Recently YouTube announced that it was shutting down the dedicated gaming app that it launched back in 2015. Support for the YouTube Gaming app will continue for the time being, before being discontinued in March 2019.
In place of the dedicated app, YouTube has launched a new gaming destination at YouTube.com/Gaming. At the same time it will integrate many of the features that were originally designed for its YouTube Gaming app into its main website.
When the YouTube Gaming app was first launched, it was designed to enable YouTube to directly compete with Twitch which was (and still is) the primary streaming platform that gamers favor. Unfortunately it never gained the traction that it was aiming for, as evidenced by the fact that the majority of the 200 million users on YouTube watching gaming content overall rarely used the dedicated app but preferred the main website.
Throughout its lifespan, the YouTube Gaming app introduced several features to increase its appeal. Most were underutilized however due to the fact that the app itself wasn’t popular among users, and the hope is that by shifting features over to the main website they’ll gain popularity.
Some of the features that were originally a part of YouTube Gaming are likely to do well on the main website, such as the dark theme and paid channel memberships. In the future features can be developed that that will be applied universally across YouTube.
The new gaming section on YouTube’s main website will appear as a tab on its left navigation bar. It will feature a personalized carousel of featured content at the top of the page, and other sections such as ‘Top live games’, ‘Top live streams’, ‘Trending videos’, ‘Videos from subscriptions’ and ‘Recommended’.
In short live video content and on-demand videos will now be featured side-by-side. Content creators that record gameplay using tools such as Gecata by Movavi will be able to feature them alongside livestreams on the same platform.
Some new feature are being introduced in the gaming section as well, the most noticeable of which being dedicated pages for individual games. Aside from displaying both live and on-demand content, the game pages will allow users to subscribe to games they want to follow and view other games created by the same developer and publisher.
Another feature in the works that will only be available to US users initially is a set of ‘On the Rise’ curated picks of content creators. The system YouTube is using seems to rely on a combination of an algorithm as well as human curation, which is why it is being released on a limited basis to start with.
In some ways the overall new approach that YouTube is taking seems to indicate how its competition with Twitch has evolved over the years. When the dedicated YouTube Gaming app first launched, it was meant to be positioned as a direct alternative to Twitch.
Since then however, Twitch has grown significantly and is now expanding beyond livestreaming and gaming content and into videos on demand and non-gaming content as well. In that way it will be more directly competing with YouTube’s main website.
It is too early to judge whether YouTube’s overhaul of its gaming section will be successful at fending off the challenge from Twitch but early indications seem positive.