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Amazon Japan brings free game streaming to Prime members

Online giant wants to morph gamers into shoppers with latest customer perk

Twitch's game-livestreaming service boasts 15 million daily active users worldwide.

TOKYO -- Amazon Japan starts offering livestreaming of game sessions to members of its Prime subscription service Friday, expecting the growing popularity of video games as a spectator sport to drive more traffic to its online shopping website.

The Twitch Prime service will deliver content offered by Twitch, the world's largest game-livestreaming service, boasting 15 million daily active users.

American e-commerce behemoth acquired the operator of Twitch in 2014 for $970 million. It later added the service to the perks for members of the Amazon Prime paid subscription service in the U.S.

Viewing of gameplay has grown in tandem with the rising popularity of esports, or competitive video game playing. Twitch lets individuals livestream their play and communicate with viewers. Streamers can cultivate fan bases and gain sponsorships.

Twitch viewers watch for an average of 106 minutes per person per day. This stickiness and the frequency of visits make Twitch users a desirable customer base for Amazon Japan. The company is also considering introducing benefits for streamers who use the Amazon marketplace to purchase such equipment as video cameras and keyboards.

Amazon Prime subscribers can link their membership IDs with their Twitch IDs to watch the livestreams ad-free. Certain game content is offered at no charge, and when a viewer wants to pay for a sponsorship of a favorite streamer, Amazon will even shoulder the cost up to a limit. This is all done to attract more subscribers to Amazon Prime.

Amazon Japan began offering Amazon Prime in 2007. Fast, free shipping was the only benefit at first. Video- and music-streaming services were added later, as was Prime Photos for saving pictures to the cloud.

The Japanese video game market grew 60% in the five years to 2016 to some 1.38 trillion yen ($12.2 billion), according to Gzbrain, publisher of the Famitsu gaming weekly.

Amazon Japan expects demand for game-livestreaming services to expand as the video game market continues to grow.


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