[SAN FRANCISCO] YouTube Gaming on Thursday ramped up its challenge to Amazon-owned Twitch by adding streamed play of mobile games and a new subscription option.
The new application lets people stream from Android-powered gadgets, tapping into cameras to display players' faces in small frames on screens with game play.
"Every day, games are played while waiting for the bus, riding the subway, or lounging on the couch - but what about live streaming your mobile game-play?" YouTube product manager Barbara Macdonald wrote in a blog post.
"Users can now record and live stream mobile game-play on-the-go directly from Android devices using Mobile Capture on YouTube Gaming." It remained to be seen how many people are interested in watching play of casual games that dominate play on smartphones and tablets.
The amount of time spent watching game-related video and live streams of play at YouTube totals more than 144 billion minutes each month, according to the Google-owned service.
YouTube Gaming also improved ways to find and watch videos that might be of interest, or save snippets for later viewing.
The California-based Internet service said it is testing a feature that lets people "sponsor" YouTube Gaming broadcasters they like through monthly subscriptions of US$4 each.
Sponsors are offered benefits such as access to special chat sessions and "badges" that identify them as sponsors in online forums.
Twitch already lets fans subscribe to content creators.
Updated YouTube Gaming applications for Apple and Android powered mobile devices were released on Thursday in Britain and the United States.
The rollout of YouTube Gaming at the end of August marked the public debut of an online venue where video game lovers can find commentary, live play, on-demand snippets and more.
An English-language website at gaming.youtube.com was rolled out in countries where YouTube is available.
The online arena for video game channels incorporates the search smarts of Google, which owns YouTube, to surface fresh or must-see content.
US online retail giant Amazon last year snatched up Twitch and its huge audience for live-streamed gaming.
The acquisition was one of the largest in Amazon's history - US$970 million 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 also sells advertising to generate income.
The takeover 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.