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Google Announces YouTube Gaming Service

The site looks to take on Twitch by offering its own high quality streaming service.

What? No smartwatch support? Now how will I watch my all of my eSports?
What? No smartwatch support? Now how will I watch my all of my eSports?

Remember last summer when everyone was speculating that Google was looking to buy live streaming giant Twitch so that it could be integrated into their YouTube service, but then Amazon bought Twitch instead?

Well, today, YouTube announced their own live streaming app and website, "YouTube Gaming," that will serve as a hub for live streams, archived videos, and community interaction. YouTube Gaming will launch "later this summer," and will be at E3 showing off the platform to attendees.

The service will be organized around over 25,000 unique "game pages," each dedicated to a specific title. Users will be able to add games of interest to their "collection" in order to receive notifications whenever new content related to that game is available. Users will also be able to follow the channels of individual YouTube creators and some game companies. (Hey Jeff, just go ahead and follow Arc System now.)

The announcement emphasized a commitment to improving YouTube's live streaming experience:

On top of existing features like high frame rate streaming at 60fps, DVR, and automatically converting your stream into a YouTube video, we’re redesigning our system so that you no longer need to schedule a live event ahead of time. We’re also creating single link you can share for all your streams.

Some of this–the 60fps streams and DVR–is fantastic. The rest is... well... Honestly, it's sort of the bare minimum support necessary for a cohesive live streaming service, so it's good that the company is getting that into place. Hopefully once the foundation is locked down, YouTube Gaming will be able to introduce new features specifically built for broadcasting and archiving game video.

Twitch "welcomed" their new competitor to the field with a social media punch in the arm...

...but I suspect (and hope) that this playful rivalry will exist alongside strong competition that forces both companies to improve the services they're offering consumers. Last year, I interviewed a few folks at Twitch and it seemed like the company had a number of hurdles they needed to clear in order to expand and improve their services, and a strong alternative could help push them to take the necessary leaps. (This interview was before the Amazon acquisition, of course, so it's likely that the larger scale of the retail behemoth offered them some solutions.)

Twitch has had other competitors over the years, like Ustream and Hitbox, but none have really given Twitch a run for its money. YouTube has a few things those other services didn't though: A built in user base, established stars, and a huge backlog of content. Time will tell if that's enough for YouTube Gaming to take on Twitch and become a new destination for live streaming.