Amazon, already the king (or queen?) of the e-commerce jungle, seems poised to pounce on the gaming industry thanks to its recent purchase of popular streaming service Twitch. But where does that leave the beloved gaming site and its fans?
Just barely three years old, and arguably the only streaming site that can stand up to YouTube, Twitch seemed like it was ready to take on the world. So the big question remains: is it a good choice to join up with Amazon?
The short answer? Yes.
It's always scary when the Goliath buy up growing indie companies, but in the long run, it means the underdog gets a fighting chance in a cutthroat industry overflowing with indistinguishable startups.
Honestly, it's more a matter of time of who buys up who - whether it's Amazon, or Google or company XYZ, you'll eventually see all your indie darlings being gobbled up, one by one. Otherwise they're pretty much stuck in limbo, struggling to maintain a presence.
It'd be a much more beautiful world if we could make a living off accolades, but in reality, we have to suck it up and suit up.
Change is hard. Deal with it
There's always a sense of betrayal when the smaller company accepts a fat wad of cash. It's selling out. It means change. And change means bad. But only at first.
With Amazon's seemingly endless financial treasure trove, Twitch can give us more services - and there's nothing wrong with more.
Twitch CEO Emmett Shear noted in the PR release that both companies are firm believers in gaming, so it's not like the core foundation will disappear. Rather, the acceptance of millions of dollars means more gaming related services in the future: "Being part of Amazon will let us do even more for our community. We will be able to create tools and services faster than we could have independently."
We'll have to take that promise with a grain of salt because it's so early in the game. But know that change is coming, and it's for the better. Again, it's unclear exactly what changes we'll be seeing from the freshly bought company, but it's possible we might only see drastic changes on Amazon's site (more on this in a bit) and improvement on the Twitch front.
Whatever happens, there are bound to be hiccups at first that will probably make you see red - but it's a learning process; if we're to believe both companies' desire to put "community and customers" first, as mentioned in the Twitch town hall, then we have to give it a chance.
Not selling out
Realistically speaking, this purchase looks more like Amazon trying to up the ante on its own services than attempting to cannibalize Twitch.
$970 million (about £585m, 1,043m) is all fine and dandy for the streaming site, but Amazon is the one that needs a boost when it comes to video gaming and video streaming - both traditional and non-traditional with the latter.
The giant has a decent selection of movies, but of course Netflix (and even Hulu) wins that race. With Twitch attached to Amazon, it now has an edge in offering another video service on its site - one that is well-received and continuing to grow.
Then you have YouTube, the top dog of internet videos. The acquisition allows a needed separation of the two most popular producers of video content, otherwise we'd have a monopoly on our hands with Google wearing the crown, and I don't think anyone wants that.
Take a deep breath
I know I must sound like a corporate shill, but I'm rooting for the little dude. And if he's going to partner up with someone with a seedy reputation, at least it's the lesser of two evils right?
After all, it's a solid fact that the suits have the money and money makes things happen.
It doesn't mean the quid pro quo between Amazon and Twitch isn't cringe-worthy. Think about the sinking feeling when Facebook bought Oculus. So far nothing too awful has happened; Oculus Rift didn't morph into Farmville Rift - and if virtual reality social media happens, it's not like you'll be forced to "plug in" and use it. I wasn't happy with that purchase, but the visibility it gives VR means sacrifices must be made.
It's similar with Twitch; we want more and we want a great experience to stay amazing. We want Twitch to stay an independent entity, to stick it to the man and survive, but that just isn't feasible.
In the end, we'll just have to wait and see what happens while remembering that it's better to have something than nothing at all.
- Not convinced? Well, Michelle Fitzsimmons isn't happy about the buy-out either.
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