YouTube is years late to one of hottest trends in gaming

YouTube GamingYouTubeThe YouTube Gaming logo.

Livestreaming on the internet still isn’t quite as widely used as YouTube would like it to be.

Since launching in 2011, the functionality on YouTube hasn’t exactly blown up.

There is one place, though, where livestreaming is a common standard: the world of video games.

Look no further than Amazon’s purchase of game streaming giant Twitch for $US1 billion last year for proof of that. Plus, both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have built-in livestreaming capabilities.

There’s even a button on the PlayStation 4 gamepad dedicated to capturing footage and streaming it live to the internet, right from your couch.

PlayStation 4 gamepadBen Gilbert / Tech InsiderThe PlayStation 4 gamepad’s Share button, used for capturing footage and streaming it live online.

Notoriously, neither the Xbox One nor the PlayStation 4 have the ability to stream using YouTube. Despite this setback, YouTube is pushing forward with an initiative known as “YouTube Gaming.” And it’s aimed squarely at Amazon’s video game streaming giant, Twitch.

“More people are watching gaming content on YouTube than anywhere else in the world,” Ryan Wyatt, Global Head of Gaming Content at YouTube told Tech Insider in an email. “We designed YouTube Gaming to be the first one stop shop for all gaming content, for both live and [on demand].”

But even with more features and a more modern video player with HTML5, YouTube Gaming is literally years behind Twitch. Since 2011, Twitch has grown tremendously; the service streams every major video game trade show, press conference, and eSports event.

Perhaps more telling than anything else, YouTube reportedly attempted to purchase Twitch before Amazon did. Variety reported as much in May 2014, just three months before the official announcement that Amazon bought the streaming company.

YouTube Gaming is quite literally an attempted catch up after a failed acquisition. And while it’s a good effort, YouTube has a lot of ground to cover.

The service — a section of YouTube housed at Gaming.YouTube.com — collects the vast swath of gaming video on YouTube and combines it with the new livestreaming section. It’s this combination that YouTube is betting will peel some of Twitch’s vast userbase away, from viewers to streamers.

YouTube GamingYouTubeYouTube Gaming across several devices.

“With features like 1080p at 60FPS (up to 9MB/s), HTML5, live DVR and our YouTube Gaming app, we feel we separate ourselves from other live platforms from a product feature set,” Wyatt continued. It’s these features specifically that YouTube argues will trump those of Twitch, and Wyatt has a point.

Despite its popularity, Twitch feels woefully antiquated: its player is based in Flash, rather than HTML5, for starters. That’s a huge difference. Flash is slow, and it feels slow — it’s what makes using Twitch feel muddy. Twitch has started switching over to HTML5, a better programming language for streaming video, but it’s a slow process.

YouTube Gaming also, from a design perspective, looks much better:

YouTube GamingYouTubeThe layout of YouTube Gaming on the web.

YouTube is also rolling out an app alongside its official web launch today. It’s only on Android devices for now, but we expect it will make its way to Apple devices sooner than later. If nothing else, the web version of YouTube Gaming is available to everyone starting today.

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