YouTube has a new strategy for taking on Twitch: It’s letting YouTube gamers mingle with regular YouTubers again. The Google-owned video service launched a new destination for video game content on YouTube.com Tuesday, and also announced that it will phase out its standalone YouTube Gaming app in March of 2019.
“We have a strong and vibrant audience on the YouTube Gaming app, but the amount of gamers we are able to reach is far bigger on YouTube,” wrote YouTube director of product management Christina Chen in a blog post Tuesday. “After all, YouTube is where more than 200 million gamers come to engage with your favorite games and creators every day, watching over 50 billion hours of gaming content in the last 12 months alone.”
YouTube’s new gaming destination personalizes video game content based on a user’s favorite games, and automatically integrates the content from any of the video game channels they already subscribe to.
YouTube is also launching dedicated game pages to aggregate all of the videos and streams for a specific game. “With tens of thousands of different game pages, you’ll be able to find content no matter how big or small the game is,” wrote Chen.
YouTube first launched a dedicated YouTube Gaming app in 2015, and has since used the app to pioneer some features that ultimately found their way to YouTube’s entire service, including Super Chat donations and paid memberships for creators as well as YouTube’s dark theme. That work is ongoing, and creators should expect other features specific to the gaming app — including the ability to stream mobile game play — to eventually find their way to YouTube’s main app as well.
But while the app was originally meant to counter Amazon’s Twitch video game streaming service, it never really managed to attract the same kind of audience. Case in point: Twitch’s Android app ranked 15th among the most popular entertainment apps on Google’s Play Store last week, according to data from app analytics specialist App Annie. YouTube Gaming on the other hand was ranked #283.