In this article, we’ll be discussing the two titans in game streaming: Twitch and YouTube Gaming. In this showdown between Twitch vs YouTube Gaming, we’ll be doing our best to highlight the pros and cons of both platforms for streamers worldwide.
Let’s dive right into it.
Twitch vs YouTube Gaming: Introducing The Competitors
Twitch, or Twitch.tv, started as an offshoot of the lesser-known Justin.tv, a general streaming service. Twitch was focused on game-streaming and quickly took off, resulting in the eventual closing of Justin.tv in favor of full focus on Twitch, is now beginning to expand to cover live non-gaming events, art and more.
Twitch’s massive popularity soon meant that two titans sought to purchase it Google and Amazon. While Google was long rumored to be the one to do the job, Amazon is ultimately the one who won out. Twitch enjoys a monthly audience of over 100 million unique users and over 2.1 million broadcasters, despite being founded only five years ago. In short, it latched onto a craze nobody knew existed: the desire to watch people play video games in real-time.
Gaming has always been big on YouTube, and as the children who were raised on gaming and technology began to enter the video-watching market, YouTube became the biggest place in online video. Unfortunately, despite their launch of a streaming platform, they weren’t able to keep up with the growth of Twitch, and by the time YouTube Gaming launched Twitch has already become the great incumbent in the field. (That had to be a bitter irony to swallow.)
Despite this, YouTube Gaming has enjoyed moderate success. In fact, there’s many ways it’s better than Twitch…and many ways it’s worse. The two are true competitors on all terms- and even though Twitch is winning the fight in terms of sheer audience numbers, YouTube Gaming is nothing to sneeze at, either.
Twitch vs YouTube Gaming: UI and Usability
- Twitch’s UI is simple and works well. All your options and site-browsing features are on the left side of the screen, allowing the stream itself to take front-and-center, functions related to that stream (Following and Subscribing) beneath it, and chat in its own dedicated side of the screen to the right.
- However, it has a few downsides: namely, choosing video quality uses infuriatingly vague terms such as “Medium”, “Mobile” and “Source”- all of which can vary in actual quality depending on the streamer’s specific settings and setup.
- Additionally, DVR features- pausing and rewinding- are absent. If you missed something in the stream, you’ll have to wait for the stream recording to upload an hour or so later.
- YTG also enjoys a simple UI, but YTG’s interface takes up slightly more space and generally has a lot more clutter on display, due to the fact it also has a goal of advertising the streamer’s main YouTube channel. The two are about even in terms of design and pure usability, though.
- That being said, YTG handles video quality much more intuitively. It handles it the same way YouTube does- offering real-world resolutions (480p, 1080p, etc) for a user to choose from that don’t vary in quality depending on the streamer. This allows users to get a consistent viewing experience based on what their connections can handle.
- Thanks to the YouTube backend, YTG also enjoys DVR features. One can pause a stream and start right back where they left off, and can rewind to a previous point in a stream at any time. YTG gets major points over Twitch in this regard.
Winner: YouTube Gaming
Twitch vs YouTube Gaming: Revenue
- Like YouTube, Twitch supports an advertising partner system. The barrier of entry, however, is typically higher. Ad revenue varies greatly, too, but is somewhat on-par with YouTube’s in most cases.
- Twitch users enjoy regular donations and subscriptions from their followers. A Subscription pays $2.50 to Twitch and to the individual streamer per month, with many sponsorship deals doubling on each subscription to help the streamer make more money. The average Twitch user donates at least $5 per month. Due to how averages work, this means while many users don’t donate at all, there’s many who donate hundreds, or even thousands of dollars to streamers on a regular basis.
- The overall revenue of streamers on Twitch is higher than that of YTG.
- YTG is a part of YouTube, and therefore uses its partner program and advertising model. This program has a low barrier of entry for people to participate in, however- useful for people with small channels or small followings.
- YTG also offers donations, but in general Twitch users get more regular donations at higher amounts.
- The overall revenue of streamers on YTG is lower than that of Twitch, though this could change as the platform grows.
Winner: Twitch.tv (For now?)
Twitch vs YouTube Gaming: Chat and Moderation
- Twitch chat is an iconic centerfold of the platform. Subscribing to a channel grants you access to their emotes, which can then be used in other channels as a badge of pride.
- Additionally, Twitch chat offers far better moderation tools, and even bots like NightBot. This means that chat is more easily controlled on Twitch, and also significantly more interactive.
- Higher audience interaction = better audience retention.
- YouTube Gaming offers little in the way of moderation features or special incentives.
- This is a great limiting factor, and means that Twitch chat easily wins this fight.
Twitch vs YouTube Gaming: Audience
- The general audience of Twitch is massively larger than that of YTG. Far more people use Twitch than use YTG, and this shows during major events like The International.
- However, Twitch isn’t quite as good as YouTube at alerting followers when a streamer starts streaming. Email notifications do exist, but YTG allows a streamer to utilize their YouTube channel. More on that in a bit.
- The general audience of YTG is significantly smaller than that of YTG.
- That being said, YTG is amazing at reaching pre-existing followers. People regularly check and browse YouTube when they’re bored, and whenever someone is streaming on YTG, all of their subscribers are notified that they’re live through their phones and subscription feeds.
Winner: Mixed. Depends on your needs as a creator- more on that later.
Twitch vs YouTube Gaming: Conclusion
Alas, it’s time to end the battle of Twitch vs YouTube Gaming, at least for this article.
With Twitch vs YTG, which platform comes out on top overall?
The answer is…!
It depends. If you’re trying to grow your following across Twitch and YouTube alike, Twitch is by far the better choice, because it offers you access to a much larger general audience. While you won’t be able to enjoy ad revenue in the earliest state of your Twitch channel, you will grow far better through Twitch than you would through YouTube Gaming.
YouTube Gaming, meanwhile, is far better for engaging with the audience you already have through your YouTube subscribers. While its chat is nowhere near as versatile, it’s much easier to get a YouTube subscriber than a Twitch follower onto a stream, thanks to YouTube’s ubiquity.
So, who wins really depends on your size and your goals with live-streaming. Even once you’re big and want to regularly interact with your audience, using a platform like restream.io will allow you to stream to both Twitch and YouTube Gaming simultaneously. You don’t always have to choose!
Ultimately, I don’t see a clear-cut winner in this battle. Not yet. Here at Grin, we’re dedicated to offering creators- whether you’re on YouTube or Twitch- with the tools they need to grow. We do this through our Grin Platform, where you can buy and sell services from other creators, and our Blog, where you can read more informative posts like this one.