PokerStaples accuses Gripsed of Viewbotting on Twitch4 years ago
While watching a stream on Twitch is an exceedingly easy venture – type, click, type, click, view – actually streaming on the website is another matter entirely. The limited pool of viewers makes for a fickle mistress, and even popular streamers often see significant dips in their fans after even relatively short breaks. This may not be so important for the many people streaming on twitch as a pastime or as a means of show off fun possibilities and exceptional talents.
For a select few, though, a twitch stream allows one to turn a hobby into an honest profession. For them, viewers are not just a ranking but a means to making a living. Every viewer counts, and being the most watched or subscribed streamer has distinct and real benefits.
Among the most challenging of the twitch streaming professions is our favorite game: professional poker. People who stream online poker games to make a living have to survive crazy (80+ hour) work weeks, and keep abnormal schedules (particularly those streaming from different time zones). Moreover, their viewership is not tied just to their own entertainment value, but their ability to win successfully at a game with an intense amount of luck based variance. There is no doubt that it is hard work.
Today’s article will address one of the heinous crimes one can commit in the niche that is twitch streaming: using a viewbot. We want to clarify that we are sharing speculation about real numbers, nothing here is confirmed.
What is a Viewbot?
A viewbot is a simple program that watches your streams and videos, be they on Twitch, Youtube, Vimeo, or something else, in order to increase the number of views and hence the relative popularity of the video. If this doesn’t seem like a huge deal to you, consider the following. On Twitch.tv, streams with more views are better promoted than streams with less, and hence, are moved to the top of search lists and are featured on the front page. More promotion means more viewers, more viewers means more money.
If someone is rigging the system by inflating their own numbers, they can be pushed ahead of streams that are more popular and more deserving of promotion. This essentially robs people of a portion of their livelihood and forces honest streamers to either get on the bandwagon or lose out.
The biggest problem is that Twitch is finding a real challenge in regulating these viewbots. According to the discussion on Reddit, use is running rampant across the site and there isn’t much to do. Among the streamers, particularly those who stream as a living, there is largely just a code of honor between bots and honesty.
So Who Cheated?
We’re talking about viewbots today because famous twitch poker streamer, Jaime Staples, saw some strange viewer trends on the stream of fellow player, Gripsed. Remember, as we move into this discussion, that the following is speculation based on viewer trends. Jaime presented the two major pieces of evidence as follows.
Twitch viewers tend to follow a very linear pattern. As the day progresses and the stakes get higher, more viewers tune in. Brief dips occur during breaks, meals, and other pauses in play. Jaime even shared a graph of his own viewers to show what a standard graph might look like.
Now check out what Gripsed’s graph looks like.
He climbs 1500+ viewers in the span of two hours, and then practically flatlines at that high rate for the rest of the night. This seems fishy for two reasons. First, having a massive jump during the beginning of play is unlikely. While many top streamers may start with a good number do to fans joining right at the beginning, the fact that Gripsed starts under 300 and then quintuples is peculiar to say the least. This could be do to a great early hand that send him deep fast, but according to Staples,
This is pre ante, early stage, no deep run poker."
More importantly, however, is the slow gain after that initial burst. Gripsed gains about 80 followers an hour for the rest of the night. If the action was so good for two hours, and still good enough to maintain that high bar of viewers, why didn’t it keep climbing? Again, it’s possible that every fan of Gripsed’s showed up early to the show and then no one else was interested, but it doesn’t match typical trends.
As Staples says,
25/50 blinds with 150BB in a homegame on 888 is not going to bring in 1000 viewers in an hour!"
The Second Piece
The second piece of evidence concerns another graph, this one covering Gripsed’s average viewer numbers over a long stretch of time.
Jaime explains it best, so I’ll let him do the talking.
That graph is the span of 437 days of his channel. See the end where there is a flat line? That is 29 days off in a row. Following taking a whole month off where a community will generally lose lots of strength (speaking from experience) his average viewership has risen in the last 6 days by 180 people without any deep runs! This is simply impossible.”
While it is challenging for me to speculate, as I don’t run my own stream, the whole graph does look strange. For more than 2/3rds of the stretch, Gripsed was on a slow downhill trend. The climb comes quite quickly, and the dead flat lines do seem awry as I would guess that real people don’t tend to watch that consistently every day. Similarly, Staples’ point that viewership would drop off during a month long absence makes logical sense to me even if I have no direct reference for it as truth.
Of course, there is another side to this. What if the upswing came from a new add campaign or a big event that brought him to the attention of new viewers? What if he crossed some threshold and started getting featured more often? Strange numbers imply, but don't prove, and we would be wise to not jump too far head with conclusions. I'm not saying that we could contact all 1500+ of Gripsed's viewers, but maybe we need to see another side to the story.
Unfortunately, Gripsed has yet to comment on the situation. And, while this kind of action would be shameful, there may not be much to do to reprimand a culprit if is there is one at all. Hopefully things work out as I would hate to see some of the hard working steamers lose out on their just dividends.
However, I am not here to pass judgement, only to share a story with you. If you have more experience with twitch streaming or can think of a better reason for these trends, pelase don’t hesitate to share them. And, as always, thank you for reading.
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