- YouTube has announced it will discontinue support for its YouTube Gaming app in March 2019 after less than four years.
- A new web portal, Youtube.com/gaming, will replace the service and allow users to search through video game specific content.
- More than 200 million users watch gaming content on YouTube everyday, but the company has struggled to endear the sense of community seen on Twitch, a competing streaming service.
The YouTube Gaming app will cease to be in March 2019, as the streaming service reassesses how to better serve one of its largest audiences.
YouTube users looking exclusively for video game content can now visit a revamped web portal for YouTube Gaming that separates videos by game, and promotes live streamers at youtube.com/gaming.
YouTube Gaming launched in 2015 as a competitor to Twitch, a gaming focused streaming platform that has become wildly popular for gamers looking to build a following and monetise their playtime. YouTube boasts more than 200 million viewers for video game content every day and 50 billion hours of gaming videos watched in the last year, but struggles to build the sort of of dedicated gaming communities seen on Twitch.
Major gaming events and individual content creators alike have chosen to partner with Twitch due to its monetisation options and a larger focus on community interaction. While YouTube and Twitch both offer a chat service for viewers, Twitch has built a culture across the site with the use of emotes and moderators who voluntarily watch the live chat for bad behaviour. Viewers can also subscribe to specific channels for exclusive emotes, and they can purchase a sitewide currency to tip streamers they enjoy.
The ability to earn money while creating content without relying on viewer counts or ad revenue brought a number of popular non-gaming content creators to Twitch, prompting the company to launch Twitch Creative in 2015, the same year YouTube Gaming rolled out. With the line between gaming specific and creative content blurring, YouTube found itself in competition with Twitch for popular content creators. YouTube began offering its own channel subscriptions in June 2018; viewers receive a special badge next to their name and access to subscriber only chats.
The new YouTube Gaming portal feels familiar to Twitch’s layout as well, with a handful of featured videos or streams being promoted at the top of the page, and the rest of the content sorted by game or viewer engagement.
For gamers who are looking to avoid the rest of YouTube, the portal is straightforward and organised, but it remains to be seen if the site can spark a greater level of engagement between YouTube gaming channels and the millions of viewers using the side for on-demand video. YouTube has committed to highlighting a “Gaming Creator on the Rise” each week to help promote less popular channels.
Video game content remains a major portion of the greater YouTube audience: Swedish gamer Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg has owned the most followed YouTube channel since 2013 and now boasts more than 66 million followers. However, the failure of the YouTube Gaming app shows that the streaming service is still struggling to retain viewer interest and guide them to new content.
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