Amazon Buys Twitch: Pros and Cons


Emmett Smear, CEO of Twitch, confirmed earlier reports that Amazon has acquired Twitch. After months of rumors that Google was set to purchase Twitch for $1 billion, Amazon has swooped in and paid a similar amount of money for the company. We can never really know why Twitch chose Amazon over Google, but we can look at some of the major components of what this means for Twitch and its users with some pros and cons.

ProTwitch will remain independent as a company, but will be backed by Amazon’s resources. This is likely the biggest reason for choosing an offer from Amazon. Amazon is constantly looking to expand the offerings for the Kindle platforms and as such they have recently been buying more content creators and content libraries in the past year. They bought Double Helix Games to provide content for Fire TV, Comixology to provide content for Kindle e-readers, struck a deal with HBO content for Amazon Prime TV, and now they have Twitch to bolster their offerings even further with livestreaming and short run archived content. Twitch gets Amazon’s cloud support as well so this is a win-win for the two companies involved. The lack of a competing service in Amazon’s services should mean that Twitch will run as it always has with changes taking place mainly to improve Twitch and not to Kindle-fy it as was the fear with Google and YouTube.

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ProTwitch’s changes were for the sake of Twitch and not Google. In recent months, Twitch has made headline for many of its changings to its archiving system and began adding DMCA license searches that would stop licensed music from being able to be played for stretches of 30 minutes in archived video. Many of these changes were speculated to have been prompted by acquiescing to Google’s whims as they complied with the parameters of a deal in place. Now we can see that those moves were made by Twitch for Twitch and maybe not entirely for some other entity. One can argue about the merits of whether they improve or devolve the service, but it’s better to know that Twitch will remain making decisions for Twitch and not some other entity that didn’t get the company to where it is.

Con: This might not actually be all that great for non-Amazon platform users. In the mobile ecosystem, Comixology was most known for its ability to offer in-app purchases and this feature was available across multiple platforms. Since Amazon acquired Comixology, in-app purchases on iOS are no longer available and has crippled one of the main features of the service people enjoyed on iOS. You can purchase Kindle books and search through Kindle titles on Amazon devices, but if you want to do so on iOS or other mobile devices it is much more difficult or impossible to purchase a book on that device and download at that moment.

These are some of the legacy things that Amazon has done that have taken away features or not offered features to non-Amazon customers in the past. One could envision that Twitch could also be afflicted by this in some way such as creating features that are only available to Amazon device users or by limiting what one is able to do on the Twitch app on non-Amazon devices. For now this is a concern based on the past, but it seems relevant to point out that Amazon is rightfully entitled to make sure their customers get the best of their offerings from acquisitions and partnerships. This means it could come to pass that some non-Amazon device users may be left out of those offerings.

These are just some immediate thoughts on the deal. Generally, Twitch will be better with the additional cloud support of Amazon’s infrastructure and monetary resources to keep offering the streaming and short term archive service. Given they will keep their brand and independence, this will likely end up as a win-win for Amazon and Twitch, but it will remain to be seen how this affects consumers and content creators on Twitch. In addition, Amazon’s history of limiting features for non-Amazon devices could be a bit of a concern in the future.

Let us know what you think of this new business acquisition in the comments below.

The views expressed in this article explicitly belong to the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of, nor should be attributed to, GameSided as an organization.

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