YouTube Opens Video Game Floodgates

It’s alive! YouTube Gaming, a hub that’s home to over 25,000 video game pages, on Wednesday began broadcasting live and on-demand streams, let’s play videos and the like. The gaming hub is accessible on desktop PCs, and on Android and iOS devices.

YouTube Gaming may be new, but YouTube isn’t new to gaming, and the hub is likely to offer a serious challenge to Twitch, the video game streaming service Amazon bought last year.

Player 2 Has Entered the Game

Twitch has shown the world that gamers enjoy watching video games so much that they don’t care who’s controlling the gamepad or manning the keyboard and mouse. The millions of monthly users viewing video game streams caught Google’s attention.

Google signaled an interest in buying Twitch itself, but Amazon ultimately submitted the winning bid — about US$970 million — after Google pulled back. Its hesitation reportedly was based at least in part on fear of regulatory scrutiny.

Google’s YouTube division then moved to create its own video game streaming product, and it already had a lot of material on hand. YouTube long has been home to on-demand content such as game reviews, walkthroughs and let’s play videos for virtual tourists who just want to watch their favorite personalities explore game worlds.

YouTube Gaming was built “by gamers for gamers” to address the needs unique to those who consume interactive games, said Ryan Wyatt, YouTube’s global head of gaming content.

“We are bringing all of YouTube’s amazing live and VOD gaming content into one tailored experience with 25,000 game pages,” he told TechNewsWorld. “With a sleek design, it is organized around the games that matter to gamers in a mobile optimized experience.”

Those 25,000 game pages, live now, have been populated with YouTube’s back catalog of gaming content and fattened with new broadcasts. Along with giving gaming its own house, YouTube has to retool its video game section.

Predictive search results are tuned to keywords related to gaming, broadcasting has been simplified, notifications alert subscribers when streams go live, and recommendations point to more gaming content.

“Every month, people watch billions of hours of gaming content on YouTube, and gaming watchtime grew 75 percent over last year,” noted Wyatt. “We succeed when our partners succeed, and we want creators to have access to resources that will help them develop their channels.”

Game On

Now that gamers have a “YouTube citadel,” YouTube could be a strong competitor for Twitch, noted Thomas Owadenko, CEO of Octoly.

“We expect YouTube’s share of livestreaming views to rise significantly,” he told TechNewsWorld. “This is especially true with games that have a significant percentage of e-sports videos, such as League of Legends and Call of Duty.”

Those expectations are based on the nature of YouTube’s product and the elements that distinguish it from Twitch, suggested Owadenko. YouTube has a much broader appeal than Twitch, which has cultivated a strong community of core gamers.

“Most of YouTube’s huge inventory revolves around blockbusters and sandbox games, including Minecraft, GTA Online and others,” he noted. “Of course, community has always been huge on YouTube as well.”

YouTube’s massive vault of gaming content sets it apart from Twitch, Owadenko pointed out. Twitch already serves up some on-demand content, generally of special events, but not nearly as much as YouTube.

The “archived content will never be downgraded or hidden, because it is a huge revenue source for all involved: YouTubers, YouTube the company, and brands who know that those views of creator channels lead directly to sales,” Owadenko said — “and the fans love those videos too, of course.”

Gaming was already a “massive vertical” for YouTube and a great opportunity as well, said YouTube’s Wyatt.

YouTube Gaming has a few layout issues that could be picked at, but the hub is brand spanking new, and Wyatt and company are just getting started.

“Gamers are one of the most vibrant and diverse communities on YouTube,” he said, “and we are very excited to introduce a product designed to meet their needs.”

Quinten Plummer is a longtime technology reporter and an avid PC gamer who explored local news for a few years, covering law enforcement and government beats, before returning to writing about things run by ones and zeros and the people who make them. If it pushes pixels or improves lives, he wants to learn all he can about it.

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