Slowly but surely, YouTube is building a serious Twitch competitor. With YouTube Gaming, you can live stream and watch your favorite streamers play video games. Launched in August, YouTube just announced a first major update.
First, you can now directly stream from your mobile phone using Mobile Capture on Android. I’m not sure why you would watch someone playing Candy Crush, but Hearthstone streamers might like this feature. It works pretty well as it uses your selfie camera to capture your face and put it in a corner of your stream while you play.
Like Twitch’s partnership program, you can pay a monthly Sponsorship subscription to support your favorite streamers, get a special badge and more. It costs $3.99 compared to $4.99 for Twitch. Twitch currently has 12,000 partners out of its 1.7 million broadcasters in its partnership program while YouTube is just starting. All streamers can also enable tips on Twitch via third-party apps.
This is different from Twitch Turbo, another subscription that lets you remove advertisements across the site. Similarly, YouTube Gaming sponsorships don’t remove advertisements.
There are other minor feature updates on the site and in the mobile apps. You can now more easily add games to your collection and see when there are live streams right now. You can use YouTube’s watch later feature directly on YouTube Gaming. The watch page on the website was redesigned. The mobile app will remember your previous searches.
Finally, the company announced that people are watching 144 billion minutes of recorded gaming videos and live streams on YouTube per month. Not bad, but it would be even more interesting to know how it breaks down between live streams and “traditional” YouTube videos.
Are all these features enough to seriously compete with Twitch? As YouTube can mix “Let’s Play” videos from YouTube with live streams, it already has a ton of content in addition to its live streams. If the company keeps iterating with regular new features, it won’t just be playing catch up with Twitch.