It looks like Twitch has won the notorious gaming stream war between Google and Amazon. As of 30th of May, Google will be shutting down the YouTube Gaming app as well as its standalone website gaming.youtube.com. According to data compiled by game analytics company Newzoo – Twitch saw nearly 64,000 users generating 1.9 million hours of live video content at the start of the year. During the same period, YouTube Gaming had 22,000 users who produced 460,000 hours of content.
YouTube Gaming launched back in 2015 as both a website and an app for Android and iOS. Over the course of its development, the YouTube Gaming app was updated with the goal of highlighting creators; and a new hub was launched in September 2018 with finding new games and streamers as a priority.
“The problem is if you didn’t have the app, or you weren’t using the gaming hub to kind of like discover this content, creators weren’t as discoverable. So many of these users are just using YouTube and the regular YouTube experience. You’d have some people that funnelled through into the gaming app, or the gaming destination, but we were finding we still weren’t touching many people daily.”Ryan Wyatt, Head of Gaming at YouTube (Quote from Polygon)
YouTube serves more than 50 billion hours of gaming content a year, but people just aren’t viewing those hours through the gaming-specific site and apps. This plan was already in motion earlier as Google had already pulled the app from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store earlier this year.
The decision to shutter the YouTube Gaming app largely seems focused on funnelling traffic to the main YouTube app, as opposed to splintering audience across multiple destinations. For those of you that stream on the reg or actually use the app the death of the standalone portals shouldn’t result in the loss of any content, and livestreaming is still supported on YouTube. A support page does detail some of the changes users will have to deal with, like the merging of YouTube Gaming and normal YouTube subscriptions. Users will also lose their list of followed games, which isn’t supported on YouTube. Google is directing former YouTube Gaming users to a gaming sub-page YouTube.com/gaming , which has some of the YouTube Gaming features intact.
YouTube Gaming can be added to the long list of Google shutdowns in 2019. The company has been aggressively culling its lineup of services and just this year has killed Google+, Google Inbox, Google Allo, the Chromecast Audio, and many others. Even Google Hangouts and Google Play Music are scheduled to shut down in the near future.
This news, however, isn’t Google pulling out of gaming. In fact, in case you missed its most recent news, the company is launching a new gaming service entitled Google Stadia. A new service designed to stream high-end video games over the internet. YouTube is at the core of Google Stadia; viewers will be able to play games directly from trailers on YouTube, find video walkthroughs via Google Assistant, and join their favourite YouTube streamers in multiplayer games. Read more about Google Stadia here.