After weeks of rumors and reports (from individuals "close to the matter") that game-streaming site Twitch.tv would be acquired by Google, the story suddenly changed yesterday. Early in the day other "close to the matter" individuals were reporting that Amazon, not Google, would be buying Twitch, and by the afternoon it was official as both Amazon and Twitch confirmed the deal. Amazon will "acquire all of the outstanding shares of Twitch for approximately $970 million in cash, as adjusted for the assumption of options and other items." The deal is expected to close by the end of this year.
So what does this mean for Twitch users? According to Twitch, not much:
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.
A quick trip around the comment sections of various gaming sites that covered the news suggests that most gamers (or more accurately I guess, most of the gamers who comment on stories) are happy that it was Amazon and not Google. I think Google burned its bridges with gamers (among others) when it started using Google+ for YouTube comments, and flagging gameplay videos for copyright violations.
But speaking of YouTube, what will happen there? Earlier this month Twitch announced changes to the way it was storing archived videos and gave everyone three weeks to export their old videos or lose them forever. They offer a YouTube exporter to help you move your old content over to YouTube.
They later backed down a bit from their initial position, which limited on-Twitch storage of archived video to "highlight" clips that couldn't run longer than two hours. Specifically they ditched the two hour limitation, meaning you could record a 20 hour speed run and call the whole thing a 'highlight' and keep it stored on Twitch.
All this was going on right around the time that the Google purchase rumors were running hot. It's tempting to speculate that the shift from "archive on YouTube" back to "archive on Twitch" may have happened as the Google deal fell through. Pure speculation on my part and in the long run it probably doesn't matter now that the Amazon deal is done.
I'm finding this all very interesting. I'm wondering how, or if, Amazon plans to integrate Twitch into its world. I expect in the short run we'll get really good Twitch apps for Kindle Fire Tablets and Fire TV (there already are Twitch apps for these devices but I don't know how good they are; traditionally Twitch apps haven't been great) but I wonder in the longer run if Twitch will somehow be integrated into Amazon Instant Video?
And of course, Amazon is all about selling, right? So how long until you'll see a "Buy now from Amazon" button embedded somewhere in the stream of a popular game. This could in theory help Amazon grow its gaming sales if it is done in a way that doesn't just irritate Twitch viewers. Pro-tip for Amazon: give the customer a 10% discount if they purchase through Twitch. Or maybe give the streamer 5% of all sales they drive to you.
I'm really not sure what to expect from all this, so let's crowd-source some ideas. What do you think this acquisition will mean for Twitch? Please share your ideas in the comments!
Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.