Google reportedly bringing game streaming to YouTube because Stadia worked out so well

If at first you don't succeed...

YouTube Gaming

Google is testing game streaming through YouTube, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The service, dubbed ‘Playables,’ would allow YouTube users on mobile devices and PCs to stream games. The article only mentions these platforms, and presumably, Google wouldn’t support Playables on competitors’ consoles that run YouTube, like the PS5, Xbox Series X/S and Nintendo Switch.

So far, much remains unclear about Playables, including potential pricing and release timing. It’s also unclear exactly what kinds of games would even be offered on Playables. The WSJ only mentions one, in particular — Stack Bounce, a mobile arcade title about breaking colourful stacked platforms. It’s unclear if bigger games will be offered, such as the console- and PC-quality titles offered by game streaming services like Xbox Cloud Gaming and Nvidia GeForce Now.

That said, it’s clear such an offering would help YouTube better compete with rival video-sharing platforms like Twitch. The Amazon-owned service is particularly big in the gaming space, so Google allowing playable games within YouTube would certainly be one way to further differentiate itself.

However, any new Google gaming platform would no doubt be met with skepticism, given the company’s track record outside of Google Play mobile games. In January, the company shuttered its struggling Stadia game streaming service, which had launched in November 2019 and allowed people to play big console and PC games on mobile, PC and TVs. At the time, Stadia boss Phil Harrison acknowledged that Stadia hadn’t “gained the traction with users” that it had expected.

That said, Harrison also noted that it saw “clear opportunities to apply [Stadia’s] technology across other parts of Google like YouTube, Google Play, and our Augmented Reality (AR) efforts.” Specific examples weren’t provided, but clearly, Playables would fall into that. It’s worth noting that Canada’s Jade Raymond, the former head of Stadia’s first-party games division who went on to found PlayStation’s Haven, had spoken about unique use cases for Stadia within Google’s larger ecosystem.

One particular example she floated was integrating the tech into YouTube videos, so someone watching, say, a documentary on Atari and the viewer could then actually stream one of the games being shown. Of course, that’s a more ambitious scenario, and it’s unclear whether Google would even still want to pursue such a thing. For now, though, Playables sounds like a first step.

The biggest issue with Stadia, though, is that Google just never put in the time and effort required to build a platform. For instance, Raymond’s aforementioned first-party team was shuttered in about a year before it could even release a single game. This speaks to Google’s larger reputation for cancelling products.

In the meantime, Google is continuing to license the Stadia tech to third-party companies like Capcom, which has used it to offer a Resident Evil Village demo in PC browsers. In March, Google also expanded its Google Cloud services bundle to offer expanded solutions for developers running live service games, which have already been used by companies like Ubisoft and Niantic.

Image credit: Google

Source: The Wall Street Journal