This year, you may have noticed that YouTube has their own E3 coverage on a dedicated channel, peppered with their own content and presenters and their own dedicated site made specifically for the event. There’s even a competition going on where you can vote for your favourite E3 trailers and there’s a mini-game involved as well. More than ever, it seems, YouTube has realised just how powerful and centric gaming is to their brand and they’re going to create a portal just for that – YouTube Gaming, where 60fps footage rules the roost and their firmly sights set on burying rival platform Twitch.tv six feet under.
Announcing the new platform on their blog, Product Manager for YouTube Alan Joyce revealed that the project was being overseen by gamers for gamers, which is largely how Twitch motivated their start as well. It’ll only be available in two regions at launch – the United States and United Kingdom – but will spread to other regions as the team works on localising the service.
At launch the service will host categories for over 25,000 individual games, with channels also available for developers, game publishers and content creators on the service. Lets Plays, live streams and more will all appear on it, and almost certainly there will be YouTube’s ContentID system to muddle things spectacularly.
Joyce also went into some detail about the changes that YouTube is making to their new Gaming portal, which includes updates to their back-end software to streamline things specifically for gamers. Search is apparently one of those optimisations and under the new portal, searching for game titles will take to you to the category for that game, rather than a list of videos that may or may not be what you’re looking for (an issue evidenced by trying to search for Fallout 4 gameplay after the Bethesda reveal earlier this morning).
“Keeping up with these games and channels is now super easy, too. Add a game to your collection for quick access whenever you want to check up on the latest videos. Subscribe to a channel, and you’ll get a notification as soon as they start a live stream. Uncover new favorites with recommendations based on the games and channels you love. And when you want something specific, you can search with confidence, knowing that typing “call” will show you “Call of Duty” and not “Call Me Maybe.”
Live streams bring the gaming community closer together, so we’ve put them front-and-center on the YouTube Gaming homepage. And in the coming weeks, we’ll launch an improved live experience that makes it simpler to broadcast your gameplay to YouTube. On top of existing features like high frame rate streaming at 60fps, DVR, and automatically converting your stream into a YouTube video, we’re redesigning our 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.”
It all sounds pretty interesting and I’m eager to see how this pans out for Twitch, as they have been hitting the E3 coverage just as hard, trying to keep and expand that mindshare they’ve built up over the years. It’ll take some doing for YouTube to be considered as Twitch’s equal and it’ll be even more work for YouTube to keep people on their platform exclusively. More and more streamers are moving to platforms that allow them more control over the access to their channel and content, as well as how they monetise said content.
Platforms like Vessel are gaining ground because of this and crowd funding also comes into the mix thanks to YouTubers accepting donations through Patreon or Bitcoin. It would be nice if YouTube extends their ad-free music subscription to cover videos hosted on YouTube Gaming, which would avoid having you seeing those annoying Old Spice ads at the beginning of every video.
YouTube Gaming will launch sometime during Summer 2015, which in the Northern Hemisphere starts on 21 June and ends in late September. It could be coming as early as next week and it looks like it could be a separate app for mobile phones and tablets, with its own distinct user interface for navigating and using the portal.