With YouTube Gaming, Google may finally have a viable competitor to Twitch

After several months under wraps, Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) answer to live-streamed gaming was unveiled on Friday. But does it have the ability to unseat Twitch as the leader in this segment? According to a review of the new service, it has a chance.

"Twitch has been the only real name in game streaming for the longest time. It now finally has a serious competitor with practically unlimited cash and bandwidth to deal with," Ars Technica's Ron Amadeo wrote.

YouTube Gaming is being previewed at E3 this week, with attendees getting a first look at the service's interface; some media, including Ars Technica, got a preview at YouTube's New York location ahead of the show.

Overall, the service--which will launch publicly at some point this summer according to a YouTube blog post--was impressive. "The video player is exactly what you'd expect from YouTube. Live video gets a continually updated seek bar called "DVR mode," and users can pause and rewind a livestream and watch it on a delay--that's a big advantage over Twitch," Amadeo wrote.

Other notable features include a separate login for YouTube Gaming, rather than a shared login with YouTube; a chat function; a content recommendation engine; channel pages; and Content ID monitoring of music used during livestreams.

All of that is built on top of YouTube's massively scaled infrastructure, which should keep buffering and latency to a minimum.

Amadeo's main worry about the success of YouTube Gaming was its monetization strategy. The service is, like the main YouTube site, entirely ad-supported. Twitch, on the other hand, relies upon monthly subscriptions.

But, considering that Google saw total advertising revenues of $15.5 billion in the first quarter of 2015 alone (of which YouTube ad revenues are a part) and sold out its Preferred premium advertising program last year, that lack of subscription revenue may not make much of a dent in profits--if gamers take to YouTube's new service.

Twitch, for its part, is hardly out of the game. It's owned by Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), giving it its own solid streaming infrastructure. And it has been looking to round out its offerings, adding an original music feature that live gamers can use instead of copyrighted music, and testing movie streaming.

For more:
- see this blog post
- Ars Technica has this review

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