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Swimming Upstream: Twitch Sells, Funds Indie Games

I've got those millions-of-random-Internet-kids-screaming-in-my-head-at-all-once blues

Twitch has its fair share of problems, but there’s no denying the utter ubiquity of the massive videogame streaming service. Heck, I use it for two separate shows here on RPS, and I’m sure plenty of you stream out your cursing-and-bad-joke-ridden exploits as well. It’s interesting, then, to see what Twitch has decided to do with the powder keg of potential influence sitting right beneath its purple buttocks. Its latest decision? A move into game sales and – in one special case – funding. You can now purchase Vlambeer’s madly addictive Nuclear Throne from Twitch. Meanwhile, the Twitch Plays Pokemon inspired Choice Chamber is having its Kickstarter funding matched dollar-for-dollar by the streaming goliath.

The Nuclear Throne partnership makes sense, given that Vlambeer’s been streaming the game’s development on Twitch almost since day one. If you buy from Twitch you’ll still end up with the Steam build, and Vlambeer will pocket 60 percent of the revenue. Apparently this was largely Vlambeer’s idea. A Twitch rep told RPS:

“In the case of Vlambeer, they decided to use Twitch Connect functionality in a very interesting and innovative way. They are automatically identifying subscribers and offering them access to the game as part of the Vlambeer Twitch channel subscriber benefits.”

Choice Chamber, meanwhile, looked to be circling the drain on Kickstarter despite a pretty neat concept and a Soundodger pedigree, but Twitch swooped in to save the day at the last possible second hours. That said, the streaming service is only matching funds acquired in the Kickstarter’s waning last days, so it’s not out of hot water yet. “I’ll still be pushing hard in the final 4 days, as their matching the remaining funds means I’ll still need to raise a few thousand on my own,” creator Michael Molinari told Gamasutra.

So those are interesting developments. If Twitch takes a vested interest in promoting/funding games, well, it’s certainly got the reach to do it. It already runs promotional partnerships with various events and publishers, so it probably wouldn’t be an earth-shattering structural change either.

But then, it’s tough to say at this point. Speculation is the name of the game for now, as Twitch would only tell me that it plans to evaluate future opportunities to support games on a “case-by-case basis.” So I suppose we’ll see.

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Nathan Grayson

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