Google may have lost Twitch to Amazon, but the company isn't going to give up on game live streaming. Today Google announced "YouTube Gaming," a new site and suite of apps that put video game streaming directly in YouTube. You can pretty much sum up the whole project by saying "it's Twitch, but built by Google."
Launching this summer in the US and UK, gaming.youtube.com will be a portal just for games—bascially the "Twitch" portion of YouTube. There will be game pages for "over 25,000" titles showing info about the games and a list of streamers playing them. There will also be channel pages for streaming personalities and companies. Searches from gaming.youtube.com will be sectioned off from the rest of the site, too—YouTube's blog post (which we received an advance copy of) says that "typing 'call' will show you Call of Duty and not Call Me Maybe." And of course, there's also chat.
The desktop site looks gorgeous, too. Rather than trying to cram streaming features into the existing YouTube UI, YouTube Gaming is a ground-up redesign of the interface, following Google's Material Design principles. Game pages (first image) have a huge image at the top of the page with a list of videos at the bottom. While Twitch only promotes live streams and treats old sessions as an afterthought, YouTube Gaming mixes live and recorded content together and just puts a "live" badge on live content.
One of the more interesting design touches is the vertical strip of icons to the left and right of the desktop page. The left side shows your favorite games, and the right side shows your favorite streamers. YouTube Gaming will work on phones and tablets, too, and everything rearranges the way you would expect.
So will anyone make the switch from Twitch? YouTube Gaming does have a few tricks up its sleeve. The first is that everyone is using YouTube already—Twitch doesn't really archive videos for longterm storage anymore, so just about every Twitch streamer also exports their videos to YouTube. With YouTube Gaming, the site will make this process happen automatically—all live streams become YouTube videos without the streamer having to do anything. Also, unlike Twitch, YouTube livestreams can be instantly rewound or watched on a delay, just like a DVR.
Naturally we have a ton of questions, like what monetization options there are for streamers, what platforms this will run on (as far as we see, desktop and Android), and we don't even have a picture of the main livestream interface. This is only the announcement, though—we're live at the launch event and will try to track down more info.