For some time now, Google has been toying with the idea of taking live streaming to a new level. Although I never qualified in the past to stream live on YouTube, I have seen a few broadcasts. However, most live channels have been related to politics or other foreign news affairs. Recently, Google tried to acquire Twitch for $1 billion, which the deal fell through. Now, there are rumors that YouTube is going to meet Twitch head-on on the field of battle.
At any given time, there are more than half a million viewers watching game streams and thousands of gamers broadcasting on Twitch. As I am one of these individuals, I can say that Twitch is a heavily accessed site with a great deal of potential. But, I am not sure how well the site will fare against YouTube and the power of Google.
Mobile Versatility is Key
One of the biggest problems that Twitch has right now is the ability to watch gaming streams from mobile devices. Currently, the Twitch app available for both Android and iOS has had nothing but complaints. The app is clunky, doesn’t always show the stream, crashes frequently and is not easy to use when looking for your favorite broadcasters. YouTube, on the other hand, is much easier to use and is more reliable.
A lot of those that watch and follow me do so through mobile devices. A few of my “fans” in particular don’t have computer systems and rely on tablets. According to these individuals, the app is extremely problematic. It’s getting to the point where some of them are debating giving up on watching Twitch streams.
Features, Bells and Whistles
Twitch lacks a lot of basic controls that you would assume that a world-wide streaming service would incorporate. For instance, I have to sift through 20 or 30 broadcasters just to watch someone playing World of Tanks in English. I know that a lot of people out there just like to watch the game being played, but I also enjoy the entertainment value of the broadcaster. If he or she isn’t entertaining or doesn’t speak, I don’t follow the account. My time is valuable and I’d rather stream it myself than to just simply watch someone playing the game.
Since YouTube has already been established in the video community, a large portion of its features are already present. This can give Google an advantage once they have ironed out all the kinks in live streaming. This is also aside from the fact that most smart TVs are built with the YouTube app ready to go. Personally, I have yet to see a TV with the Twitch logo as part of its “smart” package – believe me, I have been looking. We need a new TV and that is one of my prerequisites.
The Popularity War
I believe that it’s going to come down to a war of attrition for YouTube and Twitch. Both have excellent potential and a strong fan-base. It’s going to come down to which service is going to give the streamers and viewers what they want. If YouTube begins attracting the heavy-hitters of Twitch, then a very large portion of the watchers will move to YouTube leaving Twitch to slowly dwindle away.
It will be interesting to see how YouTube is going to attract the live gamer. Personally, I like Twitch – even though there are many things I wish it did differently or had available. But, I will definitely try streaming on YouTube when it becomes available simply to see what it’s like. I won’t alienate my viewers on Twitch, but I would like to try the system. After all, you can’t make statements about a product or service unless you use it first hand. Otherwise, it becomes nothing more than assumptions.