As Sony and Microsoft beef up the streaming video selections on their respective video game consoles, Google’s YouTube has been conspicuously absent.
But now, a Google job posting, spotted by Gamasutra, seeks an engineer to “build the next generation game-console-based TV experience with You Tube video content” and “integrate and optimize with distribution channels and devices including all major game platforms.”
In other words, we might someday see a native YouTube app for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and maybe even Nintendo’s Wii.
YouTube already has a couple of websites optimized for the television screen. The first is YouTube XL, which lets you select videos from a sidebar menu and a scrolling list of thumbnails. There’s also YouTube Leanback, a more passive and serendipitous experience that runs a continuous feed of curated playlists. Both sites can be navigated by keyboard and have a simple search-by-text utility.
As it stands, the Playstation 3′s Web browser can access YouTube XL, but not Leanback. (I got the following message when trying to load the latter: ”We’re sorry, PS3 doesn’t support YouTube Leanback yet, but we’re working on it!”) The Wii’s web browser can only access a special Wii-friendly YouTube interface, and the videos are choppy and slow. The Xbox 360 has no Web browser, so it can’t get to YouTube at all.
There’s clearly an opportunity for YouTube to do more with game consoles. In addition to needing an interface that’s centered around thumbsticks and buttons, I’d like to see an even greater focus on curation, with playlists for professional content such as TED talks and Red vs. Blue. That’s something I’d want for YouTube Leanback in general, but a push into game consoles could be the catalyst.
Here’s the listing if you think you’re Google material.