Player Two Has Entered The Esports Streaming Game

YouTube Gaming launched last Wednesday and after nearly a week of observations, the Google powered streaming service has left several big impressions. Before fully diving into the details, it should be noted that YTG represents the first real challenger (sorry, Major League Gaming TV) to the currently undisputed streaming service of Twitch.TV. Last year Amazon purchased Twitch after Google reportedly backed out despite tentatively agreeing to a price tag upwards of $1 billion. Amazon ended up paying approximately $970 million to acquire Twitch, representing an investment — and presumably a belief — in the continued success of streaming esports and video games.

Other than huge difference in viewership numbers, something not particularly unexpected given YTG is still in its infancy, there are some differences in the layout and execution of the two platforms. For the duration of this look-in, YTG will be on the left-hand side with Twitch being on the right. Pictured below is the same moment (as close as I could get) in a StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void beta game between two pairs of professional players that has been paused. The screenshot was a VOD (Video On Demand) rather than live as I couldn’t quite grab the right timing during each live broadcast. The match up took place at Red Bull Battlegrounds, something YTG labels in the upper left whereas Twitch does not during a full screen pause.

comparison1It isn’t a deal making feature for YouTube, however it is a nice feature that normal YouTube videos have that has carried over to the streaming side of things. Another big chip in YTG’s favor is their pausing the VODs. YouTube grants the ability to navigate away from a specific spot in a video and being able to hit the back button and go right to where the video was paused. Twitch on the other will send you back to the beginning of the VOD rather than save a spot. For anyone who’s ever played a video game for more than a few minutes, misclicks or the wrong hotkey being hit are bound to happen, so this pause-and-return feature is another great feature from standard YouTube.

The game search options for both options each leave much to be desired as both sport autocomplete options, but neither are particularly great.

comparison2After clicking the game, in this case Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Twitch welcomes you to a page featuring the top streams rated by current viewership sortable by specific maps. This is a big contrast from the generic YouTube landing page where it shows a video from a year ago as its top result and zero live streams. After browsing the various YTG videos, most turned out to be previously uploaded videos rather than live stream VODs. As it gains a more extensive VOD library I expect this to change, but it’s somewhat surprising to see two of the top six YTG search results be from more than four months ago.

comparison3Another issue I routinely saw with YouTube that I’m willing to chalk up to it still being new is the lack of moderators for the stream chats. Of the two dozen or so YTG streams I was in, the chat was running rampant with a mix of memes, ASCII characters and the like. Obviously Twitch chat is nothing to brag about, but at least a majority of the ridiculous fluff was removed by mods in the Twitch channels I frequent. To be honest, my friends have nicknamed Twitch chat — and by extension most stream chats — as YouTube comments in real time, something that is not a compliment to anyone who has delved into the depths of said comments.

Despite the flaws, I remain optimistic YouTube Gaming will get up to speed and soon give Twitch a real live streaming threat in the esports realm. As someone who has dealt with streaming issues since Justin.TV and an esports fan who grows weary of Twitch issues — specifically video stuttering or freezing and frame-rate drops despite a strong internet connection and computer — hopefully the competition YTG brings to the table will bring out the best in themselves and in Twitch, resulting in the best possible outcomes for the users. While I remain unimpressed with YouTube Gaming at the moment, I’m eager to see what the coming months brings for their viewer options. I can’t see this becoming Google Glass or Google+; this is one project that seems incredibly likely to succeed if for no other reason than that the market and demand is already in place.

You can catch David spouting off about baseball, soccer, esports and other things by following him on twitter, @davidwiers.

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8 years ago

I’ve been checking in on Youtube Gaming streamer numbers and they’re shockingly low. Streams with less than 20 viewers are consistently in the top 50, and the top stream on twitch is lucky to get 4,000+. (Numbers for comparison: twitch’s top streams are consistently over 20,000 viewers and you won’t find a top 50 stream with less than 1,000 – 2,000 viewers.)

I know it’s early, but this is Youtube. If anyone could snag market share it would have been them. They needed a flawless launch and an extra gimmick to entice high-end streamers away from their comfy Twitch homes.

8 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

*Top 50 streams on youtube get less than 20 viewers (Twitch top 50’s are all four digits.)

8 years ago

I prefer, but if YouTube want’s to steal market share they need high quality streaming software. I haven’t messed around with it yet, but using 3rd party apps for Twitch is a pain in the rear. What Youtube or Hitbox needs to do is partner up with Microsoft and add their service as a build in feature to Windows 10 so you can stream nativly on ala Xbox One. I expect that as these two sites crack down on music and other things that more and more people will move to Hitbox though.