YouTube heats up rivalry with Twitch with smoother live streams of games

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Gaming has become one of the most popular categories on YouTube thanks to the Let’s Play videos published by creators like PewDiePie, The Diamond Minecart and Stampy.

Now YouTube wants to get more gamers broadcasting live, as it takes on Amazon’s live-streaming service, Twitch. YouTube is adding the ability to stream live video at 60 frames-per-second (fps) – a feature optimised for games in particular.

“When you start a live stream on YouTube at 60fps, we’ll transcode your stream into 720p60 and 1080p60, which means silky smooth playback for gaming and other fast-action videos,” explained product manager Alan Joyce in a blog post.

Initially, the new feature will be available as a preview on HTML5-compatible browsers including Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer and Opera. According to Joyce, YouTube is working to expand high frame-rate viewing onto other devices, which for now will only be able to watch live streams at 30fps.

YouTube is also working with some of the software and hardware companies whose products are used for live game streaming.

“We know high frame rates are especially important for gaming streams, so we’ve worked with Elgato and XSplit on new versions of Elgato Game Capture, XSplit Broadcaster, and XSplit Gamecaster that support 60fps live streaming to YouTube, available for download starting today,” wrote Joyce.

The news follows YouTube’s introduction of non-live 60fps playback in October 2014, which has been used by a number of gaming channels.

YouTube is training its sights on Twitch, which was bought by Amazon for $970m in 2014. That service ended the year with 100 million viewers watching 16bn minutes from 1.5 million unique broadcasters a month.

In March, a report by The Daily Dot claimed YouTube was preparing to relaunch its own live-streaming platform to focus on games and eSports. Parent company Google had been tipped to acquire Twitch for $1bn before Amazon swooped in.

YouTube and Twitch’s competition will not just focus on games, however. Twitch has been moving into music – another of YouTube’s most popular categories. In March, it signed a deal to stream dance event the Ultra Music Festival, while DJ-sets broadcaster Boiler Room has just launched a round-the-clock Twitch channel.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Stuart Dredge, for theguardian.com on Friday 22nd May 2015 10.32 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010