YouTube Gaming: First Impressions and Opportunities

YouTube Gaming

It’s been less than a week since YouTube released their direct answer to Twitch to the world, and as a lifelong gamer, I was more than ready to dive in head first! After a few pretty successful streams, here are my initial thoughts!

First day impressions

My first time landing on the YouTube Gaming homepage (the mobile app is very similar) was a fairly pleasant experience. You’re immediately greeted by a featured stream, followed by recommendations based on the channels you follow, your viewing habits, and suggestions from the YouTube Gaming staff.


The ‘collapsed’ left and right sides of the site act as game navigation and channel discovery, which not only lets users land on the pages they’re interested in, but the ‘star’ system is a quick way to keep up with games and channels without leaving the current stream.

Game streams definitely feel a bit different than Twitch’s – and not entirely in a good way. While the streams are very clean, there are some opportunities that YouTube should address in a future update.


  • Additional stats: Like Twitch, visibly show subscribers and total views
  • “Add” doesn’t feel scream “subscribe”, unless YouTube is planning to release a paid subscription option, similar to Twitch
  • Viewers like to donate. Bring Fan Funding more into the open
  • Enough with the ‘thumb down’ already

A few UI tweaks, minus the change to “Add”, as I feel there’s a reason behind it.


Going live

Having previously streamed on YouTube, the new technology behind YouTube Gaming is a breath of fresh air. What previously took 12 steps, now takes about 3! While we still need to use a 3rd-party encoder, the options on YouTube’s new Live Dashboard are very straight forward, and the option to rearrange the modules is fantastic!


While it would have been nice if YouTube teamed up with a company like Telestream, who creates Wirecast, there are many encoding options available, which YouTube outlines on their support article.

Streaming improvements

  • Clear chat: Allow streamers to clear previous chat if the subject matter of their stream changes
  • Viewers: Allow streamers to view all current viewers from the Live Dashboard
  • Who’s entering: Many streamers would love to know who enters and leaves a stream. To avoid flooding public chat, this could only appear on the Dashboard, if enabled

Identity crisis

As a YouTuber who primarily uploads non-gaming videos, I’m conflicted on the direction I should take. While I have a gaming channel, I would love the ability to create separation within my main channel, but there are a few things holding me back.

  • There’s no simple way to separate non-gaming content from gaming streams
    • With the YouTube Gaming profiles, a toggle could be present to only display streams/videos tagged with “Gaming”, and vice versa
  • Viewers who discover I’m live from traditional subscription boxes are not taken to the YouTube Gaming stream
    • If a stream is tagged with “Gaming”, all viewers should land on the YouTube Gaming stream

The uphill battle

There’s no question that YouTube Gaming is a fantastic platform, but competing directly against Twitch isn’t going to be easy, especially considering that many Twitch streamers are contractually ‘banned’ from streaming on other platforms. YouTube has the user base to make a very strong run, but more needs to be done.

  • Larger presence/marketing for eSports competitions to get users on the platform
  • Smarter marketing on why gamers should stream on YouTube instead of Twitch. I’ve seen none
    • Focus on Fan Funding (which very few streamers have enabled), YouTube’s strong user base, Cards, and more
  • Occasional stream recommendations on YouTube’s homepage (based on a viewers search history)
  • Integrate with YouTube search, displaying live stream for gaming related searches


Copyright woes

It’s no secret that YouTube’s copyright system is quite strict, but the lack of transparency around streaming rules is worrisome. We do know that copyrighted music will likely be hit with claims, but in terms of supported games and the audio that comes with them, we’re currently left in the dark.

  • When entering the game on the Live Dashboard, YouTube should warn users if content from the particular game is likely to be claimed
  • A directory of supported games should be available to streamers, separated into three categories
    • Free to stream/monetize – Free to stream but content may get claimed – Cannot be streamed

Strong start!

For a 1.0 launch, YouTube Gaming is off to a very strong start, but momentum needs to not only continue, but pick up fast. With the right moves, YouTube Gaming can become a very strong contender in the streaming space.