Competitive gaming is fast becoming the new spectator sport of the 21st century, with online audiences in their millions tuning in to watch professional gamers go head to head.
The video game streaming site Twitch it has been announced, is to be purchased by Amazon for close to $1 billion. The deal will see Amazon acquiring all outstanding shares in the company.
The move sees Amazon gazumping Google, which backed out of the all-but-confirmed deal at the last minute.
Twitch’s user base of 50 million tune in every month to watch live streams of video games being played by gamers around the world. Being only three years old, this is already a staggering user base, which is set to grow as the phenomenon of broadcasting and watching gameplay continues to rise in popularity.
Speaking to The Guardian, Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos had this to say: "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.”
Amazon’s other investment in Amazon Game Studios, founded in 2012 to make games for the company’s Fire phones and tablets, is certainly set to pair well with Twitch, but it is in their brand new product, Amazon Sponsored Links, that has created the double-blow for Google.
Amazon Sponsored Links have been designed to eventually mount a serious challenge to Google’s established domination in keyword advertising – AdWords. The Wall Street Journal reports, however, that for now Amazon Sponsored Links will only extend so far as replacing Google’s AdWords on the Amazon website.
Users are generally happy at the announcement, particularly, it seems, at the fact that Google lost out, with one tweeter commenting on Twitter: "I can sleep better knowing Amazon bought Twitch. This will open doors to a worthy YouTube alternative.”