YouTube Gaming launch poses challenge to Twitch
YouTube quietly launched its spin-off platform for video gamers on Wednesday evening.
YouTube Gaming is a dedicated app and website focusing exclusively on gaming content, with a greater emphasis on live steams.
The video sharing giant told the BBC it wanted tackle a "fragmented" experience for the gaming genre.
One expert said YouTube was "fighting back" against rivals such as Twitch and Daily Motion.
Billions of hours
Gaming videos are a big draw for YouTube and the company said its visitors spent billions of hours watching them every month. YouTube's most-followed star Felix Kjellberg, known as PewDiePie, is a gamer too.
"We wanted to create a one-stop shop for all gaming content," YouTube's head of gaming Ryan Wyatt told the BBC.
"At the moment there is a fragmented experience. People go to different places for live content, and YouTube for video on demand.
"We have amazing gamers that don't live stream yet. Now they have that opportunity."
YouTube has been facing competition from services such as Amazon-owned Twitch, which has become the go-to platform for gamers who want to broadcast live.
Hundreds of thousands of people visit Twitch daily to watch live steams of other people playing video games.
YouTube said it had redeveloped its live streaming function for its gaming app, but confirmed that live broadcasts would be subject to its standard copyright checks.
The company's Content ID system will terminate broadcasts if "third-party content" such as music is detected, a feature absent on Twitch.
"There is tension that has arisen over copyright claims on YouTube," said Steve Bailey, games analyst at IHS Technology.
"But some game developers see YouTube as a positive PR opportunity and embrace it. Those that have been very defensive have received bad press."
"We're not treating gaming any differently on YouTube. The app is a lens for gaming content, the key thing is discoverability," said YouTube's Mr Wyatt.
"This is a way to focus on gaming videos, aggregate them, but YouTube doesn't change. You can still watch gaming videos on YouTube."
Mr Wyatt said the new live streaming platform could have wider uses in the future.
"We created a live platform that will benefit all of YouTube," he said. "I can picture sports, beauty tutorials, live cooking streams."
Gaming is not the first topic to get a specialist offering from YouTube. The site is trialling a music service called Music Key, and has also launched a curated app for children in the US.
"Gaming is a specialist topic but YouTube is a generalist outlet," he said. "Establishing a new platform means it can skew the features to better suit gamers," said Mr Bailey.
"Competitors such as Daily Motion and Twitch will continue to emerge and YouTube has to keep up."