On August 26, Google released a new service for gamers under its YouTube brand. Called YouTube Gaming, the new service is designed to allow players to manage more efficiently their favourite games and gaming channels. Google’s new service expands on existing YouTube features to give users greater control over streaming, uploading and sharing of in-game footage that they record. Google hopes that YouTube Gaming will become the most popular game streaming site on the web. To achieve that, however, first it must take on rival Amazon and its streaming site Twitch.
Twitch was originally founded by Justin Kan, who sold the streaming site to Amazon last August for $970 million. At that time, Google also placed a bid on Twitch Interactive Inc – reportedly also offering around a billion dollars for the company. Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos explains in Amazon’s press release just why the two companies were so eager to acquire the website,
‘Broadcasting and watching gameplay is a global phenomenon and Twitch has built a platform that brings together tens of millions of people who watch billions of minutes of games each month – from The International, to breaking the world record for Mario, to gaming conferences like E3. And, amazingly, Twitch is only three years old,’
Incredibly, analytics revealed that in June of last year Twitch had ‘more than 55 million unique visitors [who] viewed more than 15 billion minutes of content on Twitch. Produced by more than 1 million broadcasters, including individual gamers, pro players, publishers, developers, media outlets, conventions and stadium-filling esports organizations.’
With Amazon at the helm of the popular streaming site for a year now, it is not going to be particularly easy for Google to overtake the young but well established streaming site. If anyone can compete with such a big rival, however, one would imagine it is Google. They have indeed designed the website to be strongly appealing to its audience.
These days gamers are accustomed to an immersive experience that constantly looks and feels fantastic, and YouTube Gaming has been designed to fit well into this particular niche. The site looks slick, and it instantly gives the feeling of being both cutting edge and personal. The front page concentrates on live feeds and pages for subscribed games. On arrival at the site, the user is welcomed back with a (muted) video of a live stream at the top of the page (a subscribed stream for subscribers and a trending stream for non-subscribers) .
The rest of the page has video options, which are broken down into useful categories such as featured, trending, suggested and popular. On the right-hand side a pop-out menu shows subscribed channels – live streaming broadcasts are at the top and have an ‘active’ red dot. On the left-hand side of the screen are individual game pages, with user subscribed games also comfortably located at the top, followed underneath by trending and featured pages.
These individual game pages are the most noticeable new feature in YouTube Gaming. They allow users to hone in on their favourite game and see all available options, which are neatly broken down into ‘live’, ‘followed’, ‘popular’ and ‘Let’s Play’. In a statement from Google, Gina Shalavi explained to Best VPN what ‘Lets Play’ is all about,
‘”Let’s Play” showcases a gamer playing a game in sequence end to end. The gamer adds commentary as he/she documents a playthrough.’
In YouTube, Gaming channel pages have also been tailored to give gamers a better experience, showing archived and streaming videos by particular users in separate customizable sections. A final noteworthy feature of Google’s new streaming site is the option to rewind and go back to any specific moment of live streaming matches, allowing viewers to re-watch any outstanding gameplay moments.
Unfortunately, YouTube Gaming is not available in countries where YouTube is banned. That means that if you live in Brazil, Turkey, Thailand, Turkmenistan, China, North Korea, Iran, or Pakistan a VPN service will be necessary. Not also forgetting, that due to the ongoing dispute between YouTube and the Gesellschaft für musicalise Aufführungs- und mechanische Vervielfältigungsrechte (GEMA), YouTube is not available in Germany either.
As with all geo-locked content, you can get around this problem by using a VPN to make your IP address look like it is in a country that does have YouTube. For anyone that wants to stream videos of themselves, or watch videos and live streams of other people playing games, one of the options in our 5 best VPNs for 2015 article will be a safe bet – with Express VPN (top of the list) a vindicated choice.
A final piece of news that might interest gamers; China is also planning to release a streaming videos site for gamers called Panda TV. That announcement came from Chinese social media celebrity Wang Sicong, who is the son of the wealthiest man in China (Wang Jianlin – worth $26.5 billion, according to Forbes).