YouTube Gaming Is Taking On Twitch, But Who Will Win?
25 November 2015, 18:13 | Updated: 17 July 2017, 12:11
Which is best?
Did you know there are better things to do in the world than actually play video games? Yes there is, and it's called watching people play video games in real time and it's massively popular online. In case you didn't already know.
It's not uncommon knowledge that in 2015 the gaming industry is now more profitable than both music and movies combined. Think about that little truth nugget for a while.
If you've been on YouTube or our site for longer than five minutes you will probably have picked up on the fact that we're dealing with "digital celebrities" at the moment - and the world is going nuts for them. This is proving to have significant knock-on effects for gaming and its rise to the top when you consider that 30% of most subscribed channels on YouTube consist of gaming specific content creators.
If you don't believe me, look at this image below and tell me which people you know on the list. This is not a test of snobbery, but it could in fact prove our point that the YouTube celebrities themselves are now more famous than the creators and developers behind the games they play.
(Top Row, L-R: Felix Kjellberg, Sean McLoughlin, Mark Fischbach. Bottom Row, L-R: Phil Fish, Shuhei Yoshida, Bobby Kotick)
But what happens when there are multiple ways to watch people play video games? What happens when one of them is brand new and one of them is established? And most importantly, what happens when their audiences collide?
We The Unicorns have created a handy list for you in case such a decision takes place in your life. We'll be looking at the main differences/similarities between YouTube Gaming and Twitch to determine which one is better for your buck in the coming years.
The main difference here is that Twitch has been an established gaming broadcaster for 4 years, pulling in a record 100 million views last month alone... which could mean big problems for YouTube Gaming when the hassle of migrating preferences comes to light.
For YouTube Gaming, no official stats have been released yet, either because it's still in its baby stage or simply because there's nothing worth writing home about. One of its strong points could be the fact that lots of users new to streaming may go to this trusted video platform first, however herein lies its main downfall - big-time Twitch fans may have already set up camp elsewhere with no hope of returning.
WINNER: Twitch, as an established and hugely popular website, could tip the balance here as it's been on the scene for such an impressive amount of time. But if YouTube convinces enough of it's prominent gaming celebs to the streaming service then they could be onto a blinder, as we discover next...
YouTube is a testimony to just how powerful social media can be. In just 10 short years on this Earth it has literally changed the way we consume and share information, as well as the fact it has created it's own in-house celebrities. A feat the opposition is certain to idolise.
Twitch boasts it's own collection of well-known names from Minecraft streamer Syndicate (who dominated this years EGX Convention) all the way to Sodapoppin, the pink haired beauty above. But whilst it holds the award for most consumed live content, it simply does not hold a torch to YouTube and their collective billionaires.
Pewdiepie, Vanoss, Jacksepticeye... If a venn diagram of your interests consists of both 'gaming' and 'YouTube' you are certain to have heard of them. YouTube's A-List of gaming broadcasters only have to consider YouTube Gaming and they can bring the whole platform to the top of pile.
WINNER: Until they get a little help of their most trusted content creators, YouTube will rely on building up whole new live broadcasters. This means that, once again, Twitch's established line up scores them the points.
Usability is a massive issue when it comes to website design - trust us, we've all been there. For Twitch, a recognisable and simple interface has been the key seller for a long while, especially as it seems to keep its focus on finding new streamers and game content.
For YouTube Gaming, they've stuck relatively close to Twitch's interface success with an absence of colour and large video icons - on the cover they look practically the same. However, YouTube Gaming is implementing elements from its mother site to help its users not only find new broadcasters, but more comprehensive and personalised pages for content creators themselves.
Whats more, YouTube Gaming will be hosting not just live content, but archived 'non-live' video to ensure that subscribers have viewable content 24 hours a day from their favourite subscriptions. As soon as a live stream is finished, it's available quick as a flash as a complete video. Marvellous.
WINNER: YouTube keeps the user in mind as they stand on the doorstep with their credit card in hand begging for continuous content. A streamlined site with an acknowledgement for easy to find creators/games will keep YouTube Gaming above Twitch when push comes to shove over searchability.
