YouTube has gone live today with its latest feature, which is a special subsite known as YouTube Gaming and found at http://gaming.youtube.com. Although it was not explicitly stated by YouTube, this was widely interpreted in the tech industry as a direct response to the popularity of game streaming service Twitch, which has been owned by Amazon.com as of September last year.
Twitch has been a major force in the budding eSports industry and digital gaming in general since it launched in 2011. It has also become the latest rage in poker ever since it changed its terms of service this spring to allow the streaming of real-money gambling. Jason Sommerville led the charge and has subsequently been taken on by PokerStars as a Team PokerStars pro and online streaming ambassador.
The biggest question about YouTube’s new service, therefore, is whether it intends to compete with Twitch for online poker streaming, as well as more conventional video gaming. The short answer is “no.”
The new YouTube Gaming service is more or less just a skin for existing YouTube content with a filter to exclude everything which is not a “video game.” We’ve confirmed with a source at YouTube that poker – even online poker – does not meet their definition of a “video game” and will therefore not be available through YouTube Gaming.
Poker is not the only game which does not meet YouTube’s criteria; Twitch has likewise become popular for the streaming of digital adaptations of board and card games, which will also be excluded from YouTube Gaming. This could be interesting in the long term if YouTube manages to outcompete Twitch for the video game and eSports market due to its narrower focus, which could in turn lead Twitch to move in the opposite direction, and focus more heavily on those offerings which are not available through YouTube Gaming, including poker.
Alex Weldon (@benefactumgames) is a freelance writer, game designer and semipro poker player from Montreal, Quebec, Canada.