AH YouTube Gaming-4

AH Primetime: Hands On With YouTube Gaming

August 26, 2015 - Written By Justin Diaz

Google’s highly anticipated YouTube Gaming service is officially running at full bore, having launched the Android app earlier this morning while the website went live a little later in the afternoon. With all eyes now on YouTube Gaming and how it might perform differently from Twitch, viewers, as well as potential streamers interested in the platform are likely wondering if it may be beneficial to give it a shot. If this is the first you’re hearing of YouTube Gaming, there’s no shame in that. It’s relatively new and unless you’re extremely invested timewise into the nature of live streaming games, it could be perceived as an easy thing to miss.

While Twitch is arguably a larger entity in this space at the moment, YouTube Gaming brings a certain level of uniqueness that may eventually surpass them, and could snag the love of viewers if not streamers too. One area where Twitch might have an edge though is with its new pop-out player that lets you open up the stream in a new, smaller window so you can still watch while doing other stuff. Much like Twitch it offers up both recorded video and live streams of games from various genres and platforms including PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. You can search for videos or streams based on the game, or by channels whether you subscribe to them or not, and you can easily import gaming related channels from the regular YouTube that you already subscribe to so you don’t have to resubscribe, making the whole process rather simple.

Gaming here is front and center, and offers up much of the same you’ll find over on Twitch including a chat board off to the side of the stream window where you can post messages and converse with other viewers. Whether or not you actually enjoy engaging with these chats is irrelevant because you can simply open the window full screen and avoid seeing it if you find it distracting or click on the “details” or “suggested” tabs to hide the chat window from view. What’s nice about YouTube gaming is the initial window for the videos is larger than it is on Twitch without having to expand things to full screen, so if you need to quickly switch to a different tab to look at something else on the web there’s no issue here.

It’s not hard to see that YouTube Gaming’s layout is also more visually appealing than Twitch, as it’s laden with material design aspects throughout the UI like sliding out menus similar to the hamburger menu you can find within many Android apps. Users will find it’s extremely easy to navigate around the website, with live streams that are currently happening showing up directly in the center of the webpage, and access to favorited games and channel subscriptions positioned to the very edge of the screen displayed with small thumbnails to denote what they are. These sections are visible, but not so much that they should distract from what’s happening right then and there which is obviously the videos you’re watching.

Hovering your mouse over these areas is what activates the slide out menus and allows you to interact with them and select what you want, making things feel nice and crisp and rather fluid. When it comes to the Android app, things feel much the same and although the UI looks a little better on the web, the Android app still looks quite nice and takes on material design as well yet more closely resembles the YouTube app, where the official YouTube and YouTube Gaming web pages look quite different from each other. Everything is set to make watching streams or using the service easy, even going live if you like to stream yourself playing games is simple with a “Go Live” tag in the top right corner of the screen next to your account picture, of course you can’t go live from the Android app which serves as more of an outlet for the viewers than people who are wanting to stream sessions. Speaking of easy, watching things on the big screen is easy too, as the Android app supports Chromecast, so if you’d rather enjoy that heated live League of Legends match on your television instead of your phone, just tap the cast button and fling it to the larger screen. If you even remotely enjoy watching game live streams and videos, YouTube Gaming is worth looking into regardless of how you choose to access it.