Video game voyeurism: Is this Google's latest $1bn acquisition?

YouTube has reportedly snapped up video game live-streaming firm Twitch.

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 26 Aug 2015

While the die-hard stereotype of sunlight-starved nerds locked in their bedrooms may still hold true, gamers have been connecting online for years. Nonetheless, the growing trend of users broadcasting their gameplay live online, by connecting up their Xbox, Playstation or PC game, and millions of people tuning in to watch, sounds slightly bizarre to those of us not permanently connected to joysticks.

But in business a trend is a trend, and as Google continues on its mission of worldwide domination, its near-monopoly of online video through YouTube is marching onward. The search giant has reportedly sealed a deal to buy video game live-streaming company Twitch for $1bn (£589m), according to Venture Beat.

Twitch was founded in June 2011, off the back of another live-streaming site, and has since raised more than $35m from various venture capitalists. When it launched it had around 3.2 million monthly active users. It now has 50 million users tuning in every month and 1.1 million members uploading their live gameplay.

Around the world, people spent 2.4 billion hours watching so-called ‘e-sports’ (minus all physical activity save thumb twiddling) in 2013, up from 1.3 billion in 2012, according to researchers IHS technology. ‘While advertising in and around games has often proved to be a difficult proposition, advertising in online video is commonplace,’ IHS research director Piers Harding-Rolls said.

And advertising, of course, is Google’s bread and butter. The deal is apparently going through YouTube, which already has some game live streams. A glance at the site shows those aren’t particularly popular, though. Buying Twitch is a fairly simple way for YouTube to gobble up a market it’s not yet cracked.

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