Five Questions With: Amazon’s Director Of Competitive Gaming

Paladins Strike

Recently Amazon announced the GameOn Tournament Organizer, a new Twitch extension for its still-fledgling GameOn competitive gaming platform. The idea is to give Twitch streamers the opportunity to easily create tournaments on the fly, which streamers and their viewers can then compete in.

It’s a natural integration for the new gaming platform, since Amazon also owns Twitch.

Tournament Organizer has five games enabled at launch–Darwin Project from Scavenger Studios, Paladins Strike from Hi-Rez Studios, Overload from Revival Productions, Tactical Monsters Rumble Arena from Camex Games, and SCP: Secret Laboratory from Hubert. The company said SCUM from Devolver Digital will on deck soon. To create a tournament, streamers just add the extension to their channel page and generate the tournament in the available games with a few clicks. Players don’t have to exchange data.

We caught up with Marja Koopmans, Amazon’s director of competitive gaming, to ask a few questions about the new service.

Marja Koopmans

Marja Koopmans, director of Amazon Competitive Gaming.Amazon

Heather Newman: How did this feature come about? Was it something streamers had requested, or viewers?

Marja Koopmans: At Amazon we start with our customers and work backwards. We’ve worked with game developers, creators, and players for some time, and discovered a demand from game developers for more tools to break through on Twitch and a demand from creators for an easier way to play with viewers and manage tournaments on Twitch. We saw an opportunity to bring these two needs together and worked very closely with Twitch, developers, and creators while designing the GameOn Tournament Organizer to ensure the technology would be a powerful tool for customers and generate excitement like all good competition should.

Newman: How involved do you think viewers want to be in Twitch celebrities’ gaming? How does watching streams differ from traditional viewing of movies and TV?

Koopmans: While you can’t walk onto a movie set, you can play a game, which makes gaming a unique form of entertainment. And we believe there’s a number of viewers who would like to become players, especially if it deepens their connection to their favorite creators. But if you aren’t already very talented, your options for joining competitions and building your skills are generally limited. Our goal with GameOn is to reverse this paradigm by giving developers an easy way to generate tournaments and level the playing field for everyone. The extension builds on this by empowering creators to extend competition to their viewers, giving more people a chance to play.

Newman: Publishers need to build in support for Twitch GameOn tournaments. Do you feel there’s any conflict between this and publishers who already have tournament/competition infrastructure? How does Amazon envision that working?

Koopmans: We want to give customers—in this case, both developers and creators—choice regarding competition. Our APIs are flexible, so they can be used in conjunction with other extensions and services to power Twitch-based tournaments. We built GameOn Tournament Organizer to deepen connections between game developers, creators, and players beyond what others may provide and to make it incredibly easy. With our extension, creators can seamlessly generate and manage tournaments directly from their Twitch channel with a click.

To enable GameOn Tournament Organizer: developers need to integrate with GameOn, our set of easy-to-deploy APIs, then enable their games for the Extension. Our goal is to make it as seamless as possible.

Here’s what Scavenger Studios said about enabling the extension: “After initial discussions to learn about the use cases of the extension, we needed about one week of work from our online architect, UI/UX designer, and game designer to integrate GameOn Tournament Organizer.”

Newman: Who’s on the GameOn platform as a whole?

Koopmans: Today, GameOn Tournament Organizer is used by Hi-Rez, Revival, Scavengers, Camex and Hubert. Devolver Digital will also support the extension in the coming weeks. We’re having some other interesting conversations, but I don’t have anything else to share at the moment.

Newman: How does this new feature play into GameOn and Twitch’s long-term strategy for marketplace positioning?

Koopmans: I can’t speak for Twitch, but I can speak to GameOn. Our overall goal is to make it easier and more fun for more people to get involved in gaming competitions. GameOn Tournament Organizer, which helps developers break through on Twitch by giving creators a way to play with their viewers, is another step toward this goal.