SAN FRANCISCO - YouTube on Friday said it is creating an online arena devoted to video game play, jumping onto a hot "e-sports" trend and challenging Amazon-owned Twitch.
YouTube Gaming will debut in Britain and the United States in the coming months, according to product manager Alan Joyce.
"YouTube Gaming is built to be all about your favourite games and gamers, with more videos than anywhere else," Joyce said in a blog post.
"From 'Asteroids' to 'Zelda,' more than 25,000 games will each have their own page, a single place for all the best videos and live streams about that title." YouTube Gaming will also have channels devoted to specific game publishers or personalities.
A preview of the new YouTube offering, including game content creators such as 'iHasCupquake' and 'NadeShot,' will be showcased at a major Electronic Entertainment Expo extravaganza next week in Los Angeles.
"Live streams bring the gaming community closer together, so they've put them front-and-centre on the YouTube Gaming homepage," Joyce said.
"In the coming weeks, YouTube will launch an improved live experience that makes it simpler to broadcast your game play to YouTube."
Google vs Amazon
The popularity of gaming has given rise to new genres of YouTube videos including watching play, speed-runs, walk-throughs, and even segments on cooking gamer-themed delectables.
Along with the YouTube Gaming website accessible through web browsers, there will be an application for mobile devices.
Leading video game play broadcasting platform Twitch will have a strong presence at E3, with plans to live stream press conferences, demos, interviews and more.
Twitch will augment its English-language broadcast with regionalized shows from partners including Rocket Beans TV in German and Jeuxvideo in French.
US online retail giant Amazon last year bolstered its Internet video presence, whistling past Google to snatch up Twitch and its huge audience for live-streamed gaming.
The acquisition was one of the largest in Amazon's history: $970 million (S$1.3 b) in cash for the three-year-old Internet company.
Twitch Interactive streams games being played for non-playing viewers to watch, and hosts gaming events.
It allows viewers to chat with the players and others, lending it some of the qualities of social networking websites, and it sells advertising to generate income.
YouTube owner Google had reportedly been working out a billion-dollar deal last year to buy Twitch, but backed off due to anti-trust concerns and cleared the way for Amazon to swoop in.
The take-over came with a boom in online viewing of real-time video game or computer game play as "e-sports" attract growing crowds as spectator events.
PlayStation console maker Sony made an alliance with Twitch in 2012 to let gamers broadcast online play live for others to watch, and made the feature one of the selling points of its successful new PlayStation 4 model.
Microsoft also put Twitch capabilities into its new-generation Xbox One console.
Twitch bills itself as the world's largest video game broadcasting network.
Millions of people monthly watch video game play streamed using Twitch, which boasts partners such as the Electronic Sports League, Major League Gaming and IGN Pro League.
San Francisco-based Twitch was created by the founders of live video streaming platform Justin.tv - Justin Kan and Emmett Shear.
TwitchTV launched in 2011 and has made a partnerships to get money-making video and display ads to weave in during breaks in live game play.
Twitch "broadcasters" range from professional gaming leagues to individual players.