In the announcement on its Google support page, YouTube said that sending visitors to the main platform would make it easier for gaming fans to connect. "We want to continue to build a stronger home for the gaming community that thrives on YouTube, not just the YouTube Gaming app," the company said.
As for any content YouTube Gaming visitors may have saved or viewed over the years, they're out of luck. YouTube says it's not possible to transfer games already saved on YouTube Gaming and suggests that subscribers combine their YouTube Gaming and normal YouTube subscriptions.
YouTube Gaming user Luke of kwingsletsplays, which features gaming walkthroughs, has partnered with YouTube since 2009. He says his channel benefited from the standalone site and worries that these changes will lead to gamers getting lost in the shuffle. "The new hub [doesn't have] a wide variety of games and genres, instead, it focuses on trending videos on Fortnite or your personal watch history. It's not a place where gamers can search for what games they are interested in and the channels that cover them," wrote Luke in a direct message to Engadget.
YouTube Gaming arrived in 2015 in response to popular livestreaming platforms like Twitch. The dedicated site had a different look and feel from the rest of YouTube, catering mainly to PC and console fans. The site attempted to put the spotlight on new, rising personalities and often experimented with new features. YouTube's recommendation algorithms highlighted their videos across the site and lead to more viewers discovering their work.
However, Twitch continues to dominate the livestreaming market, according to data compiled by game analytics company Newzoo. The Amazon-owned platform saw nearly 64,000 users generating 1.9 million hours of live video content at the start of the year. During the same period, YouTube Gaming had 22,000 users who produced 460,000 hours of content.