Splashing the Cash: Is The Gaming Industry in Rude Health?


So it seems that the gaming industry is in a pretty good place right now.

Earlier this year, Google were reportedly putting together a $1 billion offer for online game streaming service Twitch. Recently, that deal looked in jeopardy when the two parties struggled to resolve the potential antitrust issues that may have come up following the purchase. Eventually, the problems led to a breakdown in negotiations and so the owners of YouTube pulled out of the deal.

But never fear! Another Internet giant has thrown their hat in the mix – Amazon. Although the takeover, worth $970 million, is reportedly $30 million short of the amount they were looking to get from Google, the owners of Twitch can’t be too sad about the frankly insane amount of money they will be raking in from the deal.

But what are Amazon getting for this small fortune? A small country? One of the moons of Saturn, perhaps?

Not quite. They will, however, be getting one of the hottest web-based services around.

Here at Power Up Gaming, we regularly look at two of the major aspects of e-sports: the athletes and the events. This time we’re completing the triangle by looking at the broadcasters. After all, there wouldn’t be events or athletes without money and there wouldn’t be money without sponsors, advertisers and spectators.

It can be a vicious cycle, but fortunately for Twitch, they already have plenty of the latter, with over 55 million viewers per month watching any number of great gaming channels and competitions including the ESL, League of Legends tournaments and more.

So ultimately, Amazon are paying around $20 per user. Of course, if it encourages them all to buy a Kindle tablet to watch the live streams on, the retail powerhouse will make that back in a heartbeat!

Another tech-giant that has been flashing the cash recently is Microsoft, with their $2.5 billion (£1.5 billion) purchase of Mojang, the creators of world-wide sensation, Minecraft. In an age where AAA developers are always looking to squeeze just a few more details into each texture and inventing new methods for motion capture and physics calculations, Minecraft is an island of (mostly) calm, blocky textures amidst the sea of high resolution madness.

For those of you who haven’t heard of Minecraft, firstly welcome back from Mars. The game was originally made just for fun by Markus “Notch” Persson and his friends, but soon began to capture the hearts and minds of an ever-growing audience. It focuses on exploration, mining (oddly enough) and crafting (bet you didn’t see that coming) within both player-created and procedurally generated worlds of simple, low-resolution blocks. Players can “mine” wood, rock and other materials and then combine them to make weapons, armour, houses, doors, traps, windows, big signs, Pokmon, ferris wheels and just about anything else you can think of, including your very own Minecraft world. You can even farm animals, defeat shambling skeleton warriors and give yourself nightmares trying to figure out where the sound of that Enderman is coming from.

Mojang raked in over $100 million last year, but when asked about their success and his reasons for selling to Microsoft, Notch said: “I’ve become a symbol. I don’t want to be a symbol, responsible for something huge that I don’t understand, that I don’t want to work on, that keeps coming back to me. I’m not an entrepreneur. I’m not a CEO.”

It is a sentiment that was mirrored in the actions of Dong Nguyen, creator of the overnight hit Flappy Bird, who pulled the game from the various mobile app stores after just a few days claiming that its success “ruined [his] simple life”.

Overall, the games industry is definitely on the rise and although some of its pioneers are understandably struggling under the weight of the gaming community’s expectations, it seems as though it is going to continue its expansion into the mainstream for a long time to come. – DJ

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