Twitch may be the top streaming dog when it comes to gaming, but YouTube’s solution is quickly becoming a popular alternative. Following the platform’s launch in August, the service has added several new features that put it on a par with—and in some cases beyond—Twitch, making it an enticing place to play games, particularly for channels that are already established in the Let’s Play community.
The first major addition is a subscription feature, which is a lot like Twitch’s partnership program. But instead of charging $4.99 per month, YouTube has undercut that price at $3.99 per month. If viewers do decide to pay that monthly fee, they’ll get perks like a special chat badge, access to private live chats, and more. Viewers can also provide streamers with a one-time gift, so donations are obviously encouraged.
It isn’t entirely clear if all YouTube Gaming channels can offer subscriptions, or only if you have a certain audience size and engagement, which is how Twitch decides who gets to partner. For now, only a small group of beta testers have access to the feature, though YouTube said it will be “continuously expanding” the offer to others in the future.
The update also allows anyone with an Android phone to stream through YouTube Gaming, which players of games such as Hearthstone will certainly appreciate. For now, only Android gamers can get in on the action, though I’d guess Google will open the feature up to iOS at some point down the road.
Will these features be enough to put a dent in Twitch’s streaming dominance? Only time will tell. Google said people have already watched 144 billion minutes of recorded gaming videos and live streams on YouTube, which is a nice way to start. We actually did a stream the other day for Star Wars Battlefront, and it was a pretty killer experience. You can watch that archived stream down below.