In a move that took the video game industry completely by surprise, Amazon has announced that it has purchased Twitch in a $970 million cash deal. Reports earlier in the year suggested that Google were set to buy the video game streaming site through their YouTube brand in a similar $1 billion deal. The deal should be confirmed later in the year according to the retail giant.
The move follows Amazon’s foray into areas other than retail. They have been working to compete with streaming sites like Netflix and Hulu for some time, launching their own service known as Amazon Instant Video. The acquisition of Twitch gives Amazon access to a hugely dedicated set of viewers in the gamer demographic. The company previously did not cater for this audience. Analysts stating that they believe it will allow them to compete with the likes of YouTube, as Twitch is the biggest game streaming site on the web.
In a statement released to the BBC, Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos said: “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.
“We look forward to learning from them and helping them move even faster to build new services for the gaming community,” he explained.
Twitch began as a spin-off of the site Justin.tv three years ago and has grown exponentially in the last year. It gained international exposure earlier in the summer thanks to the Twitch Plays Pokémon phenomenon where thousands of people were able to play a series of games collectively through the stream.
Meanwhile Forbes reports that sources close to Google have suggested that Google pulled out of the deal to buy Twitch, a deal that was almost finalized, mainly due to fears that they would breach antitrust laws from owning the streaming site and YouTube.