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Google puts Twitch on notice with launch of YouTube Gaming

Nicole Lee , @nicole
06.12.15
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For awhile, the rumor was that Google would buy Twitch. That didn't happen (Amazon did that instead), but that doesn't mean it's given up on gaming. Today at an event held in YouTube Space LA, the company is taking the wrapper off its very own video game-centric effort called, appropriately enough, YouTube Gaming. It's both an app and a website and is designed to put YouTube's gaming content front and center. More than 25,000 games will have their own dedicated page and each page will feature videos and live streams related to that particular title. And if you're really into, say, The Witcher 3, you can add that game into your "collection" to keep up on the latest videos.

Gallery: YouTube Gaming | 9 Photos

Aside from those dedicated title pages, you can also subscribe to channels from game publishers and indie YouTube creators. Once you've subscribed to a few channels and pages, YouTube will offer up recommendations based on the stuff you like. And, of course, searching within YouTube Gaming will bring up results that are specifically gaming-related ("Mine" will bring up Minecraft and not that Taylor Swift song, for example).

Just like Twitch, live streams will a big deal for YouTube Gaming. Indeed, YouTube made it so that it's often the first thing you'll see when you launch the app or website. You'll even get a notification whenever there's a live stream from a channel or page that you've subscribed to. If you're in the app itself, live streams from subscribed channels will be pinned to the top of the list.

An essential part of this equation is to make live streaming on YouTube appealing to gamers who want to broadcast their gameplay. YouTube says it offers features like high frame rate streaming at 60fps, a DVR function and it'll automatically convert that live stream to a YouTube video. It's also redesigning its Live broadcasting system so that you don't have to schedule an event ahead of time and you'll be able to share a link to all your streams. And good news for folks with poor bandwidth: YouTube is also now offering a low latency option for live broadcasters.

The comparison with Twitch is obvious here, but it's not like YouTube doesn't have its own dedicated gaming userbase. "Let's Play" YouTubers like PewDiePie are insanely popular in their own respective YouTube channels, some with millions of subscribers. YouTube's head of gaming Ryan Wyatt says that YouTube already has billions of hours of gaming content watched per month. But with YouTube Gaming, the online video giant is putting Twitch squarely in its crosshairs, with the hopes of drawing even more gameplay broadcasters to its side. Twitch certainly has the headstart here, but YouTube's sheer clout might make up for it. YouTube Gaming will be available later this summer in the US and the UK.

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