Amazon is to purchase video-game streaming site Twitch for almost $1bn, the firms announced on Monday.
The acquisition sees Amazon gazumping Google, which had previously all-but-confirmed its own acquisition of the company before balking at the last minute, reportedly due to antitrust concerns.
Twitch allows gamers worldwide to film themselves playing video games and stream the resulting shows live to the site’s total user base of 50 million people monthly.
It has become a key part of the competitive gaming circuit, letting audiences of up to 30 million people watch professional gamers go head-to-head in massively popular video games such as League of Legends and Dota 2. The purchase will see Amazon acquiring all outstanding shares in Twitch for $970m in cash.
“Broadcasting and watching gameplay is a global phenomenon and Twitch has built a platform that brings together tens of millions of people who watch billions of minutes of games each month – from The International, to breaking the world record for Mario, to gaming conferences like E3. And, amazingly, Twitch is only three years old,” said Amazon’s founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.
Twitch ‘chose’ Amazon
Twitch’s CEO, Emmett Shear, said that the company “chose” Amazon “because they believe in our community, they share our values and long-term vision, and they want to help us get there faster.
“We’re keeping most everything the same: our office, our employees, our brand, and most importantly our independence. But with Amazon’s support we’ll have the resources to bring you an even better Twitch.”
Amazon’s acquisition of Twitch was confirmed on the same day that details leaked about a new product, Amazon Sponsored Links, designed to hit Google where it hurts: advertising. The firm could eventually compete head-on with Google over keyword advertising, currently dominated by the search provider’s AdWords service, but for now the plans only extend as far as replacing Google’s ads on Amazon with its own in-house creation, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Amazon Sponsored Links combined with Twitch would offer Amazon an easy way to begin raising serious amounts of revenue from its live-streaming business. But the company has other investments that Twitch could pair well with. Amazon Game Studios was founded in 2012 to make video games for the company’s Fire line of tablets and set-top boxes.
For the first few years, it ran fairly quietly, but since the beginning of 2014, the company has ramped up investment in the division, going on a hiring spree to bulk out the office – including hiring former Bioshock designer Ian Vogel to head the studio.
Google already owns gamer networks on YouTube
Although Amazon has now sealed the deal, as early as May this year there were rumours that Twitch was for sale, to a different suitor. Google was rumoured to be interested in the firm, with a $1bn offer said to be on the table, beating Amazon by $30m. But then the firm backed off, and the reason seems to be anti-trust fears.
Google’s ownership of video site YouTube already gives it control of the only other major destination for gamers wanting to watch their favourite hobby, and Forbes’ Ryan Mac says that the company was concerned that could lead to it being accused of monopolistic actions.
Although some users are inevitably announcing their intent to abandon Twitch for independent alternative Hitbox, many are expressing their happiness at the news – and particularly at the fact that Google lost out. “This will open the doors to a worthy YouTube alternative,” says one, while another concedes that “this seems like the better alternative. No Google fucking up everything.”
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