YouTube Tests ‘Playables,’ an Online Gaming Product, After Closure of Stadia

The Wall Street Journal reports that YouTube, owned by Google, is currently experimenting with a novel product for online gaming. The product, named “Playables,” seeks to extend YouTube’s capabilities beyond merely hosting video content and venture into the domain of online gaming. An email sent to Google employees, which the Journal had the opportunity to view, highlights YouTube’s fresh ambition. Users will be able to access games via both mobile devices and desktop computers through YouTube’s platform. These games can be instantly played either via the YouTube website or through the YouTube mobile app compatible with iOS and Android. The product aims to leverage the fact that gamers already flock to YouTube to watch live streams of video gaming competitions, a space where YouTube currently vies with Amazon’s Twitch for viewer attention.

Potential Resurgence in Revenue Streams

By stepping into the sphere of online gaming, YouTube aims to bolster its flagging advertising revenue. While the online gaming sector has faced its struggles recently, a company spokesperson stated, “Gaming has long been a focus at YouTube. We’re always experimenting with new features, but have nothing to announce right now.” The exact profit model for YouTube’s new venture remains uncertain. However, Google’s existing ecosystem does offer a hint. The Google Play Store houses numerous mobile games available to Android users. Developers with annual earnings over $1 million are obligated to remit up to a 30% cut of in-app transactions to Google.

Lessons Learnt from Stadia

Google’s previous venture into the gaming domain, Stadia, a service that enabled users to stream games directly from the cloud to multiple devices, was shut down due to lackluster subscription numbers. The announcement made in September 2022 was a setback for Google’s gaming ambitions, but it has provided some lessons. The Wall Street Journal suggests that YouTube may use Stadia’s technology to create a new revenue source, pointing towards the potential of cloud-based gaming platforms.

Types of Games

Some of the games being tested for YouTube are simple, popular games reminiscent of those once trending on platforms like WeChat and Facebook. In contrast to cutting-edge titles that Google reserves for the Play Store (and its 30% cut from in-app purchases), these games have a proven track record of popularity, making them appealing enough for online gamers. One such game cited by The Wall Street Journal is ‘Stack Bounce’. An arcade game, Stack Bounce, involves players tossing a bouncing ball to shatter layers of bricks.


While there is much left to be revealed about YouTube’s new gaming endeavor, the testing of Playables suggests a calculated strategy to invigorate the company’s revenue streams. Given the popularity of online gaming and YouTube’s existing user base, this development is certainly worth watching. For a comprehensive report on this story, visit The Wall Street Journal.

Looking Ahead

It remains to be seen how YouTube’s foray into online gaming will pan out. Critics and observers will keenly monitor the steps YouTube takes following its initial testing phase. This will not be Google’s first venture into the gaming sector, and the company will undoubtedly be mindful of the challenges faced by Stadia, their previous gaming product. While Stadia’s demise could be seen as a setback, the silver lining is that its technology still has potential for future projects, as shown by Playables’ testing. Despite not gaining the expected traction with users, Stadia’s approach to streaming games for consumers was built on a strong technology foundation. This foundation could provide a launchpad for future successes in the online gaming world.

Market Context

Entering the online gaming market is part of a broader trend for tech companies, with rivals such as Amazon and Facebook already investing in similar ventures. This means that YouTube’s venture into gaming isn’t just about driving user engagement or diversifying revenue streams—it’s also about staying competitive in an increasingly digital world. The recent struggles of the online gaming sector are also essential to consider. While gaming has long been a focus at YouTube, the profitability of such ventures remains unclear, especially in the post-pandemic world where even game developers are struggling.

Key Takeaways

YouTube is testing a new product, Playables, allowing users to play games instantly on mobile devices or desktop computers via the YouTube platform. YouTube’s venture into online gaming seeks to boost its lagging advertising revenue. Google’s previous gaming product, Stadia, didn’t gain the expected traction. However, it provided a strong technological foundation that might be used in Playables. The games being tested for YouTube are simple games that have previously shown popularity on platforms like WeChat and Facebook. While YouTube’s transition into the gaming arena is still in its early stages, it represents an exciting shift for the video-sharing platform. More details about Playables will likely be unveiled in the coming months. As of now, the gaming community and tech world alike eagerly await the full roll-out of this new venture.

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