Confirming earlier rumors, YouTube has officially announced YouTube Gaming: a new site and app that could be the first serious challenger to game streaming giant Twitch. Launching this summer in the United Kingdom and United States, YouTube Gaming will combine the live streaming that has made Twitch such an explosive success in the last year with the robust infrastructure that Google has already developed to make YouTube the definitive online video website.
The organizing conceit of YouTube Gaming is that over 25,000 games will have their own hub pages for fans to congregate, combining all of the videos and live streams for a particular game into one place so fans can easily connect and share. Publishers and content creators will also offer their own channels. By subscribing to the channels of games you like, you can receive notifications when new videos are posted or live streams are beginning. Based on your established favorites, the site will be able to make expert recommendations for other games and channels that might interest you, leveraging Google’s massive amounts of data.
YouTube has already started rolling out new live streaming capabilities, offering speeds up to 60 frames per second and features like automatically converting streams into YouTube videos. These streams will be front and center on the YouTube Gaming homepage. With the launch of YouTube Gaming, players will no longer need to schedule live events ahead of time, offering a single, fluid platform through which someone can decide on a whim to play a game, have all of their fans immediately informed that it’s going on, and have it instantly converted to a recorded video for posterity.
Twitch was the breakout success of live streaming video, which found particular traction within the gaming community as eSports also came into its own. After numerous tech giants were rumored to be angling to purchase it, Amazon stepped in and bought the site for nearly $1 billion. Twitch and YouTube Gaming competing is thus a proxy battle between tech giants Amazon and Google, which should give you a sense of how significant a space Silicon Valley luminaries think that game streaming is poised to become. Twitch averaged 100 million unique monthly viewers in 2014, and that number is only going up.
YouTube Gaming is launching at an unspecified time this summer, initially just in the U.S. and U.K. You can sign up to be notified when that happens here.