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Amazon extends gaming reach with $970 million Twitch buyout

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Amazon buys Twitch, the game video streaming service, for a whopping $970 million - nabbing it from Google in the process

Amazon has officially purchased Twitch, the most popular game streaming service on the web, for a colossal $970 million – making it the company’s biggest ever expansion to date and expanding its reach further into gaming following the launch of the Fire TV micro console.

The buyout, which won’t actually take effect until later this year, was confirmed by Twitch CEO Emmett Shear in an open letter posted to the Twitch website. According to Shear, Twitch chose Amazon because “they believe in our community, they share our values and long-term vision, and they want to help us get there faster,” but insisted “our office, our employees, our brand, and most importantly our independence” would be staying the same.

The news came as something of a surprise, following months of rumours that Google wanted to buy the streaming service. Just last month it was rumoured the two companies had settled on a $1bn buyout, but that has now been disproved. According to Forbes, Google decided to walk away from the deal over anti-trust concerns that would likely be raised as a consequence of owning both Twitch and YouTube, which is already the largest video sharing website on the net.

Twitch is one of the most popular streaming sites on the web, with an average of 43 million viewers every month in 2013 and managing to account for almost 1.4% of all global internet traffic in March of this year. Launched in 2011 as a gaming-focused offshoot of webcam streaming site, Twitch has boomed thanks in part by Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PS4, which can stream live gameplay without the need for expensive capture equipment. Nvidia and AMD also support Twitch broadcasts on their latest PC graphics cards, meaning almost all players can stream their gameplay to thousands of viewers.

“Twitch has built a platform that brings together tens of millions of people who watch billions of minutes of games each month,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said of the buyout. “Like Twitch, we obsess over customers and like to think differently, and we look forward to learning from them and helping them move even faster to build new services for the gaming community.”

It’s unknown what Amazon will look to do with the company once the deal has been finalised, and how it will sit alongside the company’s Prime Instant Video streaming video service.

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