YouTube is set to acquire Twitch.tv for $1 billion, according to sources at Variety. At the moment, there are few details about the deal, but the acquisition would make sense. Since Twitch's launch, it has become the de facto livestreaming service for gamers. Gaming channels are also some of YouTube's most popular content, but their own attempts at provided a livestream service have left something to be desired in comparison to Twitch. Joining the services rather than attempting to compete is the obvious choice for YouTube. With this acquisition, Google will become an even more dominant force, owning the largest video sharing site on the internet in addition to the largest streaming service, combined with their marketshare in smartphones.
The news of the acquisition has raised some concerns about potential Google+ integration. There has been no word about that happening as of yet, but the gaming audience considers its integration with YouTube a nuisance at best. Maintaining a separation of real identities and online identities has long been a sticking point for gamers, as displayed by the Real ID incident back in 2010, when Blizzard intended for real names to be used on the Battle.net forums, a decision that the company reversed before it went live.
How this acquisition impacts Twitch, for better or for worse, will be interesting to watch. Many games released in recent years, Blizzard's Hearthstone among them, owe at least a portion of their popularity to Twitch streamers. With 45 million unique viewers per month as of January 2014, Twitch's impact on gaming is substantial.