YouTube is making it easier for people to record themselves playing every mobile game that has them hooked.
People watch 144 billion minutes, or nearly 274,000 years, worth of footage depicting people playing video games on YouTube every month, according to data from Google's massive video site. Put another way, if the first Neanderthals sat in a cave and only watched video games on YouTube all day and night, they might be caught up with the globe's monthly viewing right about now.
The San Bruno, California-based video site updated its YouTube Gaming mobile app Thursday so that anyone can record and live-stream mobile gameplay from devices running Google's Android operating system, the most common mobile OS in the world. Called Mobile Capture, the feature lets gamers tap a "Go Live" button in the YouTube Gaming app to start recording themselves with their phone's "selfie" camera and microphone.
Mobile games are extraordinarily popular among mainstream consumers, with games routinely the most downloaded category of apps in yearly rankings from data cruncher App Annie. YouTube's biggest channel features a gamer. Felix Kjellberg, a Swede known as PewDiePie, has 39.8 million subscribers and made $12 million pretax over the past year, according to an estimate by Forbes.
YouTube Gaming's update peels away a layer of tech savvy needed to become a video game streamer like Kjellberg. This means more people can try broadcasting, and it's more likely you'll come across a gaming clip that appeals to you.
"The one thing that YouTube is all about is empowering people to broadcast and share," said Ryan Wyatt, YouTube's head of gaming content and partnerships. "This gives you the accessibility of any game."
Twitch, YouTube's main competitor in the gameplay video world, made a first step in the same direction last year. The company released a kit for game developers to help them add this kind of mobile broadcasting to their own games. However, support is on a game-by-game basis. The YouTube Gaming feature blankets every game you can play on an Android device and requires no extra work on the part of a game maker.
Last year, people watched Twitch video for about 16 billion minutes per month. Though Twitch's figure has grown over the last 10 months, YouTube's 144 billion minutes dwarf the smaller rival's stats from 2014.
YouTube took a page out of Twitch's book with another addition to the app update: sponsorships. A handful of gaming channels will begin to offer $3.99 monthly sponsorships, which let fans pay their favorite creators and unlock perks like a badge next to their name in a video's live-chat window and access to exclusive chat sessions.
In addition to the Android app, YouTube Gaming also comes in an iOS version. The Mobile Capture feature is limited to Android devices for now, a YouTube spokeswoman said, but the company would explore expanding it.