Will it pay off?
Gaming is kind of a huge deal on YouTube — it’s second only to music in terms of subscribers. The most subscribed channel on all of YouTube is PewDiePie, and he has been since December 2013. Elsewhere in the top 20 is VanossGaming, Machinima, and SkyDoesMinecraft. Gaming on YouTube is big, but it’s taken until 2015 for Google to finally do something with that knowledge.
Today (August 26), Google is releasing YouTube Gaming. It’s aiming to be a competitor to Amazon’s Twitch.tv. By incorporating a specific games-focused front end that allows people to search for videos by what game is being played, as well as improved streaming and more connection to a person’s YouTube channel, Google is trying to become a hub for games video of all kinds. Plus there will be a specific YouTube Gaming app for iOS and Android too.
This is by no means the first time a competitor to Twitch has popped up. But unlike things like Hitbox.tv and Beam.pro, this is the first time a competitor actually has the resources to take on the behemoth that is Twitch. Neither Hitbox or Beam have the infrastructure in place that YouTube already does with its channels to draw in viewers.
I’m not entirely optimistic — a lot of the biggest people drawing traffic to Twitch, those with partnerships, have contracts with the site that ban them from going elsewhere. Why would they risk splintering their thousands-strong communities just to try out a new and unproven platform?
The new ability to organise videos by game is cool, but whether the new focus on streaming will kick off and post an actual risk to Twitch is anyone’s guess right now.