YouTube is Testing an Online Games Service: Report

In an effort to extend its reach beyond video hosting, Google-owned YouTube is conducting internal tests on a new product called ‘Playables’, designed for online gaming.

According to an internal email circulated among Google employees, this product will offer users the ability to access games on their mobile or desktop devices, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The selection of games includes titles like ‘Stack Bounce’, an arcade game where players try to demolish layers of bricks with a bouncing ball. The platform will be accessible via web browsers and the YouTube app on devices supporting Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS systems.

YouTube, which enjoys billions of active users monthly, is known as a favoured platform for gamers and is a significant rival to Amazon’s Twitch in the live streaming segment. The integration of online games is expected to further consolidate YouTube’s position in the gaming industry. This move comes at a time when YouTube’s CEO, Neal Mohan, is actively exploring new areas for expansion, given the recent downturn in advertising spend.

Despite its previous endeavours in game distribution yielding mixed results, Google is optimistic about this initiative. However, the gaming market seems to be cooling down, which could pose challenges. Google typically asks its employees to internally test new services before they are made available to the public, and Playables is no exception.

A spokesperson from the company stated, “Gaming has long been a focus at YouTube. We’re always experimenting with new features, but have nothing to announce right now.”

‘Playables’ sounds like mini games to keep people glued inside the YouTube app. But browser-based games can only do so much. If YouTube wants to get into mobile games they should copy what Netflix is doing with their free mobile games offerings, only for paid members.

The revenue model for this new product remains unclear. However, Google currently enables users to download mobile games through its Google Play store on Android devices, charging developers a fee of up to 30% for revenues exceeding $1 million annually.

Playables’ easily shareable and simple games are similar to those popular on Tencent’s WeChat and Meta Platforms’ Facebook. Nevertheless, some viral game developers, such as the creators of “Angry Birds”, have encountered difficulties in repeating their initial success.

The move towards developing Playables follows Google’s announcement last year to discontinue its consumer-gaming service, Stadia, due to lackluster user numbers. Stadia’s cloud-based game streaming technology might find application in other sectors within the company, including YouTube, as suggested by Stadia head, Phil Harrison.

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