I am sure most of you are aware that Amazon bought Twitch for almost $1 Billion three years ago, but I was always curious as to why. I was even more confounded when Amazon Prime members like myself could use Twitch ad free if they linked their two accounts. I love not seeing ads, but it didn’t seem like a move that would help Amazon’s bottom line, but then they launched their Banner Saga promotion, and finally this is all making sense.
In late February all Twitch Prime members could download The Banner Saga through a new app called the “Twitch Launcher”, and for every download the game got Amazon would give a dollar to Stoic, the game’s developer, for The Banner Saga 3. Then on top of that if you actually played the game through the Twitch Launcher the devs would get yet another dollar. Amazon did the same thing again in early March (AKA now) with The Banner Saga 2.
This may seem like Amazon is just being nice, and I am sure that Stoic is thrilled to have the extra development funding, but to me it looks like Amazon is gearing up to sell games through Twitch. It makes sense. The audience is already there watching the games, so why not have a little “buy now” button over the stream of the game that they are playing, and then the game loads on to the Twitch Launcher and boom you are playing it yourself.
Giving away a free game or two is a great way to get that app installed on a ton of PCs. That way the audience is all ready to go. Not to mention it will have all the hooks built-in, so streaming the game they just bought back out on to Twitch will be easy. It is a self advertising loop, and one where Amazon gets to keep all the profits and not share them with Steam. It is just amazing it has taken three years for this to take shape.
I for one am excited. Steam needs the competition. The Windows Store is starting to gets some major games, but gamers don’t trust Microsoft, especially after the Games for Windows fiasco, and GoG, while great, doesn’t get a lot of AAA titles because of their lack of DRM. That just leaves the publisher based game stores like Origin (EA) or UPlay (Ubisoft), but they are mostly just places for those publishers’ games, and gamers like being able to keep all their stuff together. Amazon is just the type place gamers would go, and with Twitch, Amazon has the brand recognition. Amazon and Steam can keep each other honest, and Microsoft and GoG can be there to fill in the niche gaps. Sounds good to me. What do you think?