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Primed with a Twitch: Will Amazon ever be a serious gaming company?

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Primed with a Twitch: Will Amazon ever be a serious gaming company?

Despite weighing in at $30 million under the big 10 digits, the reaction to Amazon's acquisition of Twitch has been somewhat muted. 

So, this week, we decided to get our Mavens on the case. 

We asked them: What's your view on Amazon as a relevant gaming platform?

It's been running its own fully integrated ecosystem - hardware, currency, store, Game Circle, a game development studio - for years. Nevertheless, it still sees to be a niche player in terms of the wider mobile games industry.

So, does the Twitch deal mark a significant levelling up of Amazon's ambition, or is it just another tactical move to safeguard its existing US-centric market?

In short, will Amazon ever be a serious gaming company?


John Golden Senior Director of Marketing PlayPhone

The Twitch purchase gives Amazon access to a large, engaged gaming audience that views a ton of video, which plays well into their current Prime and Fire offerings. And Twitch is already monetizing well with subs and ads.

At this point, it feels like Amazon is more focused on acquiring viewable, exclusive content than creating the next Clash of Clans.

But with Amazon, you never say never. At some point in the future they might decide to allocate more dollars/resources to become a big player in the gaming space. And at that point, they'd be a step ahead with direct access to millions of core gamers.

Oscar Clark Chief Strategy Officer Fundamentally Games

Oscar Clark has been a pioneer in online, mobile, and console social games services since 1998. He is also author of the book, Games As A Service – How Free To Play Design Can Make Better Games.

Twitch has transformed the way we spectate online games gaining audiences which can dwarf major national television channels. A completely different time from the early games spectator events like Quakadeleka's final in the Ministry of Sound in 1998.

I agree with John that this seems to be more about Amazon's wider entertainment strategy than a specifically games-focused activity.

Amazon has been making lots of effort over the last 6-12 months to be more visible in the mobile games space and of course with the Fire HD. The teams I have met working specifically on Amazon devices also seem very capable.

Amazon's Fire TV strategy - broader than games?

However, again as John says it doesn't feel like a real attempt to take on the console or mobile powerhouses.

But then again do they need to? Perhaps all the need is enough quality games developers to make their games available on their platforms.

My personal feeling is still that cross-platform gaming or at least cross-platform retail has the potential to disrupt the current mobile/console markets; but it might take a multinational retail presence like Amazon to pull that off.

P.S. It also worth mentioning that Twitch has demonstrated the power of video of gameplay; something we obviously agree with at Everyplay.

Jon Jordan Contributing Editor Steel Media Ltd

Is anyone developing for or even using Fire TV or Fire Phone?

I have to say my Kindle Fire has been sitting in a drawer uncharged for about 18 months...

Johnny Coghlan CEO Ayopa Games

We are! Ayopa Games' Robots Love Ice Cream  is a title we've been working with Amazon on to support Fire TV.

Depending upon performance and level of promotion, we'll consider other titles as well.

John Ozimek Co-founder Big Games Machine

John is co-founder of PR and marketing company Big Ideas Machine. Also an all-round nice guy...

Good point Jon, plus the numbers seem to indicate that the Fire Phone released has only sold 35,000 units.

Amazon does indeed seem to have all the building blocks of a very strong unified ecosystem for games, both on the content and distribution side.

However, over the years, I've seen so many companies make very smart-sounding acquisitions for them to fail to take advantage of the (apparently) obvious synergies, that I'm wary of making any assumption that Amazon will do anything super-clever with Twitch.

Fire Phone - yet to catch fire with consumers

Even if all it does is offer Twitch as a service within Amazon Prime, then that's a unique content channel that may aid uptake of the service. Then, there is the potential for Twitch to drive advertising revenue - perhaps linked to the rumoured 'Amazon Sponsored Links' ad platform which will compete with Google Adwords.

Finally, there is the opportunity to use Twitch as a unifying content channel to link its thirdparty products on the Amazon store with its firstparty content, with Twitch as an incredible marketing channel for both.

On paper, it seems like a good (but expensive?) deal. But there is a lot that Amazon needs to do to both keep the Twitch community happy, and effectively link it to the other components of its games offering.

If it is part of a wider strategy, then I would expect it to try and grow Twitch beyond its largely US audience, and into Asia where watching competition gaming is far more mainstream.

Christopher Kassulke CEO / Owner HandyGames

We just released 1941 Frozen Front  on Fire TV and all our coming titles are coming over as well, so you will see a lot of new titles for your TV from HandyGames.

Stage Dive Legends  was released in a special version for the Fire Phone and we just updated all our titles to be working perfectly on the Fire Phone. Yes, HandyGames is a first mover again.

The question every developers needs to ask themselves: "Can you ignore Amazon?" Acquisitions like this shows that you cannot! For me it's an elephant in the room for the industry.

Gameloft's Asphalt 8  was the first mobile game to support Twitch

Will they establish themselves as a publisher? I doubt that! But they check out new technology and software with an internal studio. Perhaps Google, Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, and some others should do the same.

Thanks to Prime, Amazon is used heavily in our home. And if you don't have Prime yet, try it out. It's awesome for a family with a lot of electronic devices like iPads, Kindle Paperwhite, TVs and PCs.

But back to Twitch - on which other platform do you have 55 million monthly users with such a high engagement level? Compare the 100 minute of Twitch to a few minutes on YouTube, for example.

Thanks to its huge engagement level, Twitch a perfect platform for ads, so it was logical when Amazon sponsored links were announced.

And my question back to you is: Does Amazon want to be a serious gaming company?

Thomas Nielsen Osao Games

We're just about to launch our episodic adventure Chonology  on iOS, and are working to bring out the title on Fire TV next. For us, it's an obvious route; the game plays super-well with D-pads, and the remote that ships with Fire TV works perfectly in our case.

Amazon is probably the most innovative player on gaming enabled hardware and content right now.
Thomas Nielsen

That's exactly the kind of content the growing unconsole market needs.

I also don't think Amazon cares about becoming a "serious gaming company". I honestly don't think Apple had serious ambitions about that either, until iOS gaming revenue started growing significantly.

What Amazon is doing may not look like a very game-focused strategy, but my guess is that Amazon is perfectly happy with that, as long as it can significantly grow the amount of gaming content that is sold through their ecosystem.

Twitch is a service that has a huge amount of gaming-eyeballs on it, so to me, it fits.

I'd go as far as saying Amazon is probably the most innovative player on gaming enabled hardware and content right now, and one that can afford long term bets. I wouldn't be surprised at all if that pays off sooner or later.

John Ozimek Co-founder Big Games Machine

John is co-founder of PR and marketing company Big Ideas Machine. Also an all-round nice guy...

Thomas - I agree with much of what you say, but just wanted to point out that Apple started building a gaming team actually quite early after Steve Jobs returned to the company, when it made hires to explore gaming on the early jog-wheel iPods (second generation I think).

What I don't know for sure is whether that team morphed later into the App Store team, but it would make sense for that to have been the case.

What's the chance of us getting someone from Apple to tell us the details? ;-)

Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.