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Why Amazon bought Twitch: Here are four possible reasons

Andrew Hayward | Sept. 4, 2014
We decided to explore some of the scenarios that make Twitch an appealing new addition to the Amazon family.

Maybe. But that sounds like a minefield with limited upside. Twitch streamers are in the business of entertainment, and they can be brash and vulgar at times; you don't want grandma stumbling upon explicit content when shopping for junior.

Beyond that, what's to stop you from entering a stream that's packed with spoilers for the game you wanted to play? What about copyright violation issues? Amazon is probably better off sticking with vetted trailers for its retail business. The prospect of hosting exclusive, "official" pre-release streams to drive game pre-orders doesn't sound like a bad idea, however.

Still, while Twitch specializes in gaming, Amazon has just acquired a livestreaming juggernautand the Twitch tech could be tapped to stream all kinds of live entertainment to Amazon devices in the home or on the go. Video games made Twitch huge, but now it has the capability to deliver live video of any sort, and Amazon's hulking web infrastructure can handle it.

Scenario 3: Make a big splash in the gaming world

The Fire TV didn't exactly light up the world of gaming as a cheap microconsole, but Amazon has been making serious moves in the video game world. In February, it acquired Double Helix, the developer of Killer Instinct on Xbox One, and then in April, noted game designers Kim Swift (Portal) and Clint Hocking (Far Cry 2) both joined Amazon Game Studios. Surely Amazon aims to tap into that talent to create original games.

Where does Twitch fit into this? Not only does Twitch provide a great service that Amazon can use to promote its own games, but perhaps just as importantly, it's a great brand. For many gamers, Twitch is the way they find out about new games, build community with like-minded players, and immerse themselves in the culture. Amazon could tap that brand to further its own game creation efforts, whether it's a means of reaching players or simply benefitting from the name recognition.

What if the next Fire TV is designed to be more of a gaming consolea bundled controller would be a nice startwith original games and Twitch streaming available from the outset? Maybe Amazon has even more cool gadgets and tech in the works, like with the Fire Phone, which could be used to create the kind of unique games that creative talent can really tap into. Twitch's brand power could be essential in reaching entrenched gaming fans and turn them onto something new.

Scenario 4: What about interactive streaming games?

OnLive jump-started the conversation on cloud-powered gamingthat is, playing a game on nearly any device over the Internet while a remote server somewhere actually powers the software. That way, you don't need powerful hardware, just something with a screen and a connection. And Sony dropped $380 million on Gaikai to power its PlayStation Now service, which streams older games over the cloud to newer consoles and other devices.

 

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