The biggest news from the gaming industry this week is the recent acquisition by Amazon of gaming platform Twitch in a $970 million deal. For those not familiar with Twitch, the video service allows users to record and stream live in-game footage, with popular content such as ‘Let’s Plays’ – recorded playthroughs of games with informative or entertaining commentary – drawing in over 55 million unique monthly views.
Amazon beat out competitor Google, who up until the last minute were heavily rumoured to be negotiating a similar sale, in the hopes of expanding their multimedia brands into the field of gaming. The company is a growing digital presence, with services like Amazon Prime Video netting them a projected $1bn in global digital income, and the addition of established platform Twitch gives them an even bigger inroad into the increasingly profitable sector.
Amazon Twitch purchase: good for Amazon
While the benefits of this deal from Amazon’s point of view are evident, many gamers are concerned about the effect a corporate takeover will have on the average user. While ads are already present within the service, there are fears that the change in ownership could result in a substantial increase in volume, negatively affecting the experience. Cautiousness over copyright infringement could also lead to further controversy, such as the recent incident when poorly-implemented audio filtering systems designed to weed out copyrighted music in videos instead mislabeled a number of legitimate recordings.
However, there are also many positive implications of this transaction. First and foremost, Twitch CEO Emmett Shear now has access to a chunk of Amazon’s vast budget, allowing unprecedented growth and expansion including the ability to license any pesky copyrighted properties. It also has the use of Amazon’s not insubstantial distribution network, which would go along way to eliminating the issues with lag that accompany Twitch’s relatively small crop of current servers.
Amazon Twitch purchase: death of creativity
Furthermore, this is simply one example of the predictable reaction whenever a large corporation purchases a smaller niche platform with a dedicated core fanbase. When Google bought YouTube in 2006, and again when Yahoo bought Tumblr last year, similar worries were expressed over the potential mis-handling of the site’s management, with vocal commenters lamenting the corporate stifling of creativity that would undoubtedly occur.
However, these deals have almost exclusively been successes; Tumblr’s user base grew by 46.7% in 2013 according to the International Business Times, and YouTube has continually expanded content, features and subscriber numbers since its incorporation into the Google brand. Visitors to all three sites are presented with better, more efficient services, with a marginal increase in ads as a tradeoff. It is a mutually beneficial compromise, and there is no reason for the relationship between Amazon and Twitch to be any different.