When Twitch streamers become rich: Why are fans outraged?

Hasan and Neekolul on TwitchTwitch: Hasanabi / YouTube: Neekolul

Hasan Piker has bought a home worth nearly $3m in West Hollywood. The Twitch streaming superstar has accumulated a massive following on the platform, and this pays handsomely. But for some reason, outrage has ensued. And it’s not the first time fans have been angered by a streamer spending their money.

Earlier in 2021, 100 Thieves member neekolul faced the brunt of the internet’s ire when she purchased a similarly pricey apartment. Both Hasan and neekolul have been criticized and shamed for buying homes with money they’ve earned making content and streaming.

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There is the political angle of course – both streamers have espoused “socialist” views in the past, and so some argue that there is hypocrisy in now being rich. But that’s not the whole story. After all, Hasan has been by far one of the most-watched streamers for almost 2 years. He’s been wealthy that entire time. So why the hate now?

Really, the issue is the nature of parasocial relationships – or when fans suddenly realize that these streamers are not the guy/girl next door they thought they were.

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Neekolul's expensive apartment tourYouTube: Neekolul
Neekolul said she didn’t care how many dislikes her apartment video got.

The appeal of streamers is often just that – viewers feel they can relate to the streamer, either because they look like them, share the same views, or play the same game as them.

This leads to the common problem of parasocial relationships – an issue prominently raised by Ludwig, another Twitch streamer with millions of followers, who blew up from humble beginnings.

In a now-viral video, Ludwig made it very clear: “I am not your friend.” The message is that while a viewer might spend hours upon hours ‘with’ their favorite streamer, the streamer spends absolutely no time whatsoever with the viewer.

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When streamers get rich

Inevitably, massive popularity on Twitch comes with monetary gain. As it should – some may write off the challenges of a full-time streamer as just playing games for a living, but there is a lot of work behind the scenes that most fans won’t consider.

Of course, it’s also a very enviable job – but it’s a job nonetheless.

The “problem” occurs when the streamer who was once deemed so relatable leaves their squat apartment for a multi-million dollar home. At this point, the viewer’s perception of their favorite streamer is challenged.

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Hasan’s case is unique in that his content is very political, but this same theory applies to all content creators. Ninja is another example. In his case, he immediately attracted more haters than ever after moving home, featuring on late-night talk shows, and appearing in NFL commercials.

Neekolul was the brunt of the joke for almost a month after revealing her new pad – and there was a collective notion of surprise, as though people were blissfully unaware that becoming popular on Twitch would lead to increased earnings.

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With so many ways to make money as a content creator; sponsorships, ad revenue, subscriptions, merch, exclusive content – the days of the relatable bedroom streamer on Twitch are becoming a thing of the past, at least among the big stars.

One streamer who is perhaps acutely aware of this is Felix ‘xQc’ Lengyel. By far the most-watched individual streamer on Twitch, xQc keeps his setup very low-key. His background is uncluttered, his room is small, and he rarely, if ever, shows off any splurges.

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Despite this, his viewers are more than aware of how much a person of his popularity will be bringing in each month. But xQc is careful not to make make it a focal point of his content. His famous ‘six consoles’ rant exemplifies this.

xqc explains man with a crowbar broke into his houseTwitch/xQc
xQc’s current stream setup keeps things low-key.

But, the moment a successful and generally well-liked streamer such as Hasan is found to be spending their money – on nothing more than a place for him and his family to live – people are going as far as to send death threats.

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Don’t hate, celebrate

Hasan, Neekolul and others should feel no shame whatsoever about spending the money they have earned. And it is time for viewers to realize that if the person they are watching is also being watched by tens of thousands of other people, there is a good chance that they’re not as relatable, financially at least, as you might have thought. In fact, they’re almost certainly a millionaire.

Streamers making money like this should be cause for celebration. It brings the entire industry forward. Ninja’s rise to stardom in 2018 brought streaming more mainstream attention. Before him, shroud held the record for most subs at only around 30,000. That’s a standard now for many of the big streamers.

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Twitch itself has contributed to this too, with innovations like Gifted Subs, and more opportunities for sponsored content through Bounties.

The evolution of streamers going from their bedroom to mansions, in turn, allows more people to fulfill their own aspirations of making a living from their bedroom.

Like Hasan says, everyone collectively needs to calm down.

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