Amazon has rebranded its Twitch Gaming membership benefits program as Prime Gaming. The move is part of an attempt to broaden the appeal of the benefits to players who don’t have Twitch livestreaming accounts or don’t consider themselves to be enthusiast gamers.
One of the little-known secrets about Twitch Gaming is that you are a member already if you have an Amazon Prime subscription, which entitles you to benefits such as free shipping, discounts on a lot of products, and so on. That stays the same with Prime Gaming. One of the big changes is that you no longer need a Twitch account ID in order to get the benefits, Prime Gaming general manager Larry Plotnick said in an interview with GamesBeat.
Amazon doesn’t break out exactly how many active Prime Gaming members it has (in terms of people who use the benefits), but Amazon has over 150 million Prime members worldwide, and each one of those members can have this gaming membership. Amazon is adding Roblox to the mix of companies participating in Prime Gaming.
“A big part of the thinking behind the rebrand is to make it clear for Amazon Prime customers that all these Prime Gaming benefits are free with their Prime membership. There was always confusion,” Plotnick said. “One challenge with the Twitch Prime name is if I need to be a Twitch user to get the benefits. As an Amazon customer or an Amazon Prime customer, it’s a one-click claim now that doesn’t require excess steps in a customer experience.”
Lots of games and free stuff for gamers
Prime members can claim new in-game content for Grand Theft Auto Online, Red Dead Online, Apex Legends, FIFA 20, League of Legends, and more than 20 other popular PC, console, and mobile games.
“Our goal is to create value for players and to create value for game developers,” Plotnick said. “That’s always been a goal of Twitch Prime since it started. We’ve expanded that audience. I think the biggest part of the rebrand is not about a change in name, but a recognition that our audience that we reach is much broader than the Twitch audience. The Twitch audience is wonderful. It’s a fantastic brand. But we have expanded into mobile and casual games and family games. We’re launching with Roblox, as a great example.”
Prime members can also claim a collection of PC games for free every month that are theirs to keep. This month, Prime Gaming has more than 20 free games, such as SNK arcade classics SNK 40th Anniversary Collection, Metal Slug 2, and indie retro brawler Treachery in Beatdown City.
Amazon first launched gaming benefits in 2016 as Twitch Prime. That’s a long time for Amazon to invest in that name. I asked Plotnick why the new name doesn’t have the word “Amazon” in it, or the word “Twitch” for that matter.
“If you think of Prime Video and Prime Reading, Prime Gaming is just is a natural fit,” he said. “The message we really want to get across to Prime customers is that Prime offers benefits across all digital entertainment, whether it’s movies or music or reading or now games — that we have this complete view of the entertainment space.”
I would guess that a lot of people never even knew that Amazon Prime entitled them to Twitch Gaming benefits, and now Prime Gaming benefits. The fact that they removed the Twitch login ID as a requirement suggests that it will be a lot easier now for players to claim their benefits. And that has to be important to both Amazon and to game developers — that these benefits actually get used.
How game developers benefit from subscriptions
As for the benefits of Prime Games to developers, Plotnick said that it’s a great thing for smaller indie studios to get their games in front of millions of customers. (I’m curious about this topic because I am moderating a webinar with Xsolla on at 10 a.m. Thursday, August 13, about gaming subscriptions and long-term customer engagement.)
“The smaller studios are the backbone of this industry, and they always have been making the next Minecraft or the next Fortnite. One of our biggest differentiators, from a player acquisition and engagement perspective is that games are fighting to get notice and acquire customers,” Plotnick said. “There’s only so many great ways to do that. We can use the assets they create for their games and provide them free and make them available to our marketing to hundreds of millions of customers across Amazon and 150-plus million Prime members and bring players either into the game for the first time or re-engage them if they’ve left the game. And then from a player perspective, they get something that others don’t have in the game. That’s important, as games have become so social.”
Plotnick said that engagement that comes from subscriptions such as Prime Gaming can come back to produce “downstream monetization” for developers that they wouldn’t otherwise get.
“That’s a critical part for them,” he said. “As a developer, I’m giving my game away for free. I either get revenue from that or marketing for the intellectual property. That marketing can help me acquire customers that drive value later.”
As a theoretical example, if Take-Two Interactive discounted or gave away a game like the original Mafia on Prime Gaming, that could help drive demand later on when it tries to sell gamers on Mafia 4 (which is rumored to be in the works).