Youtube, on Thursday, said it will start creating metaverse experiences on its video platform, starting with gaming. The world’s largest video site, owned by Alphabet Inc.’s Google, has forayed into virtual-reality videos in 2016. Google released its VR platform Cardboard in 2014 and a much-hyped augmented reality device, Google Glass, in 2013.
“We’ll work to bring more interactions to games and make them feel more alive,” Neal Mohan, YouTube’s chief product officer, said Thursday in a blog post. “It’s still early days, but we’re excited to see how we can turn these virtual worlds into a reality for viewers.”
The video platform has been slower to catch up with rivals on the much-discussed and hyped metaverse plans — an immersive digital world where users will interact with digital objects and one another. It may be noted that Facebook has changed its corporate name to Meta Platforms Inc., signaling an existential commitment to the metaverse. Microsoft Corp. has earlier announced bringing the virtual world to its workplace collaboration software Microsoft Teams.
Some of YouTube’s most popular creators specialize in video game streaming. Game streaming on YouTube grew multifold in the past 24 months. YouTube has also signed several broadcasters from rival Twitch. In November, Google on-boarded full-time streamer Ludwig Ahgren on an exclusivity deal with YouTube Gaming. Ludwig is one of Twitch’s most popular streamers. Last month, YouTube’s head of gaming, Ryan Wyatt, departed for a crypto startup.
“Finally, we couldn’t have a piece about innovation without touching on the metaverse! We’re thinking big about how to make viewing more immersive. The first area in which you can expect to see an impact is gaming, where we’ll work to bring more interactions to games and make them feel more alive. It’s still early days, but we’re excited to see how we can turn these virtual worlds into a reality for viewers,” the Facebook executive said. The video platform said it is working on providing a verifiable way for fans to own unique videos, photos, art, and even experiences from their favorite creators.
In the blog post, Mohan also said YouTube would continue investing in Shorts, its rival to ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok, by adding new video effects and tools, as well as the ability to shop from one of the quick videos. YouTube Shorts have now enjoyed over 5T all-time views. People watch more than 700 million hours of YouTube content on their televisions a day, making it the company’s fastest-growing screen. Now, Mohan said the company would soon let viewers use their phones to engage with content playing on their TVs. The video platform will soon be unveiling a new way for viewers to use their phones while they watch YouTube on their TV to read or leave comments and share videos with a friend.
The video platform said it is still trying to “improve” its comment section, the executive added. The company will let video creators set channel guidelines to control the tone of conversations, which have sometimes been vitriolic in recent times. The site will also give its creators more insight into the types of videos viewers want to see, to help them decide what to produce next.
YouTube last month announced the name of 135 creators who will take part in the #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund, including a slate of 40 in the US and Canada. The fund announced in 2019 provides one year of support, including seed funding for channels, development programs, workshops, and networking opportunities. “Black creators have played an important role in shaping the culture on YouTube. From fashion and comedy to politics, learning and wellness, Black creators have propelled our platform forward,” the company said in the announcement.