In a sizable confession post over on r/hearthstone which has since been removed, a former partnership manager for one of the largest Twitch viewbotting services has offered a peak behind the curtain of this illicit business. During his time at Streamboosters, reddit user chrisangushf1 boosted over 100,000 views for various Hearthstone channels, using thousands of bots to masquerade as fake viewers and chat users to bolster stream numbers for select clients.
In an imgur post attached to the larger confession, Chris offers a glimpse of the control panel that he used while working as a viewbotter, displaying how he could tweak the rate of chatter from his bot network, as well as the targets he was tasked to hit on a shift.
Besides viewbotting, Chris was tasked with testing Twitch’s bot scans to see how many bots could be deployed at a time before they were logged as suspicious for only viewing a select group of channels. With 10,000 bots at his disposal, Chris deployed his bots to view certain large Hearthstone streamers like Amaz and Forsen to test how bots could avoid detection. Angus is quick to clarify that these streamers did not ask for his services and that their spike in views was just as a result of his testing.
Using stream VODs as evidence, Chris shows how he was able to massively increase the viewer count of select Hearthstone streamers, with his bots inflating viewer figures with as much as 10,000 extra viewers whenever these channels went live.
As another experiment with his allotment of 10,000 bots, Chris displays how easy it was to flood stream chats with spam, causing absolute havoc for any real viewers trying to engage with the stream. A lot of these large channels have messy chats to begin with so adding bots to the mix is adding fuel to an already raging fire. However, engaging with chat and swapping between channels did actually help these bots fly under the radar, as they seemed like active human viewers rather than automated systems.
Chris does clarify that the number of users in the chat does not necessarily link to the amount of bots that may be deployed in a stream, but most viewbotting sites can just add more chatters as part of their service. Increasing chatters in a botted stream can actually decrease the chances of detection by Twitch, but heavily moderated chats curtail this tactic.
With his departure from the viewbotting business, Chris admits that multiple big Hearthstone channels have experienced a drop in viewers, due to his bots retiring from their routines. He warns that botting will get you found out eventually and in many cases if bots do get your channel into the top 10, “people will leave if you’re not entertaining to watch.”
While Chris states that the botting industry did take a large hit as Twitch increased its efforts to clamp down on fake viewers, there are still services out there who are actively trying to scam people and bolster channel numbers. Even though there is a dedicated squad of Twitch programmers who are out hunting bots, Angus implores fellow viewers to simply report any channel suspected of botting and then move on.