Google’s YouTube Is Testing an Online-Games Offering | Mint

Google’s YouTube Is Testing an Online-Games Offering

Google recently invited employees to begin testing a new YouTube product called Playables, which gives users access to games on mobile devices or desktop computers. (Photo: Reuters)
Google recently invited employees to begin testing a new YouTube product called Playables, which gives users access to games on mobile devices or desktop computers. (Photo: Reuters)

Summary

  • The new service, called ‘Playables,’ is part of CEO’s push into new areas amid advertising slowdown

YouTube is internally testing a product for playing online games, according to an email sent to employees at parent company Google, signaling ambitions to move beyond video hosting into games that can easily be played and shared between users.

Google recently invited employees to begin testing a new YouTube product called Playables, which gives users access to games on mobile devices or desktop computers, according to the email, which was viewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The games available for testing include titles such as Stack Bounce, an arcade game in which players attempt to smash layers of bricks with a bouncing ball, according to a screenshot of the product. Users would be able to play the games instantly via the YouTube site on web browsers or the YouTube app via devices running Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS mobile systems, according to the email.

YouTube, which counts billions of monthly users, is already a popular destination for gamers and competes with Amazon’s Twitch for viewers of livestreamed footage. By hosting a selection of online games, the product would give YouTube a larger footprint in the sector as Chief Executive Neal Mohan seeks new areas of growth following a slowdown in advertising spending.

Google has had mixed success distributing games in the past, and the product would be entering a cooling market for online gaming. The company often asks employees to test new services internally before releasing them to the public. Additional details about its plans for the product weren’t available.

“Gaming has long been a focus at YouTube," a company spokesman said in a statement. “We’re always experimenting with new features, but have nothing to announce right now."

Google allows users to download mobile games through the Google Play app store on Android devices, taking a cut of up to 30% from developers earning more than $1 million in revenue each year. The email to employees didn’t say how YouTube would make money from the product.

Simple, easily shareable games such as those being tested for Playables have had moments of popularity on services such as Tencent’s WeChat and Meta Platforms-owned Facebook. Some developers of viral games—such as “Angry Birds"—have struggled to replicate that initial success.

Consumer spending on mobile gaming, a category including many casual games that are free to play with advertisements, fell last year as part of a broader industry slowdown following a period of pandemic-fueled growth.

Google previously said last year it would wind down a consumer-gaming service called Stadia because it had failed to attract enough users. Stadia allowed players to stream games directly from the cloud to multiple devices, a technologically difficult task that required Google to create a customized chip with Advanced Micro Devices.

Stadia head Phil Harrison said Google saw opportunities to apply the service’s technology to other parts of the company, including YouTube, following the shutdown.

Write to Miles Kruppa at miles.kruppa@wsj.com

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