Amazon's next game is a four-on-four multiplayer battler called Breakaway, the company announced tonight, and will be the first game in the world to use a new currency developed by popular streaming site Twitch. Both the game and the currency — called Stream+ — were revealed at Twitchcon in San Diego. Amazon Game Studios promised that Stream+ would integrate directly with Breakaway, while a video clip indicated that players would be able to earn the currency by watching matches online, and use those coins to bet on the outcome.
Created by Amazon Game Studios Orange County — previously known as Double Helix Games — Breakaway seems to combine the basics of Dota 2 and League of Legends with elements of tower defense games and cult hit Rocket League. Players can build catapults and other structures on their side of the map, before the two teams meet in the middle to brawl, hurl magic at each other, and try to drive a ball-like relic to an enemy's base for points. Heroes appear to draw on real-world mythology, including Vlad the Impaler, Spartacus, and Arthurian enchantress Morgan Le Fay, and fit into the kind of archetypes we see in so-called MOBAs, offering support, DPS, and tank roles.
Breakaway looks like a cross between tower defense games, 'Rocket League' and 'League of Legends'
Twitch was bought by Amazon in 2014 for just shy of $1 billion, helping explain why Breakaway will be the first game to use Stream+, rather than established Twitch-friendly titles like League of Legends. As for Stream+ itself, Amazon Game Studios has confirmed that people will be able to earn the currency by watching specific channels, and by interacting with broadcasters, and once earned, it can be wagered on Breakaway bouts, and can be redeemed for in-game items. An Amazon Game Studios spokesperson also specified to The Verge that Stream+ cannot be bought or exchanged for real-world cash, nor for anything that could otherwise be bought with real game money.
Other games have used Twitch betting before
Breakaway won't be the first game to incorporate betting into its Twitch presence. In the run-up to the release of 2D robot shooter Cobalt, published by Minecraft makers Mojang, players could bet fake money on the result of matches between AI-controlled characters, and Twitch is also the home of Salty Bet, a channel that lets viewers wager "Salty Bucks" on the outcome of bizarre beat 'em up bouts. People used to be able to exchange real-world money for a source of guaranteed Salty Bucks, but crucially, in both of these examples, the currencies on offer had no way for betters to turn them back into actual money.
Other games have skirted closer to strict US online casino rules. Valve was forced to clamp down on the betting scene that sprung up around its Counter-Strike: Global Offensive earlier this year, after it was revealed some of its major figures were secretly involved in their operation. By separating Stream+ from any kind of real-world exchange rate, however, Amazon and Twitch should avoid this problem. The developer says that players should also expect this kind of Twitch integration in two other titles being "built for Twitch broadcasters" coming in the future: sandbox adventure New World (below), and deceptive DotA-like Crucible. No release dates have been given for any of the three new games yet.
Update October 1st, 11:50AM ET: Updated story with clarification from Amazon Game Studios on how Stream+ is earned and spent.