YouTube Gaming Aims Sights At Twitch

Last year Amazon raised more than a few eyebrows in beating Google to purchase Twitch for a cool $1 billion. As the gaming community continues its phenomenal growth, we shouldn’t be too surprised at the recent announcement of the unimaginatively titled ‘YouTube Gaming.’

A post on YouTube’s blog yesterday revealed that YouTube Gaming is built to be all about your favorite games and gamers, with more videos than anywhere else. From “Asteroids” to “Zelda,” more than 25,000 games will each have their 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.

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.”

More details will be revealed at E3 next week in Los Angeles where the world’s press will be soaking up a plethora of announcements. We can be sure that there will be a wealth of information that will dominate our newsfeeds along with tales of million dollar game releases and virtual reality with Oculus Rift.  

There has been increasing speculation that deep in Google towers they have been busy hatching a dastardly plan to create a Twitch Killer for some time now. Most would agree this is a very sensible move that makes much more sense than their infamous 20 percent time that often resulted in the creation of additional hare-brained services that people won’t use.

For the uninitiated out there, Twitch is a live streaming video platform for gamers that went from 45 million viewers a month to 100 million in the last 12 months. Rather than watching a pre-recorded and heavily edited video on YouTube, viewing other people playing video games live has become an increasingly popular past-time.

Although it often feels that YouTube is full of cat videos, people falling over and Jimmy Kimmel clips, many don’t realise that half of YouTube’s top 100 channels are gaming related.  Whilst Twitch now commands 1.8% of peak US Internet traffic – that’s ahead of Hulu, Facebook, Valve, and Amazon.

Younger viewers are turning their back on traditional methods of entertainment and seldom watch TV while the top 100 YouTube gaming channels are achieving 6 billion views a month that should grab the attention of even the toughest cynic out there.

The wealth of content on YouTube can be quite overwhelming, so it’s only natural that niches will begin to leave the platform. The remarkable growth of the gaming industry and the rise of eSports is now getting impossible to ignore when 32 million people watch a League of Legends championship online which also sells out a stadium.

Step forward Felix ‘PewDiePie’ Kjelberg, who was revealed as the single most watched person on YouTube in 2014 with over 4.1 billion hits and a staggering 37 million subscribers. He is also believed to have earned around $4 million last year for his video game channel that further illustrates how playing video games has become big business.

If these gaming channels began migrating to Twitch, which is seen as a more authentic platform in the gaming community, it would hit Google where it hurts very quickly. With this in mind, it’s easy to understand their urgent need to launch YouTube Gaming.

However, YouTube has a significant image problem in the highly engaged and opinionated gaming community. It often feels that producers of content are guilty until proven innocent as a result of over stringent and often archaic copyright policies.

Our digital world is now all about sharing of information and yet many companies insist on the removal of content that features someone playing a game, trailer or even a song playing in the background of a Vloggers bedroom.

YouTube also has a history of working with game publishers to take down content that they deem to be violating their copyright. For example Nintendo thought it would be a great idea to claim a portion of the advertising revenue from anybody streaming any videos containing clips of their games online.

It’s quite ironic how businesses are handing over vast amounts of cash and working hours to increase engagement and knowledge of their product or desperately trying to manufacture a viral video. Yet other companies are still desperately attempting to lock everything down with their business models from the 1980’s.

The real beauty of this digital age is having the ability to communicate with people all over the world who are excited about the things you love, engaging with like-minded souls to share thoughts or participate in debates. This often gives birth to other great ideas and collaboration.

In many ways, it feels we are in a digital transition at the moment that will change our world in the same way that the industrial revolution led to new manufacturing processes.

In one corner, we have the old world desperately clinging onto locking everything down and controlling the stream of information. However, on the other we have the new world who embrace the sharing of content and engaging with people from the global community seamlessly.

Some businesses will try and manufacture these online communities, but ultimately it’s the genuine, authentic voice that will always win. For this reason alone, I advise everyone reading this to keep a close eye on the continual growth of Twitch that will rapidly become a thorn in the side of YouTube Gaming.

Are you a gamer that welcomes YouTube Gaming or will you be remaining loyal to Twitch? Are you surprised at the phenomenal growth of the gaming industry?

Let me know your thoughts by commenting below.

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