YouTube has always been big into gaming. With 77 million subscribers, gaming is the second most popular destination only beaten by the music channel’s 91 million. And the numbers for gaming wipe the floor with other interest channels on the Google-owned site.
YouTube’s video bloggers (Vloggers) also birthed the term “YouTubers” and these include the biggest names in gaming content creation like StampyLongHead, JackSepticEye and PewDiePie. The latter has already made mazillions from his YouTube channel and his gaming videos hit an unbelievable 10 billion views last week while no one outside gaming knows who he is. And according to my kids at least, “YouTubing” is now a viable vocation – looking forward to the awkward moment that comes up at their school’s career development evenings…Would y’all like some fries with that?
Google knows a thing or two about monetised ad revenue but YouTube barely scrapes a profit while its users get rich. Just look at the header from The Wall Street Journal earlier this year:YouTube: 1 Billion Viewers, No Profit. Consequently, something had to give and it was eSports gaming and live-streaming services – specifically Twitch- that changed the game for Google.
Amazon bought Twitch last year for almost a billion dollars and it has gone from strength-to-strength. A report by SuperData Research reckoned Twitch has already cornered 43 per cent of the global online gaming market. Twitch also took more revenue share despite having a smaller audience than YouTube because hardcore gamers are also dedicated purchasers. They are more willing to donate funds and purchase subscriptions. And while Twitch makes a fortune from a plethora of revenue streams, advertising remains its biggest.
So it was no surprise when Google announced YouTube would launch a dedicated gaming portal to roll out in mature, core gaming markets like the US and UK first. And YouTube released itsgaming channel at the tail-end of August to capture the hearts, minds, and, of course, dollars of gamers, and advertisers.
How well will it do? Well, the live-streaming interface is front and centre and Google has the financial clout and incentive to make this work. It also has enough brand equity with publishers, developers and advertisers to get them to sign up for revenue deals. More importantly, it already has a built-in audience of gamers it could convert into a bigger slice of PewDiePie. That all depends on whether Google can build a sustainable eco-system complemented by quality gaming content. Watch his space and let battle commence.