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YouTube's assault on Twitch starts today

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A 12-hour live stream marathon at E3 will include exclusive demos, interviews, and commentary from YouTube's gaming stars

It's Day 0 of E3 2015. This is the time when all the giants of popular gaming make their big announcements, competing for your attention and future gaming dollars. Today is also a big day for YouTube, which doesn't make games, but will soon be introducing a dedicated YouTube Gaming service. It too will be competing for the attention of millions.

The goals of YouTube Gaming are as grand as YouTube itself. Google wants its new website and app to become "the biggest community of gamers on the web" and the destination for live-streamed game video, whether it comes from professional tournaments or amateurs playing just for fun. If that sounds exactly like Twitch, that's because it is. Having lost out to Amazon in the pursuit to acquire Twitch last summer, Google has spent the past year building up its own alternative, and that's what we have to look forward to in the coming weeks.

There'll be more ways to watch E3 live than ever

The clash between YouTube Gaming and Twitch gets an early preview today. Google has set up a shiny new E3 hub over at youtube.com/e3, which will play host to "a 12-hour live stream marathon" filled with interviews, commentary, and exclusive demos of the newly announced games. Well-known YouTube gamers and more conventional celebrities will offer their reactions to the news as it happens, and the big press conferences will also be broadcast live.

Twitch is already up and running on the streaming front, having hosted the Nintendo World Championships and Bethesda's first ever E3 showcase, and it is also the official streaming partner of E3. Just like YouTube, Twitch is investing in generating its own content, with a dedicated stage on the E3 show floor populated by some of Twitch's star broadcasters and an exclusive PC Gaming Show event stream scheduled for Tuesday.

YouTube has tried producing live events before, and they've been comically bad

E3 presents a great opportunity for YouTube to assert itself as a legitimate competitor to Twitch, because it's a one-off event. Twitch is still the game streaming capital of the web and commands an audience of tens of millions, but YouTube can claim a significant share of that group for a brief period of time by having more interesting and compelling E3 content. Tony Hawk, Felicia Day, Xbox chief Phil Spencer, and Oculus founder Palmer Luckey will all be dropping by to chat with YouTube host Geoff Keighley. It's enough if you find just one of those names appealing: the point is to present YouTube as a credible source of live gaming content, whether it be news, interviews, gameplay, or whatever else. That being said, YouTube has tried producing live events before, and they've been comically bad, so Google will have to improve the way it executes what are otherwise sensible plans.

The excitement surrounding E3 is simply a concentrated, one-week dose of the passion that video games are enveloped in year round. Capturing even a snippet of it now will stand YouTube and YouTube Gaming in good stead for the future. And although the E3 schedule pits YouTube and Twitch as direct competitors covering the same events and fighting for the same audience, the primary business of streaming pseudo-amateur, personality-based content should be big enough for them to coexist in relative harmony. If the gaming world is big enough to have both Dota 2 and League of Legends, then it's big enough to have both Twitch and YouTube Gaming.