In its early days, Bitcoin was considered as an in-game currency. Even though Bitcoin turned out to be much more than that, the in-game virtual currencies represent a huge market in their own right. The fact is now reiterated by Amazon with the launch of Stream+, a virtual currency for Twitch game streaming platform.
The upcoming Stream+ virtual currency was announced at the recently held TwitchCon annual convention. According to Amazon Game Studios, the Stream+ virtual currency will debut along with the new multiplayer game title “Breakaway”. Once the virtual currency is launched, users will be able to earn Stream+ by watching video streams on Twitch. At the same time, they will also be able to wager their virtual currency on gameplay.
The announcement offers an insight into the platform’s foray into the gambling market by creating a virtual economy. While it is not clear whether Steam+ can be traded on Twitch or some other virtual currency platform, the company’s strategy seems to be focused on increasing viewer retention by incentivizing them.
Virtual currencies in online gaming is not a new thing. Simulation games like Second Life have a robust virtual economy fueled by Linden Dollar, an in-game currency. The Linden Dollar can be exchanged for real currency on Second Life exchange and other select places on the internet. However, there are some apprehensions about the model due to certain legal issues faced by Valve due to the presence of third party gambling platforms on Steam.
However, the in-game virtual currencies including Stream+ will be closely watched by the UK Gambling Commission to ensure that they are not misused for gambling in violation of existing regulations. The commission has publicly voiced its concerns about the rising usage of digital currencies for gambling on gaming platforms.
Cryptocurrencies are increasingly being used by the gaming community. Recently Steam started accepting Bitcoin payments for games and downloadable content on the platform. However, it is yet to be seen whether Stream+ will be a blockchain based virtual currency or not.
Ref: Arstechnica | Image: TwitchCon