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YouTube launches live gaming site to take on Amazon’s Twitch

YouTube is launching YouTube Gaming, a new spin-off app and website for gamers that will make its debut in the summer, initially in the US and UK.

It will seek to capitalise on the popularity of gaming videos on YouTube, with profile pages for more than 25,000 games “from Asteroids to Zelda” collecting videos related to each title. Games publishers and YouTube gamers will also be prominently featured.

Live streaming will be a key focus as Google’s online video service tries to win back the initiative from Twitch – bought by Amazon for $970m in 2014.

“Live streams bring the gaming community closer together, so we’ve put them front-and-centre on the YouTube Gaming homepage,” wrote Alan Joyce, YouTube’s product manager for gaming, in a blogpost announcing the upcoming launch. “And in the coming weeks, we’ll launch an improved live experience that makes it simpler to broadcast your gameplay to YouTube.

“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 a single link you can share for all your streams.”

Twitch ended 2014 with a monthly audience of more than 100 million for its live and archived game streams. YouTube was stronger in pre-recorded “let’s play” videos and other gaming content.

Gaming videos are hugely popular on YouTube. The 100 most-viewed games channels in May 2015 accumulated just under 6bn views that month alone, according to online video industry site Tubefilter and analytics firm OpenSlate.

They were led by PewDiePie, the Swedish gamer who has become one of YouTube’s most recognisable faces. His channel has more than 37 million subscribers and generated 352m views in April alone. Other popular YouTube gaming channels include The Diamond Minecart (290m views in April), Popular MMOs (285m), Markiplier (222m) and Jack Septic Eye (219m).

YouTube has also started to fund gaming content, buying up exclusive rights to Wonder Quest, a new show recently launched by child-friendly Minecraft gamer Stampy.

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The launch of YouTube Games means that YouTube now has standalone sites for each of its three biggest video categories: games, music and children.

The company is currently running a beta test of its YouTube Music Key streaming service, with a commercial launch expected by the end of 2015.

Earlier in 2015 it launched YouTube Kids in the US, a standalone app designed to serve only child-friendly videos and channels. It has been criticised for a few slip-ups on that score.


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