Over 13 years ago, the birth of YouTube had introduced the internet to an assortment of low-quality, homemade videos. Nowadays, the site is among the most wide-reaching and successful social media platforms on the internet, housing anywhere from breaking news stories to DIY crafting. The gaming atmosphere didn't penetrate YouTube's inner circle until the introduction of Blame Truth. All he did was upload videos of himself playing Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and added his voice over the footage, giving general direction on how best to play the game. Another well-known early gaming YouTuber was xcalizorz, who ignored the commentary aspect and decided instead to showcase himself playing 55 levels of the same game, calling it "Road to Commander." They may not have been the best videos (YouTube surely had worse at the time), but it opened up a new medium for gamer expressionism. A whole new frontier had been unearthed, a place for opinions to be digested, where tips could be explained in great detail and, most importantly, where gameplay could be shared and viewed in a collective environment.
By the time it was 2011, amidst the world-wide hype of Black Ops, YouTube had become a gamer's haven for playthroughs, experienced tips, and more. This is where both streaming and Esports grew into the powerhouses they are today. This advent of streaming came about with an online competitive team-based match between the best names on YouTube, such as OpTic, EnVyUs, and Strictly Business. As these two worlds collided on YouTube, it became clear to content creators that there was a massive market for this: being you. It was all about showcasing your talents, being comical, all while playing the games you love. Commentary gameplay came back, but competitive multiplayer streaming was a new force to be reckoned with.
Newer faces started popping up as games like Modern Warfare and Black Ops fell to the names of indie titles played by the likes of PewDiePie and SeaNanners. Simplicity was the name of the game back then, adding their own style and creativity to videos they streamed playing games with their friends. It was a whole new environment, a blend of competitive gaming with simple raucous fun. It was a time distanced from issues of copyright abuse and demonetization. Markiplier was yet another well-known YouTuber who took the platform and ran with it. He now has a subscriber base of 24 million with a total of 11.4 billion views on his channel. Both creativity and competitive gameplay grew the gaming YouTube space into what it is today—or, should I say, what it was yesterday?
Both Modern Warfare and Black Ops saw their fair share of fame until dropping off into oblivion. They may still be considered as among the best first-person shooters, but who are still playing the original Black Ops, let alone watching someone play it? Two years ago, one major question was asked on Reddit: Why are popular YouTube channels dying? It was a real concern, as the fads of yesterday's gaming became old news, and the rise of Twitch streaming paved the way for the future. By 2013 alone, Twitch had amassed 45 million users. The war for the title of best video game streaming platform was only just beginning, and yet YouTube seemed to have already lost.
Twitch wasn't the only platform hurting YouTube, it was hurting itself tremendously. With controversy after controversy, YouTube slowly dwindled in popularity. Pewdiepie's numerous and egregious missteps are well-known, but does anyone remember Sam Pepper? In 2015, Sam filmed a video in which she kidnapped Vine star Colby Brock and his friend, Sam Goldbach. Though it was a prank, or "social experiment" as Pepper called it (Colby knew about the kidnapping, but Goldbach did not), the incident only fanned the flames for mass YouTube hate. Logan Paul's well-known atrocities of filming a dead body in Japan's Aokigahora with a monetized apology video created the biggest stir. YouTube's monetization guidelines were even affected by this and were drastically overhauled. Between 2016 and 2018, YouTube was in a grey wasteland, facing anger from both viewers and YouTubers themselves.
Is YouTube a viable option for streaming nowadays? Well, with Ninja dashing off to Mixer and YouTube copyright concerns only worsening, it's safe to say YouTube's days are numbered. At least, as far as the gaming sector is concerned. There's a vast difference in how users on one platform operate as opposed to others. While Twitch may very well be the most popular streaming site, YouTube saw 22,000 people stream video content in January. According to the data:
"The numbers for PUBG Mobile are also interesting, with over two-and-a-half times as many streamers on YouTube compared to Twitch (949 vs. 345)."
Mobile game streaming is apparently still a big hit on the platform, though it's unclear if this will fix their loose foothold in the industry.
It's a tough, cruel world. YouTube and Twitch streaming isn't easy. Burnout is a real thing, and it even plagued the streaming community for a while. It's disheartening to see an activity like gaming become awash in strife. These games were meant to be fun, not abused. While the advent of these platforms may have helped drive the popularity of gaming through the roof, it also opened the industry up to a whole new world of connectivity and communication. I do think YouTube's days are numbered, but I don't think gaming itself will ever die off from the site. There's still plenty of noteworthy news outlets and viable info-filled channels on gaming just waiting for you to explore.
But streaming? That's Twitch's thing, now.