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YouTube launches new gaming destination, admits that the separate app was a bust

YouTube launches new gaming destination, admits that the separate app was a bust


YouTube Gaming will be a part of the main experience now

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Illustration by William Joel / The Verge

In 2015, YouTube launched a separate app dedicated to games and helping gamers find more videos. Today, the video giant is sunsetting that app and will integrate many of its best ideas onto the main website instead.

On the main site, YouTube Gaming will appear as a tab on the left, just like the Trending destination. From now on, will showcase a personalized carousel of content near the top of the page, including new uploads and livestreams from subscribed channels, as well as an area for trending videos.

The new landing page will have some additional bells and whistles, too. Games will now also have their own pages, each of which will highlight popular videos, live streams, and other games created by the developer and publisher in question. Users can subscribe to these games pages individually.

In an effort to improve discoverability on the platform, YouTube Gaming will highlight smaller creators who make good content, deeming them to be “On The Rise.” These curated picks will change every week, but will only be available to the US to start. Curiously, the staggered launch is happening because the system relies on both algorithmic and human curation, and scaling that model will take some time. (YouTube did not provide further details on how the algorithm portion of the system works.)

“There was also confusion with the YouTube gaming app.”

While YouTube has 200 million daily users who view gaming content overall, most of these people weren’t using the dedicated app to do it. “There was confusion with the YouTube gaming app,” Ryan Wyatt, YouTube’s director of gaming content and partnerships, tells The Verge. People didn’t know what the app was for, or what type of content it was meant to serve.

Worse, while an engineering team was dedicated to creating new features for gamers specific to the platform, the lack of adoption rate among users meant that those features, like dark theme and channel memberships, weren’t being used as much as they could have been. The hope is that, by shifting these features to the main site, gamers will actually use the tools that YouTube builds.

“When we launched the YouTube gaming app, I think there was a lot of brand confusion in the market of like, ‘Well, is this just a live gaming app and experience? What’s gonna happen to gaming on YouTube versus YouTube gaming app?’” Wyatt says. “And so we’re hoping that this time around, with us moving it to YouTube [proper], it’s a clear signal to the community that we care very much about gaming, that we want gaming on YouTube ... to continue to thrive and be a big part. I think we had a big misstep and confusion there.”