- Pros: Familiar layout, useful DVR functions, can stream directly from Android devices.
- Cons: No direct streaming from Xbox One, recently made it harder to become a partner.
What is it?
YouTube Gaming is essentially Google's response to Twitch. It looks and acts a lot like standard YouTube but with a darker color scheme and focuses purely on live and on-demand video game videos.
There's a wide breadth of game-related videos to explore, ranging from simple soundtrack compilations, to walkthroughs, to cookery channels.
Is it easy to discover new things?
The home page has Recommended, Spotlight, and Trending sections all of which draw out videos or playlists that aren’t live right at that moment but have been uploaded previously. The videos here could be anywhere from a few hours to several weeks old but it’s a great way of discovering content you may have missed.
To get the newest stuff as it’s happening you simply have to click into the ‘Live’ tab. Here you’ll be able to see the top live videos happening at that moment. It’s easy to see when a video is live considering it has a big red ‘Live’ tag in the bottom right hand corner.
There are also sections that allow you to explore by game and by channel and they pull out the most popular titles and channels. There is, of course, a search bar to help you find something a little more specific.
Anyone familiar with the ordinary YouTube layout should find YouTube Gaming fairly easy to navigate which, naturally, makes it easier to delve in and find new videos whether they've been uploaded weeks ago or are being broadcast at that moment.
Is it easy to be discovered as a streamer?
A problem creators may face is that user subscriptions on YouTube Gaming are separate from their main account.
When you subscribe to a channel in YouTube Gaming, it won’t be added to your subscriptions on YouTube, so though it’s good for viewers in terms of organizing their subscriptions it does mean that as a streamer your subscribers will sometimes miss a lot from your YouTube Gaming account, especially if they're more inclined to watch things on standard YouTube.
This isn't so much a problem with being discovered as it is a problem with being re-discovered.
That said, those who have a large following on YouTube will probably find it easier to transfer this audience to YouTube Gaming than Twitch as it's much more familiar and closely aligned.
In addition, though subscriptions don't cross-over, any content uploaded to YouTube Gaming will also appear in search on standard YouTube but not vice versa which does make it more likely those interested in the content you're uploading are going to be able to find you via search and recommendations.
How's the viewing experience?
YouTube Gaming’s player is very similar to YouTube’s standard player, pulling up related videos and other videos from the creator you’re watching to catch your attention. Rather than underneath the videos, the comments section is to the right of the video which means you can continue watching while you read the comments (something that’s obviously essential during live streams).
In-stream DVR is also useful for viewers as it means they can go back up to 3 hours in a live stream if they show up late to the party. You can also pick the quality you’d like to watch in, which is especially useful if you don’t have an internet connection that’s up to a high quality stream.
You can watch on mobile, PC, and on your consoles.
How's the streaming experience?
Streaming on YouTube Gaming is fairly simple and can be done directly through the app on your PlayStation 4 console or on an Android smartphone (this isn’t currently possible on iOS devices). Unfortunately, there’s no live streaming straight from Xbox One consoles like on Twitch and you’ll have to use a capture card for this.
On PC you’ll need an encoder but YouTube has plenty of good suggestions for you. You don’t have to worry about frame rates and resolutions – YouTube detects the best stream resolution for you and transcodes to lower resolutions so that no matter what a persons’ internet connection is they can access your stream at a quality that suits them.
What's the community and chat like?
Chat moderation is possible on YouTube Gaming but it’s a little less well-developed than on Twitch. You can, however, assign moderators to live chat and block the use of specific words or block specific users from taking part in your chat entirely.
Of the three services we're comparing YouTube probably has the middle ground in terms of audience size.
Can I monetize my content?
Once your channel is relatively successful your largest amount of money is likely to come from securing sponsorship deals. You'll find opportunities to partner with big gaming brands and publishers, work with them to make sponsored content whether that's incorporating their products into your videos in some way or having a full video centered around them.
Before you get to this stage, though, you have to start on ad revenue.
It’s fairly easy to monetize your content on YouTube from early on thanks to ad revenue. Once you’ve become a YouTube Partner and your channel has had more than 10,000 lifetime views you’re able to start making a small amount of revenue from ads on your videos. 10,000 is a much higher barrier than YouTube Gaming set originally and this has raised the ire of some streamers just starting out.
Pre, post and mid-video ads will all make you some money, bearing in mind that the more impressions or views the ads get the more money you make, so having more regular viewers will generate more income though it will still be a small amount.
YouTube has also introduced the ability to add cards to your live videos. This means that when you’re live streaming you could have a Fan Funding card appear on the screen. This would allow your fans to donate to donate money to your channel as they watch. Of course, this is really only a good way to monetize if you’re already a popular and established content creator.
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Emma Boyle is TechRadar’s ex-Gaming Editor, and is now a content developer and freelance journalist. She has written for magazines and websites including T3, Stuff and The Independent. Emma currently works as a Content Developer in Edinburgh.