It's hard to believe just how big the gaming industry has become in the past few years. While the growth has seemed to creep in many ways, talk of high-profile acquisitions within the medium has become a regular occurrence. Facebook's acquisition of Oculus may have ruled earlier this year, but now all eyes are on Twitch in an unexpected acquisition.
For many, it seemed like common sense for Google and YouTube to acquire the popular gameplay streaming service. As one of the forefront providers of online video content, implementation of Twitch would have opened YouTube up to another audience entirely. Seemingly out of nowhere though, it has been announced that Amazon has purchased Twitch for the hefty sum of $970 million.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this acquisition is the fact that Twitch will be remaining independent from Amazon. According to the thank you letter posted to Twitch by CEO Emmett Shear:
"We’re keeping most everything the same: our office, our employees, our brand, and most importantly our independence."
For the gamers hurt by the cracking-down on unauthorized audio that recently rocked the service, the fear of heavier restrictions following an acquisition was a very real worry. For this reason alone, the fact that Twitch will remain independent is an encouraging development. Further restrictions will no doubt come into play down the road, but one can only hope that the company is able to be more transparent should this occur.
While this all seems well and great for the two companies who seem to have a mutual interest in pushing the bounds of how users consume live video content, it begs the question of why Google was not the one to make the move. According to a report on Forbes, an agreement between the two companies could not be achieved with Google showing concern over the the trouble that could arise from antitrust issues. Due to this, it is reported that they were not able to decide on a breakup fee should things go awry.
Whether this move will be good for the streaming service in the long run or not remains to be seen, but it's hard to deny the enormity of this acquisition. While it may not reach the scale of the Facebook/Oculus acquisition, it's a sure sign that the rest of the world is taking notice of the gaming industry and its constant rise and sees potential in it.
While there's always the worry of larger corporate entities taking away the freedom of smaller services upon acquisition, the added support in helping Twitch continue to grow is still very much something to get excited over. From fish playing Pokemon to covering live events like E3, the reach of Twitch extends past that of conventional gameplay, so one can only imagine what directions this ever-growing service could go in as time progresses.
What are your thoughts on Amazon's acquisition of Twitch? What would you like to see come out of the service next?
Follow Ryan on Twitter @ThatRyanB.