YouTube wants to take on Amazon's $970 million Twitch, but there's a problem

YouTube GamingMatt WeinbergerFrom the landing page at YouTube Gaming.

This summer, YouTube is getting a dedicated YouTube Gaming site and mobile app, devoted entirely to filling the massive demand for live-broadcasted video games, including the competitive realm of eSports. 

Google describes its new offering as “a YouTube built for gamers.”

It’s a clear shot across the bow at Amazon, which spent $US970 million last year to acquire Twitch, far and away the leading site for this growing market. In fact, word is that Google tried to buy Twitch at the same time, and rumours that Google has been working on a Twitch-killer have been swirling for some time.

The most popular gamers who live-stream their playing for the public on Twitch can rake in decent dough from advertising revenue, subscription revenue and donations from viewers. So for a lot of gamers, the stakes are high. 

Obviously, YouTube, the biggest video sharing site on the web, has some advantages here, beyond just a built-in audience — it has the technology to automatically scale the resolution of a video up and down depending on the quality of the watcher’s Internet connection, which is something Twitch currently lacks.

Plus, from early screenshots, it seems that YouTube Gaming will let broadcasters customise the look of their channels in a way that Twitch currently doesn’t allow for. 

But there are already some caveats to the service that may mean YouTube Gaming has an uphill climb ahead if it wants to unseat Twitch at the top: 

  1. Within moments of YouTube Gaming’s announcement, reports started popping up on Twitter that they couldn’t get to the new site — an inauspicious start to a service that’s supposed to reach millions.
  2. YouTube has a history of working with game publishers to take down content that they deem to be violating their copyright. In fact, Nintendo made waves earlier this year when it tried to claim a portion of the advertising revenue from anybody streaming their games on services like YouTube. That may scare away would-be broadcasters.
  3. Perhaps most important, YouTube is very limited in Europe and other parts of the world, potentially limiting the audience by huge amounts, as pointed out on Twitter by Jesse Cox, founder of the very popular Stellar Lotus eSports team.

Still, it seems that a lot of prominent streamers are just happy about Twitch having real competition, hopefully urging both services towards greater heights. 

Some, like Cox, are a little more mercenary: 

Twitch, for its part, isn’t impressed: 


Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.

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