This one is a bit more for the techies, and even more for those people who have suffered from the terrible technical issues of previous Twitch builds.
To put this in simple terms, Adobe Flash is a resource hog and is avoided at the best of times. It's crashing and constant need for updates/approval is the bane of any Internet pedestrians life, and unfortunately it's supported by Twitch. Though they say they are currently undergoing a process of migration to a better service, YouTube Gaming are already at the finish line, laughing with HTML5 at how foolish Twitch has been.
HTML5, if you didn't already know, is going to revolutionise online video. There's some boring facts about 4K quality, suitable for all bandwidths and decreased buffering - but lets not get too bogged down in the details. You can Google it for all the nitty gritty bits, but all you need to know is that it trumps Flash a million times over and will make watching all your favourite broadcasters an actually enjoyable experience.
WINNER: The real winner here is HTML5 and the things it can do to your browser, but as it's YouTube Gaming that's hosting it I suppose we have to give them the trophy. Sorry Twitch; dump the dead weight and we can talk again soon!
Twitch has a sordid history of server outages, big time crashes and massive hiccups when it comes to stream/chat delay. Which really doesn't help if you're on a site about watching people play video games in real time. You're gonna take your business elsewhere IMHO.
We can assume that since YouTube has capitalised on the whole 'most viewed video platform in the entire world' thing, that they know a thing or two about how to keep videos playing on a daily basis without errors or bugs ruining our fun.
YouTube Gaming may hit snags when it comes to storing the sheer about of data being streamed/broadcasted/archived everyday, but we're going to hope for the best as even failing this is more positive than the crash-ridden Twitch servers.
WINNER: Twitch is often pegged as an unreliable service. If YouTube Gaming can maintain a steady launch with minimal or transparent server issues then they can prove once and for all that they could contend with the popularity of Twitch's site.
Gaming events, whether you watch them or not, are a massive business in 2015. With people winning millions through eSports or attending in their millions the multitude of gaming conventions across the globe. One thing is for sure - if you're not there, you are 100% missing out. It's a good thing there's a website for that though...
Twitch, in my honest opinion, made eSports. They've always been a thing, but not on the grand scale they have become in recent years. Did you know that 5 people split a prize winning fund of over $6 million this year by playing DOTA2 better than other people in the room?? Yup.
While Twitch has eSports wrapped up pretty tightly, YouTube is wriggling onto its territory by hosting big time conventions such as E3 (which is basically Gaming Mecca) with industry professionals like Geoff Knightley. It may not come close to a million dollar producing competition, but eh, someone might watch it, right?
WINNER: As stated, Twitch made millionaires out of people who are good at gaming competitively. What more can we say? YouTube let some Swedish guy get 40 million subscribers for having a pug, hardly beating anyone on that front.
Ah, the archives. Much discussed before this point and yet, still so much more to say.
Now, not too much can be said for YouTube Gaming as it is currently in it's beginning stages of hosting and storing content, but the major element it is bragging is the ability to archive an unlimited amount and length of video almost immediately after/during it's broadcast.
Twitch on the other hand (even though its rumoured to be changing it's boundaries) can only archive videos up to a certain length. Even more so, it's driving a lot of it's premium content creators to resort to other methods to upload video, such as it's main video nemesis - YouTube.
WINNER: The last element of the article, and it's taken once more by YouTube and it's promise to hold more glorious visual content for us all to feast our eyes on. This can change however if Twitch sits up and hears the pleas from their subscribers to host longer content, but who knows!
Whilst the final score settles down to YOUTUBE GAMING 4 - 3 TWITCH, it certainly doesn't settle the issue of which is the better platform for you.
Hopefully this guide gives you enough of an informed decision to make your own choice about where to spend your free time as it was never our intention to demand your allegiance to one particular site.
For the anticipation of Markiplier or Pewdiepie broadcasts with faster streaming and a heck load more 'off-demand' content, YouTube Gaming is the station for you. If you prefer a more enriched and established brand that focuses on new streamers and sell-out eSports events, look no further than Twitch.
Please let us know what you thought about our list in the poll below by telling us which platform you will consider using for all your broadcasting desires!