Twitch And Blizzard Partner Up On Esports, Exclusive Content

It's hard to stand out in a crowd. But that's exactly what Twitch and Blizzard plan to do with their new partnership, which will make Twitch the exclusive third-party live-streaming platform for "more than 20" Blizzard tournaments between now and the end of 2018. The collaboration will also offer exclusive in-game items for Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, and other Blizzard titles to people with active Twitch Prime memberships.

The partnership could help Twitch and Blizzard attract more attention from their respective audiences. Twitch needs to stand out from competitors like YouTube Gaming and Mixer; being the only place to find popular games like StarCraft II and Hearthstone could help with that. Giving exclusive items to Twitch Prime members could also encourage more people to sign up for the service, which offers free loot, ad-free streaming, and one channel subscription every 30 days. (That could make Amazon Prime more appealing, too, because it gives you access to Twitch Prime.)

In return, Blizzard gets the backing of the world's largest game-streaming platform. Games like Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, and Hearthstone are perfect for tournaments where top players can strut their stuff. Blizzard seems to be aware of this--it recently introduced the Overwatch Contenders tournament to help ambitious players get noticed, and the Overwatch League and Overwatch World Cup are all devoted to current pros. The company's also making a push for Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone, and the StarCraft series has been popular in tournaments as well.

Other games have the lead on some of Blizzard's titles, however, which is why the Twitch partnership makes sense. Someone might tune in to an Overwatch tournament if they see it on Twitch's homepage, for example, even if they weren't previously interested in the title. It seems like a mutually beneficial arrangement--and the extra loot for Twitch Prime members gives you a few benefits for supporting both companies, too.

The first thing you'll get is a new Golden Loot Box for Overwatch that's guaranteed to contain one of its Legendary-tier items. (Overwatch doesn't let you directly purchase skins, voice lines, emotes, or other customization features; you have to open loot boxes that randomly dole out various items.) You'll also get 10 more free loot boxes--five in August, five in October--if your Twitch Prime membership remains active. Twitch said in its announcement that  similar promotions are planned for Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone in August and September, respectively.

You can learn more about the Overwatch promotion on Twitch's website. It's worth noting that none of this should affect your favorite streamer--if they want to live-stream Heroes of the Storm via YouTube Gaming and StarCraft II via Mixer, they can. (Barring any technical difficulties.) To drop the "e" from esports for a second: This is like the MLB giving exclusive streaming rights to Facebook Live. That doesn't mean you can't share your kid's baseball game via Periscope; it just means professional games will be restricted to that platform. It makes sense for the same to happen in esports.

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.