Update: After a long and winding road, YouTube Gaming has finally arrived.
YouTube revealed in June that it's jumping into the game-streaming arena with a new service called YouTube Gaming. Its opponent? The Amazon-owned Twitch, one of the most popular destinations on the internet.
This 800-pound gorilla of the streaming world is where 100 million viewers go every month to catch their favorite personalities, watch live announcements and see the latest events from around the gaming industry streamed live.
Though other competitors have risen to take on Twitch, the most notable of which was the upstart Hitbox, YouTube might be the strongest yet. After all, it's got tech giant Google in its corner.
Even so, YouTube is still fighting an uphill battle.
What can YouTube do that Twitch doesn't already? I have a few ideas, but I also wanted to get a sense of what streamers - from small hobbyists to well-known personalities, all of whom focus on different kinds of content - think about YouTube's move into the field.
Specifically, I asked what they think YouTube could offer that would give it an edge against the well-entrenched Twitch. As some of them have Twitch partnerships, I opted to keep them anonymous. You'll find their thoughts below, along with my own take on how YouTube Gaming can take down Twitch.
1. Offer better archival and search tools
In August 2014, Twitch rolled out several changes to the way it stored old broadcasts. Among them was a limit to the amount of time video of a past broadcast would be stored on its servers, unless it was designated as a "highlight." While users can export video streams from Twitch to YouTube, doing so remains a cumbersome process.
But since YouTube Gaming is, well, YouTube, archival has the potential to be much easier, simpler and faster, if not instantaneous.
Another difficulty Twitch faces is finding pre-recorded streams of specific games. It's easy to find someone who's currently online, but finding past streams of someone playing New Super Mario Bros. 2 on 3DS, for example, remains a major problem.
YouTube, with Google's search engine backing, could make finding streams of your favorite gaming obscurities a cinch, and could possibly even appear in basic Google searches if the company decides to go down that route.
2. Get exclusive broadcast rights to big events
It might seem like a dirty move, but it's the truth: the easiest way to get an audience is to secure exclusive broadcast rights to an event that people want to see.
"I think Twitch doing that in 2012 or so helped fuel the migration of gaming streams to their service from Ustream's," one gaming marathon organizer told me. "So I could see it happening again if [YouTube] offered a better-enough service."
However, YouTube doesn't necessarily have to snag big-time eSports like EGL or EVO to grow an audience.
A lengthy event with multiple must-see sessions, like the week-long Games Done Quick charity showcases, draws a lot of viewers and participants over seven days. An event along those lines could bring in the viewers for the new service who would then hopefully stick around to watch other streams – and make their own.
To that point, YouTube Gaming had a major presence during the recent E3 2015 gaming expo in Los Angeles, complete with hosts who followed along with show happenings all day long. Twitch hosted several E3 press conferences, too, so the two may need to lay claim to other big gaming events - or duke it out over who owns E3.
3. More reliable servers and less stream delay
Anyone who has streamed on Twitch has likely encountered outages or other server hiccups from time to time. While these outages can be a hassle, the big issue is stream delay, which affects when viewers can see what a player is doing and when the streamer can see what's being said in the chat.
Stream delay was first introduced in August 2014 as a compromise to try to improve the service's general performance and reduce server strain, it's still a topic of much consternation.
"[I'd like it] back to the levels it used to be at a 5-10 second delay," said a well-known stream personality.
Other streamers, however, didn't see the delay as too problematic. "Less stream delay isn't as big of a deal [for me]... It's nice, but frankly it's hard for me to read everything while playing," says a Twitch speedrunner.
For those bothered by lag times, a shorter delay between streamers and viewers could put an easy point in YouTube Gaming's win column.