After announcing his exclusivity to Twitch on Dec. 10, Ben "DrLupo" Lupo has secured the bag. Now, he plans to secure one for a good cause.
The 32-year-old professional streamer and content creator will present a 24-hour stream called "Build Against Cancer" on his channel with an ambitious goal: $2 million toward St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Last year Lupo's stream raised just over $600,000. At Guardian Con last July, his efforts produced over $900,000 in four hours. The $2 million mark would set the record for most money raised in a 24-hour stream, but that's not what it's about.
"It's about helping people that are in situations where sometimes they can't help themselves," he said. "I've been to St. Jude. I've met the kids that we will be raising money for. I've seen them in person. I've seen what they're going through, and no child should have to deal with that. Ultimately, even if I raise only a dollar on Saturday, that is still one dollar towards kids that need it."
Build Against Cancer will mark the first major event from DrLupo after his Twitch announcement. Popular streamers Tim "TimTheTatman" Betar and Saqib "Lirik" Zahid also announced that they will remain on the Amazon-owned platform exclusively the same day.
Nearing 3.7 million followers, DrLupo boasts the ninth-largest account on the site. He notes that the current streaming climate, dubbed "The Streamer Wars" between Twitch, Mixer, YouTube Gaming and Facebook Gaming, is very favorable for the creators.
"Even before [Tyler "Ninja" Blevins left Twitch for Mixer in August], there were people that left the platform that didn't really get the pomp and circumstance like that," DrLupo said. "But people have been, for a while, signing exclusivity deals with other platforms. They got the ball rolling, showing that content creators are more like free agents than they are like, 'This is where I live.'"
While DrLupo couldn't discuss deal specifics, he did speak on his decision process. He had other offers on the table, one that he seriously considered, but in the end, Twitch's reach to help those he wants to help was too much to pass up.
Although much of the reaction online to DrLupo's signing has been positive, other streamers, particularly those who left Twitch for another platform, and even DrLupo himself to an extent, have experienced backlash from critics for selling out and making their decision primary about money. DrLupo believes that opinion is misguided and that these decisions should be lauded rather than condemned.
DrLupo believes the Streamer Wars will only help the industry grow and inspire creativity. A monopoly, he said, stifles innovation.
"There's no shame in getting a promotion for money," he said. "So in the [announcement] video at the end, I even said, 'There's nothing wrong with securing the bag.' There's no shame in that. I'm not ashamed of the fact that I re-signed with Twitch and because of that am able to secure my family's financial future, just like every other person in the entire planet is trying to do."
Apart from the lucrative deals that DrLupo and other streamers of his caliber are being offered, streamers are also finding themselves with unique opportunities outside of the gaming space. Guy "Dr. Disrespect" Beahm recently signed a TV development deal with Skybound Entertainment, owned by Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman. Ninja has become a talk show regular and just released a collaboration with Adidas.
DrLupo's approach is different. He is quite happy with where he is (which offers rare, and random, opportunities like JJ Abrams calling him before the Star Wars Fortnite event), but does have one specific career bucket list item. He wants to be a Stormtrooper in a Star Wars film.
"I don't need to speak a line," DrLupo said. "I just want to be able to go to a movie theater afterwards, tap my wife on the shoulder and go, 'Baby, that one -- that one right there -- that's me.' That's enough for me, dude."