Twitch to start of­fer­ing a vir­tual cur­rency

Malta Independent - - TECHNOLOGY -

Video game stream­ing site Twitch is to in­tro­duce its own vir­tual “cur­rency”, says its owner Ama­zon Game Stu­dios.

“Stream+ is a loy­alty points sys­tem where play­ers can earn points by watch­ing streams,” said Pa­trick Gil­more of Ama­zon Game Stu­dios.

He said points could be used in “polls and wager­ing” and could be spent on items to use in games.

The stu­dio’s forth­com­ing mul­ti­player game Break­away will be the first ti­tle to use Stream+.

Break­away is Ama­zon’s an­swer to ri­val stu­dios Bliz­zard, Valve and Riot, which have all de­vel­oped sim­i­lar team-based bat­tle games.

“Over re­cent years Ama­zon has in­vested sig­nif­i­cantly into its first-party games de­vel­op­ment ca­pa­bil­ity but has yet to make a com­mer­cial im­pact on the mar­ket,” said Piers Hard­ing-Rolls of the IHS Markit con­sul­tancy.

“Ama­zon’s ac­qui­si­tion of Twitch back in 2014 laid the foun­da­tion for the de­vel­op­ment of its own games that were built from the ground up to en­gage Twitch view­ers.

“Break­away does look to be an in­ter­est­ing ad­di­tion to the com­pet­i­tive play arena with it mix­ing some sports el­e­ments with more tra­di­tional ac­tion el­e­ments. We’ve seen with Rocket League that it’s pos­si­ble to make a break out hit in the es­ports scene against the in­cum­bent ti­tles.”

Mr Gil­more said Stream+ points could be ac­crued by watch­ing other gamers’ video streams on the Twitch web­site.

A demon­stra­tion video showed a player bet­ting on the out­come of a Break­away tour­na­ment for the chance to win more points.

How­ever, Ama­zon and Twitch have not re­vealed ex­actly how the vir­tual cur­rency will work.

Video games and es­ports are un­der close scru­tiny from gam­bling reg­u­la­tors, af­ter unofficial and un­li­censed bet­ting web­sites were de­vel­oped around pop­u­lar ti­tles such as Fifa and Counter Strike: Global Of­fen­sive.

The UK’s Gam­bling Com­mis­sion has said it is “pay­ing close at­ten­tion to the growing pop­u­lar­ity of vir­tual or ‘in-game’ items, which can be traded, sold or used as vir­tual cur­ren­cies to gam­ble”.

The abil­ity for play­ers to buy vir­tual cur­rency us­ing real money, and the fa­cil­ity to turn vir­tual coins back into some­thing with “real world” value are thought to be an im­por­tant dis­tinc­tion.

On­line re­tail gi­ant Ama­zon bought Twitch in 2014, in a deal worth $970m.

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