YouTube has now finally, in a bit of a sneak attack (it was just suddenly there), launched their dedicated gaming platform.
Their reasoning behind it: Until now, audiences needed to look in different places (competitors) for gaming videos on demand and live streams.
This new platform will provide it all in one space. As this is a bit of a warning shot, if not to say war cry against other websites (cough Twitch cough), there is a big focus on said streams now.
All in all, the workings of the platform aren?t wildly different from the ?original? YouTube, but there are some new features that may confuse you, so let?s get to unravel them!?
Look & Feel
YouTube Gaming looks considerably different than plain old YouTube, with a slick, all-black interface that is as dark as the basements where many gamers reside.
Jokes aside, it looks pretty great. On the homepage there?s always a muted livestream on autoplay (a bit like what Facebook does to you lately), no matter if it interests you or not.
Click on it to unmute and watch or move on.
The makers promised to focus on gaming ?left right and centre?, and that is to be taken literally. On your left-hand-side you will find a menu that slides out when you hover over it with all your favourite games.
As with the standard YouTube, you can follow channels to stay on top of their content (see feature No.3) but unlike the old YT, you can also follow specific games now.
Should you want to look for a specific game, but not know yet which Let?s Player/Walkthrough-er/Stream to watch, this is the place to click. According to official press releases, ?more than 25,000 games will each have their own page?.
It?s just a jump to the left! And then a step to the right?.On your right-hand-side there is the same slide-out menu mechanism but this time for your channels.
There are tons of recommendations on people to follow, and this is also where you will find all your personal favourite creators.
However, subscriptions to gamers on the original YouTube do not transfer, so start filling that list with your most watched gamers now!
You?ll then get notifications whenever your subscribed channels start a live stream.
The Video Player
The actual video player itself is, in it?s standard size, much bigger than what we are used to.
This is nice as it allows you to quite comfortably watch a game now without necessarily having to put it to full-screen.
Another difference is the lack of annotations, at least so far.
Good for the audience, as my first step of watching a gaming video is always to disable those so I can view the game better, but this of course thwarts the creator?s plans to promote other playlists etc with their annotations.
The Channel Page
The actual creator pages now look different, a bit more like a G+ profile than anything else.
Playlists rank very highly in search results, but are also highlighted on the overview page of a creator. They feature prominently on their profile menu (together with ?about?, and so on). And everything is, again, just kind of bigger.
On the downside, this means looking for a specific, individual video (that may not be in a playlist) is a bit more of a pain as the thumbnails are so massive and thus it takes longer to leaf through all of them.
If you type in a search request, it will automatically rank all games high, and push all non-games content far far down the search results. What this means is, it will immediately show you what you were looking for, and you don?t have to scroll through many other videos until you finally find the game.
I wish this would have existed for my master thesis when I had to look up generic game titles such as Clock Tower or Rules of Rose!
I?ve tested this function by searching specifically for non-gaming content, and indeed, even if you type in ?Charlie Bit My Finger?, it takes a while to find the original video as Minecraft versions of this (I don't know why either) rank significantly higher.
New Live Stream Functionality
Lastly, the one big improvement to rule them all: besides the platform making it super easy to put on a high-quality livestream now, you can now, get this, rewind during a live broadcast.
This is something that other websites still lack (cough Twitch again cough).
This feature is great for all that want to follow e.g. a tournament or the stream of an especially beloved gamer but were only able to tune in late. This is where YouTube has now basically become modern television.
For anyone conversant in the YouTube world, it seems obvious that there will be some improvements and major changes on the way (I somehow cannot believe that annotations will stay away, and since the creator profiles are optimised for good ol? YouTube rather than YT: Gaming they tend to look a bit ugly, which is something that surely will be changed soon).
For now, it?s pretty exciting, but besides the ease of searches and livestreams still seems there is lot still to do to make it a true gaming behemouth (and useful platform).
I am curious to see how things will have progressed in about a year?s time!