Thursday, September 4, 2014

Will the Amazon Purchase Destroy Twitch? By Eli English

     A couple of months ago, it was rumored that Google would be buying It made sense for Google, as they already owned YouTube, and Twitch has a large amount of broadcasters who upload videos to YouTube. They rely on this relationship to pay their bills.  My initial reaction to this was one of "OHGODNO" for various reasons, between YouTube's content-ID system and the possible ads that would be forced onto the site. That deal never happened. Instead, Twitch has been purchased by Amazon.

     "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," said Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in a press release. "Like Twitch, we obsess over customers and like to think differently, and we look forward to learning from them and helping them move even faster to build new services for the gaming community."

     Now, I think there are pros and cons to this purchase. First off, Amazon has a HUGE audience. If they can sponsor Twitch and give amazing veteran broadcasters and hopeful new streamers more viewers, I'm all for it. Secondly, Amazon has a lot of money and resources it can pour into Twitch. That is both a pro and a con. The major positive for me is that this might unintentionally help video game championships become a much more normal event, in addition to allowing gaming athletes to earn far more than they were previously making. This is already happening -- video game athletes can now apply for special visas which are usually reserved for professional athletes, gaming events are now being held in places like the Staples Center in LA, with more then 13,000 attendees watching teams fight it out for a $1.6 million prize pool. But with Amazon -- one of the biggest shopping sites on the planet, if not THE biggest -- backing Twitch now, it can only help to make events like these more normal in the eyes of many.

     So, why is that bad? Marketing. Let me elaborate. Amazon has tons of resources it can pull and usually has MORE then enough video game codes, video game swag, not to mention connections to big time developers and publishers. So it's only natural that we'll more than likely see popular streamers on Twitch being donated newly released or soon-to-be released titles. Now, try to see it from their perspective. You're a decently popular streamer. Suddenly, you're offered a copy of a game no one has streamed yet -- not only that, but EVERYONE wants this game. You agree and the developer, PR rep, CEO, whoever, is super nice to you. Not only that, but they go out of their way to answer whatever questions you have and tries to show you how awesome their new game is. This usually leads to streamers, YouTube show hosts, whomever, to back down from their opinions and see the game through tunnel vision. Suddenly, mediocre games are AWESOME games. Bad games are "eh, pretty good." Just to add some more fear to this idea, imagine if we have more games like Aliens: Colonial Marines where the developers flat out lied and showed fake gameplay footage. Imagine if a streamer broadcast and raved about it being amazing and told all their followers to go secure their copy ASAP. Then imagine the game that everyone was hyped for turned out to be a piece of crap. 

     On that same note, Amazon does offer a little less in this deal than Google. Yeah, they're a huge distributor -- but they also have TERRIBLE business practices and continue to refuse to change. With the recent release of the Amazon Fire phone (which has very mixed reviews due to a reported poor battery life, missing apps and a bad speaker system) and their more recent purchase of Twitch, I'm worried that Twitch might go down the drain. But, for now, we'll just have to wait and see what happens. Fingers crossed. Will The Amazon Purchase Destroy Twitch?

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