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Why Amazon Is Paying $1 Billion to Help People Watch Video Games

Twitch Chief Executive Officer Emmett Shear
Twitch Chief Executive Officer Emmett ShearPhotograph by Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

For months Twitch, the video-game streaming service, was supposedly putting the finishing touches on a deal with Google. Now Twitch’s suitor has switched, and a deal has been reached with Amazon. The $970 million cash deal is the biggest acquisition in Amazon’s history. In a statement, Twitch’s chief executive said the company would continue to operate independently.

There are a few reasons Amazon would want Twitch, some of them Amazon-specific, others more general. First, a primer on Twitch. It’s a website on which people watch other people play video games. Some of the people playing are experts; others aren’t even all that good. To understand why Amazon would pay for a website such as this, you have to accept one fact: People like watching other people play video games. This consistently baffles many non-gamers, but it’s true.