Amazon has shelled out nearly $1bn for videogames video streaming service Twitch, snatching it from the jaws of Google, which had been rumoured to be on the verge of snapping it up itself.
The purchase of Twitch, which allows users to stream footage of their gaming experiences from PCs or games consoles via specific client-side hardware and software set-ups, is another indication of Amazon's desire to keep pushing beyond its boundaries as just an online retailer.
Next to the likes of Goodreads, a social network for reading enthusiasts that Amazon acquired for an undisclosed sum last year, or voice recognition platform Evi, which it bought the same year for $26m, Amazon has put down serious money on a brand that sits right at the heart of the online zeitgeist.
Basically a service that lets people watch others playing games, numerous twists on the Twitch formula have contributed to a popularity level of 55 million unique viewers using Twitch in July 2014 alone.
The 16-day "Twitch Plays Pokemon" experiment, for example, attracted 1.16 million viewers in February and April this year, as chat room button inputs enabled viewers to control the actions inside a session of Nintendo's best-selling videogame.
More recently, viewers have flocked to Twitch to watch two fish in a sensor-equipped tank face each other down in fighting game Streetfighter 2.
Twitch, which has raised tens of millions in capital funding since its June 2011 launch, is already carrying links back to Amazon products through live feeds, and there is a belief these tie-ins will now expand, possibly to include Amazon's video, tablet and set-top box Fire TV services.
However, Amazon has not yet disclosed exactly what it intends to do with Twitch. Amazon Games vice president Michael Frazzini instead simply dropped a vague statement: "We have lots of ideas we've discussed, there's a lot of interest and a number of things we can pursue."
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