Google is now officially taking on Twitch. As rumored, the company today announced YouTube Gaming, an app and dedicated website designed to be a home for all its gaming video both live-streamed and on demand. YouTube Gaming will launch this summer starting in the US and UK.
Google is positioning YouTube Gaming as a separate experience from the rest of YouTube; according to the announcement post, "you can search with confidence, knowing that typing 'call' will show you 'Call of Duty' and not 'Call Me Maybe'" (for the record, I'm seeing three Call of Duty suggestions ahead of "Call Me Maybe"). More than 25,000 games will reportedly have their own landing pages for related videos in addition to channels from game companies and YouTube content creators. It doesn't seem to be, however, an altogether separate platform — all the videos we're seeing today exist on YouTube proper as well.
While YouTube is a behemoth when it comes to online video, livestream and broadcast gameplay has been dominated by Twitch, which as of last year boasted 100 million viewers each month. (Related: Google was rumored last year to be acquiring Twitch before Amazon picked it up for $970 million.) Some of it has to do with technology; Google launched 60 frames per second video playback earlier this year — especially important for recording and watching modern games online — and its 60fps live streaming debuted just a few weeks ago in early preview. Google today is promising "an improved live experience that makes it simpler to broadcast your gameplay to YouTube." That includes, according to product manager Barbara Macdonald, improved latency, highlight clipping, and more. And yes, you can monetize the streams through ads (including midroll ads) and fan funding — no premium subscription options at this point.