We’ve come a long way, baby, from the early days of game streaming. Twitch, the now household-name game streaming platform, kicked us off back in June 2011 when the entire concept was a relatively infant one (considering its birth from Justin.tv, game streaming really has taken off in a big way).
The company’s now owned by Amazon, but it hasn’t exactly deviated much from its initial goal: allowing gamers the means to broadcast their online games cheaply, efficiently and without issue.
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Today, Google will unveil its response to Twitch dubbed YouTube Gaming. And although it has the YouTube moniker glinting in the light, it promises to be a much more organised affair when compared to the stock YouTube offering.
What is it?
With YouTube Gaming, the company wants to “create a one-stop shop for all gaming content,” at least that’s according to YouTube’s head of gaming Ryan Wyatt.
Speaking to the BBC, Wyatt described the game streaming space as a “fragmented experience” as prospective viewers jump from site to site to find what they want.
YouTube’s blog post on the service posted in June also highlighted its ventures well:
From “Asteroids” to “Zelda,” more than 25,000 games will each have their own page, a single place for all the best videos and live streams about that title. You’ll also find channels from a wide array of game publishers and YouTube creators.
With YouTube Gaming, Google hopes to construct a centralised destination for those wanting to stream their live content, and in effect, render Twitch redundant.
Why it makes sense
It’s the ubiquity of Google we’re talking about here, and when YouTube is also thrown in the mix, it’s a possible user pool in excess of 1-billion. Although this sounds brilliant, Wall Street Journal reported that the massive portal is still one of Google’s deadweights, bringing in over US$4-billion in terms of profits, but flatlining in terms of earnings.
Perhaps one way to remedy this is jumping head first into the game streaming market, where Twitch has been growing strength to strength especially after its US970-million buy out by Amazon.
Twitch has a much smaller audience — only 61-million monthly unique visitors according to Quantcast (less than double PewDiePie‘s total subscribers)– but its value was spotted back in 2014 already, when Google came fairly close to stealing the company away from Amazon.
While that deal fell through, Google’s clearly mustering its resources to offer a competitor that will use the YouTube name to good effect, while strengthening its ties in a sector in which it hasn’t always been that proficient.
The possible pitfalls
As we’ve come to expect with Google products in the past, success isn’t always guaranteed. To remember the Google Glass fiasco for a second would be fallacious, as its a hardware misdemeanor, but it’s possible to look at Google Plus, the social network that was supposed to clout Facebook.
That didn’t materialise.
For YouTube Gaming to work in practice, Google will need to get its ducks in a row and be clear on what YouTube Gaming is all about. It will need to give gamers a reason to use it, use its information garnering technologies to ease the platform’s use, allow users to plan their viewing schedules accordingly and intelligently and give gamers a voice that they otherwise wouldn’t have on the streaming-only platform that is Twitch.
Google can take what it knows from the Google Plus failure and nail the social side of game streaming. But can it, and will it, nail it?
What should we expect?
Lots of marketing fluff, of course.
But with that said, we should expect a fairly polished proposition. We first heard of YouTube Gaming back at E3 2015, so the company has had a good few months to iron out any bugs and streamline its effort.
We should probably brace for more technical details emerging, including 1080p at 60fps streaming which YouTube itself debuted back in May, a staple concoction for many PC gamers. DVR capabilities will also be unveiled, as well as a stream-to-YouTube video feature, which will allow streamers to upload their completed streams as a video. YouTube noted that it is redesigning the system” so that you no longer need to schedule a live event ahead of time.”
“We’re also creating single link you can share for all your streams,” YouTube remarks.
Nevertheless, whatever else YouTube is planning, the service will go live at 6pm UTC, which is 8pm SAST for those in South Africa, and 2pm ET for those on the American east coast. Initially, the service will only be available for those in the United Kingdom and the United States.
Follow YouTube Gaming’s developments
Although it is a Google-owned company, few institutions can get away without boasting a twitter handle. In this case, you can follow YouTube Gaming here: @YouTubeGaming.