Amazon Buys Twitch to Change the Game for Non-Gamers
As the act of watching others play video games is increasingly becoming a spectator sport, Amazon has just captured the world’s largest arena. The company that first made their money selling books, diapers, and pet food, just spent nearly a billion dollars to help build a business that rakes in the revenue from games and media.
On Monday, August 25, Amazon announced that they purchased Twitch Interactive for a cool $970,000,000. For those who are unaware, Twitch is an online game streamer, where users can upload videos of themselves commenting on their play. Other users may choose to be more passive and idly watch in amazement as gamers become the Street Fighter World Champion in Ultra Street Fighter IV, or as they create imaginative structures and worlds in Minecraft.
One may be shocked that watching others play video games is actually a thing (like myself, for instance). Yet, nearly 1.35% of all Internet traffic is devoted to this activity. Twitch has a large piece of this audience and impressive numbers to boot, including: 55 million unique users a month, 15 billion minutes of viewed content every month, and 1 million broadcast partners. That’s a lot of eyeballs.
To some, Amazon’s acquisition comes as a surprise. Why would the giant online shopping cart want anything to do with gaming? After all, Google seems like a more natural fit, since similar gamer channels already exist on YouTube (e.g., PewDiePIe and VanossGaming). Apparently, Google did want a piece of the action, and offered to buy Twitch for a true $ 1 Billion back in May of this year. Unfortunately for Google, Twitch shied away from the deal due to potential antitrust law violations, since YouTube and Twitch are competing sources for gamers. In the midst of this breakup, Amazon swooped in and claimed their prize.
What will Twitch do for Amazon?
The union between Amazon and Twitch is not as mismatched as some may think, however. First, Amazon is already the second biggest distributor of games (after Steam), and this purchase is poised to help them capture a bigger share of that lucrative market.
Second, Twitch will help Amazon more aggressively compete as a YouTube rival. There is a growing demand for streamed content, and Amazon wants to be apart of that. Twitch owns technology for streaming live video capable of supporting a large number of simultaneous viewers for events like game tournaments and music concerts. When coupled with Amazon’s loyal followers of consuming soccer moms and students, there is great potential for Amazon to change the game for non-gamers. The partnership may help facilitate Amazon’s pre-existing clientele with streaming of concerts, press conferences, and even weddings or baby showers.
Third, Amazon is pretty set on breaking into the gaming industries for themselves. They already offer their own set-top box, the Fire TV, as a gaming platform and have been pushing Amazon Game Studios.
What will Amazon do for Twitch?
A gamer might be concerned that Twitch being bought out is only good news for the corporation and bad news for the customer. Yet, there may be plenty to rejoice over. For one, it’s expected that there will now be a direct link to buy whatever game you’re watching on Twitch. Also, Amazon’s deep pockets and technological infrastructure means better compression rates for the gamer and easier streaming for those with poor internet connections.
Rest assured, a major benefactor is a WIN for gamers. With additional funds and an empire of tech-savvy employees, Amazon can help Twitch (and vice versa) become an innovative and explorative mecca for the online gamer.
 Davies, Richard. “Why Amazon is Buying Gamer Site Twitch.” 26 Aug. 2014. ABC News. http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/2014/08/why-amazon-amzn-is-buying-gamer-site-twitch/
 Chang, Andrea and Salvador Rodriguez. “Amazon gains valuable entertainment asset with purchase of Twitch.” 25 Aug. 2014. LA Times. http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-amazon-twitch-20140826-story.html
 Grubb, Jeffrey. “Amazons Twitch Acquisition is about beating Google and Apple.” 26 Aug. 2014. VentureBeat. http://venturebeat.com/2014/08/26/amazons-twitch-acquisition-is-about-beating-google-and-apple/
 Macmillan, Douglas and Greg Bensinger. “Amazon’s Play: Videogames as Sport.” 26 Aug. 2014. The Wall Street Journal. http://online.wsj.com/articles/amazon-to-buy-video-site-twitch-for-more-than-1-billion-1408988885
 Mekler, Ben. “What does Amazon’s Twitch Purchase Mean for You?” 26 Aug. 2014. Nerdist. http://www.nerdist.com/vepisode/what-does-amazons-twitch-purchase-mean-for-you/