If you’re familiar with Youtube at all, you might have noticed that many of the famous Youtubers producing daily content do so with video games. There are heaps upon heaps of people doing Let’s Plays, game analysis and reviews and a lot of personalities use Youtube to air their views on the gaming industry and some people, like TotalBiscuit or FrankieonPC, simply play new games for the fun of it to give the developers of indie titles more media exposure. By contrast, Twitch was a competitor to Youtube insofar as it provided an arguably better place on the internet for Let’s Plays and video streaming of gameplay. It was independently owned and run, it did not bow down to pressure from publishers only looking out for their reputations and it is one of the better places that people turn to for live coverage of gaming events such as The International.
Well, Twitch fans and content producers had better read this piece today because it directly affects you. Google and by extension Youtube now owns their largest video streaming competitor. Twitch is no longer independent.
The news was first reported by Venturebeat, which cited anonymous sources that confirmed the deal was done with a valuation of Twitch set at US 1 billion. Although that’s certainly an indication that Twitch was doing perfectly well on its own it’s a rather startling move that proves that nothing on the internet stays the same. Youtube is no longer competing with anyone else and publishers eager to sink their teeth into Twitch are probably gathering outside Google’s gates as you read this.
“We don’t know everything about this deal, such as when it will be announced and the exact purchase price,” writes Venturebeat’s Dean Takahashi in a post announcing the buyout. “We do know that Twitch investors who participated in past rounds are pleased that they will be getting significant returns that are multiple times the amount they originally invested. The deal underscores the value of live Internet streaming and the rise of competitive gaming as a spectator sport.”
It’s ironic that Google’s Youtube division was the one doing the buying when it came to the reportedly finalised deal. Youtube was bought out by Google in 2006 for US $1.65 billion, cementing the platform’s popularity on the internet and giving the search giant more legs and more coverage across the internet. Today Youtube is one of the world’s most visited websites and both Google and the content creators on the platform are raking in millions, if not billions of Dollars in profits every year.
Sadly for Twitch, though, it’s no longer immune to the scourge of publishers and game developers who care more about their reputation online than the products they’re pushing out. I’m patiently waiting for the announcement of Google+ account integration into the service along with new terms for Twitch streamers that cut them out of profits and allow for Youtube to inject more advertising into the live streams.