Tyler “Ninja” Blevins was surprised when he announced an exclusive first look at Gears 5’s campaign. Microsoft releases the game, and Blevins has a deal to stream exclusively on the Microsoft-owned streaming platform Mixer.
Critics and other streamers wondered if playing the game was a paid sponsorship, part of Blevins’ current deal, or just special treatment as a result of his success on Mixer. Mike Futter, a journalist and games analyst, wrote on Twitter that even when Blevins wasn’t receiving additional payment for streaming Gears 5, “if it’s a part of his contract, viewers ought to know.” In a tweet, Blevins stated he was “joining hands with Microsoft” for the stream.
A Mixer representative said Blevins “received a complimentary copy” of the game; however, they implied that he wasn’t required to stream it. The details of Blevins’ exclusivity contract with Mixer are un-revealed, making it difficult to know if there are any other commitments past utilizing the platform.
It’s hard to divorce that Blevins was given a chance to completely stream a campaign of a highly expected Microsoft game on a Microsoft-owned platform. Blevins has played Gears of War video games in the past and began his profession playing Microsoft’s Halo series; however, critics of the stream doubted whether Blevins would have been given the same chance with the game if he had been still streaming on Twitch.
There are more significant doubts on if Microsoft will proceed to do this for a few of its other big upcoming video games, like Halo Infinite. Microsoft’s spokesperson didn’t respond to a request to comment.