Google may not have won the bidding battle for Twitch, but that doesn’t mean it’s abandoning its game streaming ambitions. On Thursday, YouTube announced support for livestreaming at 60 frames per second at 720p and 1080p resolutions, meaning that silky smooth gameplay will remain silky smooth after traveling across the streaming giant’s servers.
The 60fps livestreams are only supported in YouTube’s HTML5 player, and requiring that technology—rather than Flash, which Twitch uses and YouTube falls back on—allows watchers to view previously recorded portions of the stream at 1.5x or 2x speed if they desire. If your PC or mobile device can’t keep pace at 60fps, YouTube will knock the stream down to 30fps rather than barring you from the action.
Of course, the new capabilities do no good if there isn’t streaming software that can push all those frames per second. Don’t worry, Google’s thought of that.
“We know high frame rates are especially important for gaming streams, so we’ve worked with Elgato and XSplit on new versions of Elgato Game Capture, XSplit Broadcaster, and XSplit Gamecaster that support 60fps live streaming to YouTube, available for download starting today,” product manager Alan Joyce wrote in the blog post announcing the new livestreaming features. “In addition, any app using our live streaming API can add a new high frame rate flag to enable 60fps streaming.”
You can already find livestreams broadcasting at 60fps on YouTube, though there's no visual indicator on the livestream hub page itself to indicate when a video's streaming at that rate. Hint: Look for PC games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
The story behind the story: YouTube’s slowly been building towards this capability for months now. The site first introduced 60fps support for video uploads last October, while all YouTube videos began defaulting to HTML5 rather than Flash early this year. Perhaps not-so-coincidentally, the ball started rolling shortly Amazon’s $970 million Twitch acquisition was confirmed last August. In the words of Mortal Kombat X, one of the top games being streamed on Twitch right now: Round one—fight!