Today, Twitch announced that it is enabling the sale of games and add-on content directly on the livestreaming platform this spring by using a “Buy Now” button, which appears during broadcast for a related game. The purchasing system, which was first introduced with the game Streamline in November, has been greatly expanded to include both indie developers and AAA game publishers, including Ubisoft, Telltale Games, Digital Extremes, Hi-Rez Studios, tinyBuild, Paradox Interactive, Trion Worlds, Vlambeer, and more.
“For years we have appreciated how supportive Twitch streamers and viewers have been of our games,” said Chris Early, VP of digital publishing at Ubisoft, in a press release. “This made it an easy decision to work with Twitch to better serve our passionate community with benefits for everyone.”
Not only can viewers buy games while watching a livestream—an ideal point of engagement—but streamers can earn money from purchases. As stated in the press release: “Developers will earn 70 percent of the revenue and partnered Twitch streamers will earn five percent for sales originating from their channel pages.” As additional incentive, Twitch is rewarding buyers by offering them a free Twitch Crate, which contain randomized item drops that enhance the viewing experience, such as exclusive emotes, chat badges and Bits for Cheering.
“We are allowing the sale of games and in-game content on Twitch for two reasons,” Robin Fontaine, product marketing manager of e-commerce for Twitch told [a]listdaily, “to help support our partnered streamers who will receive a revenue share from sales on their channel pages, and to help game creators be more successful on our platform.”
In explaining the purchasing process, and whether it competes with digital storefronts such as Steam, Origin and Uplay, Fontaine said that “the purchase experience happens on Twitch right on the channel page. Content is purchased from Twitch, not a third-party store. When a game or piece of content is redeemed through an existing service like Uplay it is done by linking the buyer’s Twitch account to his/her Uplay account.”
Furthermore, viewers that already own the games can still purchase digital content through Twitch. “If the developer has an ID system that integrates with Twitch, users can buy items on Twitch to enjoy in their existing game installation, wherever that might be,” said Fontaine. “We fulfill to any developer ID system and are agnostic beyond that.”
Fontaine explained that the system won’t yet support pre-release purchases during beta event livestreams, but the Buy Now button will automatically appear for streams of related games. “An offer to buy a game or in-game content will appear automatically on all streamer channel pages when a game is being played that is offered for sale by Twitch,” she said. “Only partnered streamers will be eligible to earn revenue through this program.”
We asked Fontaine if it was difficult to convince publishers and developers to get on board with the program. “Publishers already know how important it is to invest in communities on Twitch and completely understand the value of rewarding streamers who help gamers find their content,” she said. “And since the revenue share to streamers does not come out of the publisher’s revenue, it was a no brainer.”
As for free-to-play games, Fontaine said that “if a free-to-play game has been integrated with Twitch Games Commerce, in-game items can be purchased through Twitch. Gamers will link their Twitch account to their game identity accounts and items purchased on Twitch will show up automatically in the game.”