Dropping upwards of $60 on a new game can really break the bank, and being a struggling college student leaves me having to decide whether to pick up the latest title or, you know, eat. But often my more primitive urges win out, meaning the only way to enjoy the latest and greatest games are vicariously, using increasingly-popular live streams.
Up until recently, Twitch was the only viable solution for live-streaming games, due to its great development team and a community that isn't the troll-infested cesspool you usually find online. However, monopolies don't last forever, with other sites like Dailymotion offering slight competition. But nothing has shaken Twitch's reign at the top more than the launch of YouTube Gaming, Google's answer to an ever-growing platform.
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YouTube Gaming is the first big name rival that can actually stand up to the juggernaut that is Twitch, so if you are wondering whether you should switch or stay loyal to your roots, I have thrown together a quick rundown on what you should expect from each service as a viewer and as a streamer.
Since we're living in the golden age of mobile entertainment, I'll start by covering both the Twitch and YouTube Gaming apps, which for the most part aren't all that different. Both apps have similar sections which include the top and trending games being streamed as well as a search field to find unfeatured titles. You also have a user profile pane to manage your subscriptions and check for any updates from your favorite streamers.
Both apps also offer Chromecast support, so you don't have to worry about missing any of the action by being locked into your puny smartphone screen. However, YouTube Gaming does offer a better live-streaming experience since their 1080p, 60fps live streams suffer from much less buffering compared to those running on Twitch. And trust me, having that extra bump in quality can make the feed look extra crisp and make you feel like you have the game running on your own home console.
However, you should know that popular tournament games like Riot's League of Legends and Valve's Counter-Strike have not made any plans to switch their platforms or simulcast, so for now, you may want to keep the Twitch app installed if you follow those titles.
Since YouTube Gaming is still in its infancy and we only have YouTube's track record with regular videos to go on, take a wait-and-see approach when making your final decision on which service to stick with for streaming.
As of right now, YouTube Gaming is pretty locked down. You don't get any of the third-party app integration or extensive profile customization that content providers have come to love with Twitch. There is also the 200-subscriber threshold that YouTube requires in order to brand your page, which will be an issue for new streamers who are starting from scratch.
However, those two gripes are nothing compared to Content ID sweeps. For those of you who have never heard of it, Content ID is an API YouTube has implemented that allows major content providers to submit copies of their trademarked material that YouTube's filter system uses to scan uploaded videos.
If there is a match, your content will probably be taken down immediately and without warning, which has caused a huge uproar in the YouTube community. This is most notable with Nintendo games, since they require streamers to become official partners before allowing them to do any sort of gameplay videos.
This doesn't mean that Twitch is perfect though. For starters, they only allow streamers in their partnership program to live stream at true 1080p, 60fps quality. And if you have a partnership contract with them, you may not even be able to get a chance to test out YouTube Gaming due to contract limitations.
At the end of the day, you have to go with what you prefer in a streaming service. As a viewer, if you are looking for higher quality streams with less lag, then YouTube Gaming is the way to go. But if you are into live streams for competitive gaming, then you should definitely stick with Twitch for the time being.
On the other hand, if you are a streamer and are looking for a new platform, then I'd say go with YouTube Gaming since it's new and you have a better chance at being noticed than if you were to start a new channel on Twitch. But again, as with anything new, there may be bugs, so if you're looking for a tried-and-true streaming service that offers a great community and team behind it, Twitch is where it's at.