Amazon has filed an application for a patent which would, if granted and brought to fruition, would allow people to spectate video games with an attached storefront.
The full application, which you can read here and was first picked up by Autconomy, was filed at the end of June in 2015 and published earlier this month. It was only published earlier this month, however, and provides a rough idea of the UI would contain, as well as some of the features.
According to the abstract, the system might also “include user interface elements via which spectators can order, purchase or otherwise obtain demo or full versions of games”. There’s an interesting line as well about being able to “replay previously recorded game sessions”, but that could easily just be a reference to replays already available through in-game clients rather than any additional functionality.
Here’s a flowchart outlining how the storefront would interact over the top of a game, at least in theory:
Perhaps fortuitously, or by design, an interview with Amazon’s Garnett Lee appeared on GamesIndustry on the same day the patent application was published. In it, he spoke about why developers should be designing for spectators and streamers as much as they were players.
“So we don’t think it’s surprising at all that community, multiplayer, and cloud features are critical to tomorrow’s game engines and devices … tools and technology that don’t embrace the cloud and the existence of mass communities like Twitch are going to struggle,” Lee, who works on the team overseeing Amazon’s Lumberyard engine, said.
It wasn’t the only application filed for gaming clients. A second related to a spectating system “that exposes an application programming interface to game systems”, while another outlined how the “spectating system obtains game metadata from game systems” and would then feed that back by “[generating] broadcast content based at least in part on the game metadata”.
It can take years before anything ever eventuates from applications like these, if it ever appears at all. It does make a lot of sense for Amazon though: they bought Twitch in the middle of 2014, and followed that up with the acquisition of Curse last year. Amazon also sells digital game codes for PC, PS4 and Xbox One through its site, as well as physical copies.