with a live stream.
Doron Nir, chief executive of live streaming service provider StreamElements, said Blevins’ move was the latest salvo in the live streaming battle fought by major sites.
“Ninja’s return to Twitch helps solidify it as a prime destination for live streaming, but the other platforms are still alive and well,” he said, pointing to YouTube and Facebook Gaming.