Honkai Star Rail, the turn-based JRPG from Genshin Impact studio Hoyoverse, announced a new Twitch "incentive plan" on September 13 as a way to get people to stream and watch the game. This turned out to be quite the hornet's nest to kick, because within just weeks the Star Rail community had milked Twitch so hard that Hoyoverse has had to disable almost all of the rewards even though the event is still scheduled to run through October 15.
The rules for the Twitch event were fairly simple. You'd get in-game rewards for streaming Honkai Star Rail for at least one hour everyday. Additionally, milestones for streaming three days, five days, one week, two weeks, and three weeks would pay out big chunks of Stellar Jades, the currency used to pull for new characters and weapons in Star Rail's gacha system.
The kicker is that viewership was totally optional. Even if you streamed to absolutely nobody – which most participants would since they'd not only be new streamers but also debuting in the middle of a stampede – you'd still get the daily and milestone rewards. There are extra rewards for watchtime milestones, sure, but realistically only established streamers would ever accrue enough viewership to earn them anyway. This left the door open for potentially millions of ravenous, gacha-hungry players to rack up free Stellar Jades just by loading up OBS for an hour a day, and boy did they pile in.
Twitch Tracker illustrates just how extreme this little Twitch event was. Star Rail launched in April and saw an average of 780 concurrent streams at its height. In August, it averaged 222 active channels. This month, that jumped to a staggering 3,933 average active channels, with a peak of 18,868 – over three times the peak channel activity for the JRPG's launch month. Of course, actual viewership was far lower – less than 20% of April's – which goes to show just how many people streamed to virtually nobody in order to cash in on this Twitch event. Naturally, there's no way of knowing how many of those 'people' were actually Twitch bots.
Earlier this week, Hoyoverse updated the Twitch event page to note that "all rewards of this event have been distributed and the reward claiming access has been closed" for all but the 21-day milestone rewards. And the only reason that reward is still around – which is strange anyway since the loot is digital so it's not like Hoyo ran out of Stellar Jades – is that it hasn't even been 21 days since the event started. Yet the event is still scheduled to run through October 15. Clearly, Hoyo underestimated the lengths gacha players will go to for a free pull.
Coincidentally, Hoyoverse just announced an out-of-nowhere log-in event which will give all players 800 Stellar Jades beginning September 29. To my knowledge – which is the knowledge of someone who's played Star Rail almost every day since launch – this is the first event in the game's history that Hoyoverse hasn't announced in a patch preview stream. This does raise the question as to whether it was slapped together to sweep this Twitch implosion under the rug. That's just speculation on my part, I'm only saying that if I were a massive company that accidentally caused an avalanche, I'd probably do something like this.
Honkai Star Rail's long-awaited PS5 port is coming next month.