Twitch not content being the idiot box of gaming, expands to sales and funding

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If you're not familiar with Twitch.tv, it's a site that people visit to watch other people playing games. In other words one player decides his gaming sessions are worthy of an audience so he or she streams his view of the game to Twitch. For reasons I cannot fathom, other individuals will tune in and watch this person play.

I don't get the appeal but then I'm old and out of touch. Clearly Twitch is a 'thing' in the gaming world and is very popular. One of the major new features of the new Xbox One and Playstation 4 consoles is the ability to easily stream to Twitch. Twitch is also used to stream gaming-related events like PAX East which happened last weekend.

So Twitch is doing great but apparently they're ready to expand their horizons. Yesterday Nuclear Throne devs Vlambeer announced that you can now buy their game through Twitch. If you purchase this way you get some Vlambeer emoticons and access to their (subscription based) Twitch channel.

So now Twitch is a game store too. The oddest part of this deal is that Vlambeer gets 60% of what you pay. An article at Gamasutra points out that they get 70% if you buy through Steam and 90% if you buy through the Humble Store. It's not clear if Twitch gets the remaining 40% or if that amount is distributed between Twitch and Steam. The fact remains that Vlambeer is so eager to sell through Twitch that they're willing to give up 10% of each sale. Why?

But Twitch's plans for gaming world domination may go even farther. They are also investing in game development, in at least one case. Maybe. OK let me see if I can clear this up.

There's a game dev project on Kickstarter called Choice Chamber. It's a game designed around playing while streaming on Twitch; one player plays (and streams) and his audience can influence the game via Twitch's chat feature. This is not the first time this sort of thing has been done, but it's still an interesting concept. But Choice Chamber's Kickstarter was not looking good. With 4 days to go they still needed something like $15,000 in pledges to reach their $30,000 goal.

According to several gaming blogs, Twitch is standing by ready to help them make it to the goal line. Joystiq posted what seemed to be a press release saying "Twitch has offered to match the remaining amount at the time of this announcement to help turn the concept into a reality." Over on Polygon the story was a little different, with them saying Twitch would "donate half of the remaining amount needed to reach their goal." at noon ET yesterday. According to what the public can see on Kickstarter, neither of these things has happened.

Assuming Twitch is still on-board with this idea they're probably waiting until closer to the end of the campaign to jump in. All the blog posts discussing Twitch's involvement have shined a light on the project and the last time I checked they'd hit $21,000 with 3 days to go. [Edit: As of 10:30 ET on 4/17/14 they've hit their goal. Congrats!] So they may not need help, but if they do it'll be Twitch's first foray into bankrolling a game, as far as I'm aware. Whether or not Twitch does more funding will probably depend on how much traffic Choice Chamber drives to the service.

It's interesting to see Twitch testing waters beyond just being a gameplay streaming network. I can't help but think Twitch as it exists now is something of a fad and having options will be good for the company in the long run. But again...I'm old and out of touch.

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.

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