The rising popularity of online video game streaming—that is, watching other people play video games live—really hit the mainstream once Twitch, the Internet's largest game-streaming platform, was bought out by Amazon for nearly a billion dollars last year. Anyone who thought that asking price was insane may not have realized that Google was about to spend roughly the same amount to acquire Twitch. In short, the value of running a game-streaming platform is rising, and the tech industry's big dogs know it.
As such, we weren't surprised to see a Tuesday report alleging that Google's YouTube arm is moving ahead with a game-streaming backup plan. The Daily Dot, quoting "sources within the streaming industry," reported that a "new-look YouTube Live" will launch in the foreseeable future, and that service will target live gaming and e-sports content in particular.
As proof of its seriousness, YouTube has already hired over 50 streaming-savvy engineers, the report said, and it hinted to "promotions and partnerships" designed to encourage more e-sports viewing on the main YouTube site. The Daily Dot predicted a YouTube Live reveal timed around this June's Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles. When asked about the report, a YouTube representative declined to comment to Ars and instead sent us an animated GIF of a little girl shrugging her shoulders. (No, seriously. This one.)
Assuming this report is accurate, we at Ars figured this was a matter of when, not if. In August, Peter Bright wrote about the infrastructure YouTube already has in place to support hobbyists' live video streaming, not to mention Google's ability to purchase exclusive streaming rights to all kinds of e-sports events. Bright also pointed to Twitch's uneven video-archive support—a fact that has kept a lot of high-earning streamers attached to YouTube, meaning they wouldn't have to walk very far to switch teams.<