Top gamer ‘Ninja’ returns to Amazon Twitch after year-long hiatus

Time celebrates its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world, in New York
FILE PHOTO: Professional gamer Richard Tyler Blevins aka Ninja arrives for the Time 100 Gala celebrating Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world in New York, U.S., April 23, 2019. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

September 10, 2020

(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc’s <AMZN.O> video game live-streaming platform Twitch said on Thursday that top computer gamer Ninja has returned to its platform, more than a year after switching to Microsoft Corp’s <MSFT.O> live-streaming service Mixer.

Tyler Blevins, known to millions as Ninja, rose to stardom playing battle-royale phenomenon “Fortnite” and is one of the world’s most-followed computer gamer.

Microsoft bought Mixer in 2016 hoping to rope in millions of paying subscribers looking to watch live streams of their favorite gamers playing popular games such as Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto.

The videogame industry has largely benefited amid the COVID-19 pandemic as people played more games while staying at home and bought virtual in-game content across platforms, pushing June sales up 26% to $1.2 billion. It is the highest June spend in over a decade, according to research firm NPD.

Mixer, which had booked Ninja last year, has struggled to leave the shadow of market leader Twitch despite online streaming viewership booming under coronavirus lockdowns. Microsoft’s Xbox division made the decision to close down the live-streaming service in June this year.

Ninja, who has over 15 million followers on Twitch, kicked off his stream today with the “Fall Guys” game.

Last year, Blevins was paid $1 million to promote Electronic Arts Inc’s <EA.O> Apex Legends, a move that helped the videogame maker add 10 million sign-ups in the first three days, Reuters reported. (https://reut.rs/2DNS42V)

The gamer had previously streamed himself playing alongside celebrities such as rappers Drake and Travis Scott, has sponsorship deals with Red Bull and Uber Eats and often appears on Instagram and Twitter alongside soccer players Neymar Jr and Harry Kane.

(Reporting by Neha Malara in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)