According to an internal email sent to Google employees, YouTube, owned by Google, is conducting internal testing for an online gaming product. The aim is to expand beyond its role as a video hosting platform and enter the gaming industry, enabling users to easily play and share games with each other.
The email, obtained by The Wall Street Journal, revealed that Google invited employees to participate in testing a new YouTube feature called Playables. This feature provides access to a variety of games that can be played on mobile devices or desktop computers. One of the games mentioned in the email is Stack Bounce, an arcade game where players attempt to break layers of bricks using a bouncing ball. The games would be instantly playable on the YouTube website through web browsers or the YouTube app on Android and iOS devices.
With billions of monthly users, YouTube is already a popular platform for gamers and competes with Twitch, owned by Amazon, for live-streamed gaming content. By incorporating an array of online games, YouTube aims to expand its presence in the gaming sector, especially as Chief Executive Neal Mohan looks for new avenues of growth due to a slowdown in advertising spending.
While Google has had mixed success in distributing games in the past, the company typically tests new services internally before releasing them to the public. Further details about the product’s plans were not disclosed in the email.
A spokesperson from YouTube confirmed that gaming has been a focus for the platform and that they are constantly experimenting with new features. However, no official announcements have been made regarding this particular product.
The email did not mention how YouTube intends to monetize this gaming product. Google currently earns revenue by allowing users to download mobile games through the Google Play app store, taking a percentage cut from developers earning over $1 million in revenue annually.
Simple and shareable games, similar to those being tested for Playables, have gained popularity on platforms like Tencent’s WeChat and Meta Platforms-owned Facebook. However, developers of viral games, such as “Angry Birds,” have struggled to replicate their initial success.
The mobile gaming industry, including casual games that are free to play with advertisements, experienced a decline in consumer spending last year, contributing to a broader industry slowdown following a period of growth driven by the pandemic.
In the past, Google announced the discontinuation of its consumer gaming service called Stadia due to a lack of user adoption. Stadia allowed players to stream games directly from the cloud to multiple devices, requiring Google to develop a customized chip in collaboration with Advanced Micro Devices. Following the closure of Stadia, Google expressed intentions to apply the technology to other areas of the company, including YouTube.