YouTube said it will start creating metaverse experiences on its video platform, beginning with gaming, following competitors’ investments in the buzzy category.
“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 world’s largest video site, owned by Alphabet Inc.’s Google, has supported virtual-reality videos since 2016.
Google released its VR platform Cardboard in 2014 and a much-derided augmented reality device, Google Glass, in 2013.
Still, the company has been slower than rivals to discuss its plans for the much-hyped metaverse — an immersive digital world where users will interact with digital objects and one another.
While many are skeptical that the metaverse is much more than a rebranding of VR, others in the tech industry think it will be the next major platform for social media, gaming, digital asset ownership and more.
Google has its own VR/AR division but hasn’t released plans for any device in the field.
Meanwhile Meta Platforms Inc., formerly Facebook, changed its name to signal an existential commitment to the metaverse. Microsoft Corp. has said it’s bringing workplace collaboration software to the virtual world. It may also capitalize on the shift through its gaming properties.
Some of YouTube’s most popular creators specialize in video game streaming. The company has signed away several broadcasters from rival Twitch.
Last month, YouTube’s head of gaming, Ryan Wyatt, departed for a crypto startup.
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.
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.
YouTube 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. The site will also give its creators more insight on the types of videos viewers want to see, to help them decide what to produce next.