Earlier this month, we shared that the US Army started up their own Twitch channel and it very much did not go the way they expected it to, but pretty much the way everyone else did. Before we dive into why they tucked tail, there is a small preface we'd like to start this report with.
As mentioned in our previous coverage, "To preface this entire article: I am a veteran. I was US Navy that went greenside with the Marines for flight ops with two tours overseas. This article is not dismissing the military as an idea and is not being written from a place of ignorance.". The military has always recruited heavily at a young age and even using games as well, but the move to Twitch was far too aggressive than many felt comfortable with, especially when targeting viewers as young as 12.
The news of the retreat came by way of esports consultant Rod 'Slasher' Breslau following a 13-day dark period where no streams occurred. According to Breslau, the US Army made the decision to halt their presence on social media immediately following the backlash regarding fake giveaways being used to lead young viewers to the recruitment page with no actual giveaway, the ones advertised, being active.
according to one email seen, while there is no official time frame for a return of the US Army across social media or on their Twitch channel, official marketing activations may not see a return until all the way in Spring 2021— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) July 22, 2020
The US Army's retreat is temporary at this time, though Twitch continues on with their official partnership with both the Navy and the Army. Another reason for the backlash was that people in chat were flooding the community area with questions about war crimes and why that has a place on Twitch, a chat trend that quickly led to many users being banned. Despite the Army's weird attempt to look harmless with their "UwU *hearts* responses, the internet was not content to give this new marketing tool a fair shake.
This pause also follows US Army Ranger Joshua 'Strotnium" David telling the Twitch audience "I'm bigger than you" in response to the onslaught of messages, "I think every post that I do from now on is going to say 'UwU' in it, just to flex. Y'all gonna go talk all that crap to my angel on the esports team, the nicest person in the entire world. Little internet keyboard monsters is what you are. I won't stand for that. I'm bigger than you."
That aggregated response only caused the chat to become more active and heavy inquiries into the MSF hospital bombing in Afghanistan back in 2015, which then led to more bans. As we've mentioned previously, the US Army (and other branches) recruiting at a young age is nothing new, nor is using video games as a method of enticement. That being said, those recruitment efforts were always done on a small scale, making it easier to gauge - and control - the reaction from hopefuls. With Twitch, there is no control. This is a community that is as passionate as it is interactive, so controlled recruitment isn't going to go the way they expect when going the streaming route.
With AOC actively looking into preventative measures from the military using Twitch as a recruitment tool, it will be interesting to see what the fate of this Twitch foray ends up being.
Thoughts on the US Army's retreat following Twitch backlash? Sound off over on Twitter @PrimaGames.