Back in 2015, as a response to the increasing monopoly of Twitch in the video game live streaming sphere, Google launched Youtube Gaming, a standalone app and desktop site that operated as a separate entity from Youtube; it came with its own functionalities for both streamers and viewers alike. Borrowing elements from Twitch, Youtube implemented features such as Game Pages, Super Chat, and Channel Memberships to lure content creators away from Amazon’s juggernaut.
Alongside Twitch, Youtube Gaming became one of the main sources for watching Esports content, press conferences, and other such large gaming events. However, it became clear that while people still browsed gaming content on Youtube, many inevitably found it redundant to use its standalone gaming app.
According to Google’s official blog, more than 200 million people watch gaming content on Youtube every day, logging a total 50+ billion hours in the last year alone. From walkthroughs to streams to live reactions to reviews and analyses, the huge variety available on Youtube’s home page meant there was a demand for such content.
However, the standalone service itself had seen a gradual decline. Despite growing its streaming base by 343% in 2017, by the end of Q1 2018, Twitch had emerged victorious from the competition, cementing its place at the top with a 21% increase in viewership while Youtube Gaming dropped off in both average and peak concurrent viewers. At this point in time, the overwhelming presence of Twitch in gaming culture has ensured its dominance, so Youtube must pivot using its strengths as the premiere video platform in the world.
Citing a positive response to Youtube Gaming as a core reason, Youtube made the decision to migrate its gaming hub back over to the main Youtube experience. This should prove to be a smart decision, as the company already has a well-established viewer base for its main site. The unnecessary standalone service only served to confuse gamers, as many did not care to download yet another app for a singular purpose.
The gaming hub will be personalized based on the viewer, with game pages, live videos, uploaded videos, and more drawn from the individual’s subscriptions. There will also be dedicated video shelves for live streams and trending videos. Users are free to browse the myriad of game pages available, just like with the old Youtube Gaming service. Youtube will also introduce a “On the Rise” section to highlight up and coming streamers, hopefully so it can cultivate its own legion of content creators to pit against the Twitch army.
With better focus, much better reach and visibility, and a widespread viewer base, the new Youtube gaming destination should improve upon the weaknesses of the standalone service. Google will shut down its Youtube Gaming app next March.