YouTube Throws Hat Into Gaming Live Stream Ring

In case you were on vacation, not paying attention, or, yes, living under a rock in the past week, you may have missed some big news from the folks at YouTube. The company has decided to go head to head with Twitch by launching YouTube Gaming, a service dedicated to providing users with a place to share and stream their video game-themed content. For some, this means reviews of games old and new; for others, it’s a place to rant about what they see as problems with whichever game they’re playing; and for the rest, it’s all about streaming the action they’re getting into on a daily basis.

And so far, it’s looking pretty great for YouTube’s latest venture, which you can get more familiar with here. You can easily upload and share the content you have recorded and/or created while building quite a nice-looking page for your collection of clips. And given its massive established userbase—more than one billion to date—it wouldn’t be surprising if YouTube found longterm success with this service. Much of its content consists of video game-related material anyway, so it only makes sense to throw it into a neat little package. And I mean that in a literal sense, because more than 25,000 games have their own pages. For example, check out the page for the original Legend of Zelda installment. Ah, memories.

Beyond all that, it’s important to create more competition in the land of live streaming. Twitch basically carved out its own huge lane—quite impressively, may I add—alongside similar services that just can’t compete, either because of a lack of interest, a weak user interface, or some combination of those factors and others. That being said, Twitch needed a sizable competitor to keep it on its toes, and it looks like YouTube Gaming just may be up to the task.

While it’s off to a strong start, there are some instances where the service needs to get on track. First and foremost, YouTube Gaming could (and should!) embrace the online card-playing community. It may not be quite as enormous as in the early 2000s during the online poker boom, but there are still quite a few people playing the game—perhaps more than you think. According to Betfair’s poker site, the UK-based platform averages anywhere from 5,000 to 20,000 players depending on when you visit it. The company also regularly sponsors/hosts real-life poker tournaments, and it’s making some headway in the States where online gambling is legal. This lack of acknowledgement of a big community (so far, at least) was brought to light last week by Cards Chat.

In terms of more video game-heavy content, Forbes writer Paul Tassi brought up the fact that creators are running into issues with the Content ID. The article specifically points to user Jim Sterling, who runs a Patreon page to support his work and, as a result, doesn’t use advertisements on this channel. However, his video on Metal Gear Solid V microtransactions was flagged and there was the potential for ads to be included in his video, so that Konami would benefit from Sterling’s upload. This, Tassi noted, is “madness.” This type of thing probably won’t happen for games included in the eSports realm, particularly those from Blizzard and Valve, that rely on streaming. What of other games? Tassi wrote, “Would a game like Grand Theft Auto V manage to filter its way through Content ID with a radio full of copyrighted songs? I doubt it.”

These are criticisms of an admittedly new platform, sure, but they’re also valid. If YouTube is going to make its Gaming service into something as prominent as Twitch, questions like these need to be answered and handled before things are allowed to get worse.

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