Amazon announced on Monday that it bought Twitch, an online video streaming site where gamers share footage of themselves playing video games, for $US970 million.
Twitch might not be a household name, but it accounts for more than 40% of live-streaming traffic by volume in the U.S., according to online analytics site Qwilt.
A quirky social experiment from earlier this year called “Twitch Plays Pokemon” demonstrated just how massive the video platform’s audience truly is, and why it became such a tasty acquisition target for Amazon. (Before that, Google and Yahoo wanted to buy Twitch too.)
“Twitch Plays Pokemon” is exactly as it’s name implies — the internet came together and collectively beat Pokemon Red for Gameboy after 390 hours of game time. The experiment, which ran Feb. 20 through March 4, was so large it temporarily brought down Twitch’s servers, attracting nearly 1.1 million viewers. Those are staggering numbers for something as geeky as playing an old Nintendo game over the internet.
To play Twitch Plays Pokemon, viewers would input commands (up, right, down, left, a or b action buttons, etc.) into the chat box alongside the video stream. This tells the character what to do. At its peak, more than 100,000 users were inputting commands at the same time — ultimately resulting in utter chaos.
In the beginning, the game was run by a system called Anarchist, which processed every single command in order. This resulted in a ton of duplicate moves and allowed trolls to type in commands to purposely sabotage battles. In other instances, trolls would release their best Pokemon for no apparent reason, as shown below.
The hype has since died down, but the channel is still among the most popular on Twitch. About 64.3 million people have watched the channel since it was created, which is now streaming “Pokemon Stadium 2.”
If you’re already tired of watching hordes of gamers play Pokemon at the same time, Twitch has a new channel called “Fish Plays Pokemon.” Yes, that’s right — there’s an entire stream dedicated to a fish playing Pokemon. The fish dictates moves by swimming into different sections of the screen, as shown here. A little more than 4.5 million people have viewed the channel so far, and 695 people are currently watching it.
As you can see, it’s not that exciting:
While it may cater to a niche audience, Amazon certainly tapped into a booming market with its acquisition of Twitch.
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.
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