As far as Amazon’s concerned, entertainment’s new frontier isn’t home streaming, delivery drone creation, or damn near colonizing the galaxy. It’s working with Twitch to develop a state-of-the-art digital game distribution service to rival even the best Steam has to offer. This surprise collab is among the many trade secrets leaked by 4chan on Monday. The planned software, codenamed Vapor (or Vapour), will allow users to download and play games directly from Twitch. It will also employ a comprehensive broadcast system authorizing easy access to other people’s live sessions and vice versa. Vapor also features a VR chat room dubbed Vapeworld, made using Unity.
Data-diver @Sinoc229 shared snapshots of the breach on Twitter for Internet sleuths to enjoy and peruse. Amazon’s response to Steam also boasts extensive Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) support and has cutesy emotes of Bob Ross and Hearthstone cards built-in. Check it out:
Amazon made headlines in 2014 when it acquired ownership of Twitch for $970 million, $30 million less than Google was willing to offer the live-streaming startup. At the time, Jeff Bezos’s intentions for purchasing a humble Let’s Play service when other ventures seemed infinitely more profitable were murky at best. Mike Frazzini, Vice-President of Amazon Games, spoke with Time and was rather coy with his responses. Twitch and Amazon reportedly share the same business culture and mission statement: to empower the consumer, improve accessibility, and build inventive new experiences that last. Amazon considers video games to be commerce’s new frontier, as in anything with a screen is oft used for gaming and streaming. Beyond reaching for the stars, tapping into such a lucrative industry is the real Holy Grail of information-based neocapitalism. The trade conglomerate presumably looked to Steam at this time, having bought Double Helix Games (Silent Hill: Homecoming, Killer Instinct) and released Fire TV, an improvised game system, the same year.
The seemingly random acquisitions left investors in a bind. What would a corporate giant like Amazon need Twitch for? What does Amazon have that Google couldn’t give Twitch? The mystery eventually peaked in 2017 when it was revealed Amazon filed a patent for an unnamed video game distribution and broadcast service in June 2015, barely a year after Twitch accepted the multinational e-tailer into the fold.
The records were as discreet as could be; United States patent 2017/0001111 A1, registered as “Joining Games From A Spectating System,” will permit users to purchase, order, and otherwise obtain both demos and full versions of games, including certain peripherals: avatars, characters, gear, and other game data. A spectating UI functions similar to Twitch, in that users will be able to launch live sessions and join other people’s streams whenever and wherever they wish. Unlike Amazon’s planned system, Steam currently doesn’t have a broadcast feature, which would put Vapor a step up from Valve’s popular software client.
But now the pieces finally condense. Amazon has been working on a brand-new streaming and gaming service with Twitch as the primary vehicle, in the hopes of competing with Valve and beating Steam at its own game. Steam is currently PC purists’ main purveyor of computer games; the app hosts regular sales and offers numerous titles with massive discounts in a bid to rally console players to its side. It’s an airtight business strategy; most console games, even at a bargain, cost three times as much as Steam games at cut-price. Which would you rather buy: a $3 Assassin’s Creed or one that’s priced at around 20 to 45 dollars?
The existence of Amazon Games proves many players still obtain their copies from Amazon’s digital retailers, and yet the pull of Steam’s discounted items is confirmed to be even stronger. Amazon’s response? Offer streaming and allow gaming’s most attractive service (Twitch) to head the collaborative effort. If consumers won’t come to Amazon for their games, they might hop in for the easy streaming opportunities.
As the name implies, Amazon’s Vapor is currently in the wind right now. Twitch has already publicly confirmed the veracity of the files found in the data breach, which means Vapor is real. Wouldn’t be surprised if Valve is quaking in its oversized boots right now. Vapor sounds like a real gem, capable of dominating the same market Steam has practically demolished since conception. Steam has recently announced its own separate console, so really, it’s neck-and-neck with Amazon and Twitch from this point on.