Mike Minton at TwitchCon 2024 - “People spend on Twitch to support the streamer”

Mike Minton talks Monetization at Twitch

Mike Minton at TwitchCon 2024 - “People spend on Twitch to support the streamer”
| Twitch
  • TwitchCon 2024 has just wrapped up, and we were on the ground at the convention!
  • We got to chat with numerous key people managing Twitch behind the scenes
  • We chatted with Mike Minton, chief monetization officer, about how people support streamers

With our interview series for TwitchCon 2024 wrapping up, we start digging into a topic that may seem unsavoury but which is very important for viewers, streamers and Twitch itself alike. And that’s monetisation, or basically, how does a platform all about just showing off yourself playing a game or doing various other mundane activities make money?

It’s a worthwhile question, after all, advertising can only get you so far. And balancing out is, like in mobile games, a fine line between feeling fair and feeling obscene.

Put simply, we’ve got to talk about it if we’re going to write about streaming.

And if you’re not familiar, we had the chance to cover TwitchCon 2024 on the ground this year. So we’re excited to bring you some of our personal one-to-ones with key management behind the massive streaming platform.

A picture of Mike Minton, one of the managers at Twitch

With all that being said, let’s dig into today's subject, Mike Minton, the chief monetization officer at Twitch.

Can you tell us a little bit more about your role at Twitch, Mike?

I'm a Chief Monetization Officer, but what that means is I help streamers make money on Twitch, and that's what I do day and night, 24-7. 

Can you tell us what your favourite mobile game is?

I may not play a ton of mobile games, but I do have a favourite one, it's Diablo Immortal, because I think it's just so well done in terms of the visuals, the mechanics, etc. My second favourite would be Call of Duty Warzone. I think it's also, again, another high quality, really good experience where the controls, visuals and everything all really come together. 

Cosplayer at Twitchcon 2024

Now, the common theme between both of these is they are PC games primarily, they got ported in a really strong way to mobile. If you were looking for a pure mobile experience, I would probably, there's a golf one, I forget the name of it, where you do trick shots, and that one's more of what I would call a classic mobile in terms of monetization experience.

What do you think of the current state of mobile gaming, and given the success of gaming on Twitch, is there any interest in facilitating this further, like streaming? 

For mobile gaming, the historical kind of thinking or experience we've had is that our focus has been PC gamers, and they don't play mobile games, and therefore when we've done things like stream mobile games, it hasn't got a lot of traction because it was actually a newer, different creator. And I would say, at the company level, I'm not necessarily aware of a strategy to deprioritize or prioritise in terms of that particular segment of streamers. 

It is inherent, though, I think an important thing to understand, or at least as a way to Twitch, Twitch is about building community, and typically long-form engagements as Dan often talks about. And typically on-the-go mobile-type gaming doesn't mean it can't be on Twitch, but the games are designed for shorter sessions which aren’t as likely to engage. This isn’t to say they can’t exist on Twitch, like Clash Royale, which was actually a fairly large game on the platform and had quite a bit of traction. 

So as far as I can tell, there's not really an inherent constraint that would prevent mobile gaming from being larger, so it's a function of creators that want to stream it, and viewers that want to build communities around those games.

More images from the Twitchcon 2024 opening ceremony So monetization is a major point of discussion on mobile. Do you see any inspiration or lessons to be learned from how monetization is handled by mobile games? 

Well when you look at some of the mobile games that use effective monetization, they lean into some common elements of collectability as a strong mechanic. They do things which you can debate from a customer perspective about what's good and bad, but in terms of having currencies that translate into other digital objects, that’s similar to us in terms of our virtual goods that we have, like with powerups now you're able to use. 

And so I think as we evolve powerups, that's where you'll see more of us taking those cues from mobile in some of the methods that work relative to merchandising and other terms.

Things like limited-timed availability, and potentially seasonal discounts. You'll see more of that as we evolve power-ups that will very much take the cues from what I call healthy mobile monetization mechanics. And then of course, while avoiding things like outrageous or predatory RNG mechanics, etc.

How do you envision the new Twitch mobile app further developing monetization for creators and streams? 

It is mostly along the lines of what I just said. The powerups we think with mobile, you know, the percentage of people that are actively engaging in chat is less because of the real estate on the device. And when people are discovering, of course, they tend to be in vertical mode, but our goal in discovery is to get you into a channel experience. 

When you get to a channel experience, most people then are in a horizontal type viewing and chat isn't always as visible or it's not as easy and convenient to chat. So most of our, you know, cheering, even subscribing to some extent, the value prop is based around that chat engagement.

The opening ceremony at Twitchcon 2024

 And so as we move forward and we evolve our mobile experience, I think you will see us focus more on power-ups specifically because it works well in terms of on the screen in addition to just being chat-based. 

Can you tell us more about what Twitch is doing in the near future to reward viewers who support streamers? Is the new look at the mobile app going to help that? 

I don't know if the new look of the mobile app specifically will help that. It is, you know, the viewer rewards side for us tend to be digital goods of some form or another participation within a hype train. The reward though is more intrinsic to helping the streamer be successful at the end of the day. So when we can combine something like a hype train and a goal mechanic or a collection of emote rewards that come from a hype train, those tend to be quite powerful. 

The golden Kappa version of our hype train is one of the most powerful mechanics we have when people see that, you know, that chase mechanic, I guess getting back to mobile monetization, they see that as something they want to go get. And so I think there's a lot of opportunity for us to push in terms of digital rewards. I don't think you'll see us focusing on viewer identity so much as the ‘I was there’ feeling, and I'll give you two examples of that.

The unveiling of the new awards at Twitchcon 2024

A good anecdote would be Pirate Software. He had the largest hype train in history, right? And we did a special thing at that time to give viewers who supported the hype train a global emote that recognized Pirate Software having the largest hype train in history. And that’s the ‘I was there’ mechanic is really powerful on Twitch.

You'll still see things like badges from 2017 TwitchCon or the 2018 Overwatch League. And I do think that works really well to reward people for their support.

And then there is the other thing I was alluding to, which is a collectability component. Like “I've had nine of 10 and I need to get the 10th one. And there are various ways for me to earn the 10th one so I can complete my collection. I can show that to others.” That would be maybe some specific things around rewarding viewers for their contribution. But ultimately people generally spend on Twitch to support the streamer. 

And they may get a reward and value out of it, but it tends to be secondary to their motivation to support the streamer.

Iwan Morris
Iwan Morris
Iwan is a Cardiff-based freelance writer, who joined the Pocket Gamer Biz site fresh-faced from University before moving to the editorial team in November of 2023.