YouTube Gaming: Next Level or Game Over?


I’ll be the first to admit I’m obsessed with Let’s Plays. Most of the games I’ve bought in the past few months I’ve heard of through Let’s Play channels like Achievement Hunter, Game Grumps, and Markiplier, and when I want to see if a certain game will be worth buying for me, I’ll check out a Let’s Play on it.

Even more than that, they’re fun to watch because they’re hilarious and they center around video games, one of my favorite topics.

And as prevalent as Let’s Players are in gaming culture, there’s a new player that’s entered the arena fairly recently: live-streaming.

Live-streaming has become increasingly popular in the past year or so, because not only is it more accessible to the every day gamer, as in, you don’t necessarily need a set schedule for when your content will be up, it also allows viewers to communicate with the streamer while they’re playing so it can create a conversation between them. It’s a different type of immersive experience.

Up until now, streaming and previously recorded Let’s Plays have been kept fairly separated, since gaming channels will be on YouTube while streamers will take to sites like Twitch or Daily Motion specifically to stream. Well, that may be about to change.

YouTube fired up YouTube Gaming in a very quiet and casual launch, not much more than just a cute, little graphic of a video game controller in the corner of the logo to announce the new feature’s arrival.

Basically, it’s like YouTube took Twitch and squished them together into a super, mega-gaming conglomerate. Now, YouTube is a one-stop shop for gamers to post their content as well as stream without ever switching between sites.

According to BBC‘s Chris Fox, YouTube’s head of gaming Ryan Wyatt said that with this was their way of creating “a one-stop shop for all gaming content.”

So here’s how this will all work.

When you want to stream, YouTube will give you the option to “Go Live!” with your account and once you’re verified, YouTube will give you an URL that you can use to stream with. Then, you’re off and running.

YouTube Gaming organizes the videos by what game is being played but also by who’s playing them, so if you have a specific game you want to see played but don’t care who is playing it (or the inverse, for that matter), it’s easy to find what you’re looking for.

Like Twitch, YouTube Gaming will feature a “tip jar” where viewers can donate to the broadcaster and show their appreciation for the work they do.

Basically, YouTube Gaming has all the pieces to creating a really great system through which gamers can create and share content through both avenues, both Let’s Plays and live-streaming.

But how will this new venture fare?

Like the old saying goes, “you can’t fix what isn’t broken,” so it’s hard to imagine a lot of streamers who already have a considerable following migrating back over to YouTube when they have a pretty sweet deal over at Twitch.

That doesn’t mean that it won’t have much traffic however. If major gaming channels decide to give this new feature a whirl, it could create a whole new stage for live-streaming. Besides that, this new feature could give someone who’s been on the fence about whether or not they should try streaming the final push to give it a shot.

Wyatt also said that he can imagine this platform extending beyond the gaming world. “I can picture sports, beauty tutorials, live cooking streams.” This could be awesome, in a world where fast is always becoming faster, to be able to have people live-stream and expedite the “comment” process that YouTubers always have to deal with could make this world a little smaller.

But as we see every time an industry giant tries to get back on top of the game by reaching into unfamiliar territory, there are some caveats.

YouTube’s infamous Content ID policy will extend into these streams. The system will terminate broadcasts if “third-party content”, such as music, is detected, which Twitch doesn’t do.

YouTube’s Content ID system has proven a pain in the ass for many a vlogger, but particularly Let’s Players, where copyrights from every angle are abundant. It’s a huge inconvenience for the Let’s Player whenever a video gets flagged or taken down because that’s their content that they’ve worked hard on that they now don’t get to share with their fans unless they fix it.
And I understand that copyrights are a whole big, legal spider web that I know I want nothing to do with, but striking someone’s account for an honest mistake seems a little excessive.
This is annoying enough when it’s on content that’s been created, edited, and uploaded by people who work really hard at what they, but with live-streaming, it could be disastrous.

Video games are all about forward mobility, whether it’s in a story, a fight, a quest, whatever. When you reach an obstacle that completely stops your forward motion, you get irritated.

Terminating a stream right in the middle of it is jarring and frustrating not just for the fans, but for the streamer, who’s no doubt going to lose viewers as they sort out the issue and deal with whatever punishment YouTube deals to their account.

I can’t imagine there’s anything much worse to a streamer than their stream being interrupted.

youtube-gamingNow I’m not saying that YouTube should’ve given up on the streaming venture altogether, because they obviously have a right to try and match up with their competitors and still keep their policies. But when it’s such a strict policy with such a steep punishment for infractions, it’s just not a great formula.

Of course, that’s not to say that every streamer who uses this feature will have to deal with the Content ID issue. If they know the rules and follow them, there won’t be a problem and it’ll be smooth sailing. But there are always slip-ups.

YouTube Gaming is brand, spanking new and therefore, these are all just first impressions on how this could go. I could be completely wrong and this could be the best decision YouTube’s made in terms of gaming content.

Only time (and you!) will tell.

If you’re up to it, give the new system a try, see how it feels compared to streaming on other platforms, or maybe use this as a chance to start streaming for the very first time!