Twitch may be the biggest name in video game streaming right now, but YouTube is working to improve its service and compete with the company it reportedly tried to acquire last year. YouTube can now host live streams running at 60 frames per second, considered the standard for video gaming. The high-quality streams will work in any browser that supports HTML5, and streams will be automatically scaled back to the regular 30 frames per second for any viewers whose devices don’t support it.
YouTube already introduced support for HD videos played at 60 frames per second back in 2014, and in March even hosted a few ultra-high-definition 4K videos playing at the higher framerate (although the sheer amount of data being transmitted was, and still is, enough to overwhelm all but the hardiest computers). Now that the faster framerate is available for livestreams, too, video gamers may consider YouTube a more attractive home for hosting streams.
Many gamer celebrities and companies run popular live streams on Twitch, and streams for games such as League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Dota 2 can pull in thousands of viewers at a time. YouTube nearly acquired Twitch last summer, but the streaming start-up ultimately sold to Amazon for $970 million in August. Since then, live streaming of video games has grown so popular that consoles such as Microsoft’s Xbox One are gaining the ability to streamp.
YouTube is also introducing a feature that will allow viewers to rewind a live event, then speed up the stream to catch back up with what’s going on live. This would be a handy feature for e-sports fans who want to get up to make a snack, but want to make sure they don’t miss anything in the interim.
YouTube noted in its announcement that 60 frames per second playback isn’t just for gaming: it will also make live streams of sports or outdoor activities look smoother. You’ll need a fast Internet connection to be able to take advantage of the higher framerate, too, since YouTube will be transmitting 60 frames of high-definition video (1,920 pixels wide by 1,080 pixels tall) each second. That said, viewers whose systems are hardy enough, and who prefer to watch streams in full-screen mode where the higher resolution will be apparent, will appreciate being able to watch games played in high quality.