- Google's YouTube video-sharing site plans to shut down its YouTube Gaming app in March 2019 after introducing a revamped web portal dedicated to video game content, company announced in a blog post. The YouTube Gaming section of its website groups videos by game and promotes livestreamers, similar to Amazon's Twitch platform, Business Insider reported.
- YouTube Gaming will showcase lesser-known creators of gaming video content with a section called "On The Rise" that features curated picks every week. To start, the section is only available in the U.S., according to The Verge.
- More than 200 million people worldwide view gaming content on YouTube each day. That audience has watched more than 50 billion hours of gaming videos in the past 12 months, YouTube said.
YouTube's rollout of a redesigned gaming section and its plans to retire its standalone gaming app could help the company unify its efforts to reach the millions of people who enjoy watching others play video games, compete in esports events and share gaming tips and commentary with a community of enthusiasts. The separate YouTube Gaming app wasn't gaining much traction compared to the slew of video game content on its website, and led to confusion among its audience, YouTube's director of gaming content and partnerships Ryan Wyatt told The Verge.
Coming next spring, the revamped gaming platform is another effort to unseat Twitch as the market leader for viewers and creators of video game content. Twitch urges the development of original content by helping creators monetize their efforts with sponsorships and direct payments, called "tips," from viewers. Twitch has cultivated a community of enthusiasts, while moderators voluntarily watch live chats to report bad behavior. Twitch's monetization tools have even urged non-gaming content creators to adopt the platform, leading the company to launch Twitch Creative in 2015, as Business Insider noted, highlighting the mass appeal a cohesive platform like Twitch can hold to attract a wide user base.
Twitch has an average of 15 million daily active users, a number that rivals top cable networks. Viewership has grown 51% to 45 billion minutes a month in 2018 from a year earlier, and the number of individual broadcasters has jumped 61% to 3.2 million, according to Twitch data. Along with Twitch, YouTube Gaming's competitors include Microsoft's Mixer, Twitter Live and Facebook's Fb.gg.
The popularity of gaming content continues to draw interest from traditional media companies as well. This month, 21st Century Fox invested $100 million in Caffeine, a startup streaming service that's still in beta testing and will stream video games, esports tournaments and live concerts. Fox also formed a joint venture with Caffeine called Caffeine Studios that will produce exclusive video content, per Variety.