Stadia 2.0? Google may let you play games on YouTube soon

YouTube Playables logo mock-up
(Image credit: Laptop Mag / Rael Hornby)

Google Stadia’s grave is barely cold, but parent company Alphabet are already looking to take a stab at gaming once more. This time around, its gaming ventures are focused on YouTube, with employees reportedly being invited to test out a new service dubbed Playables.

According to a recent WSJ report, YouTube Playables leaves all of the cloud streaming failures of the Stadia behind to focus on smaller, bite-sized titles for users to enjoy on desktop and mobile devices. “Bite-sized” being key to what to expect, as it would seem the titles on offer could be tied in to a lesser known Google project, GameSnacks

YouTube treads NewGrounds (dot com)

GameSnacks is currently Google’s home for casual, bite-sized gaming. Think of it as a bit of a small-scale Newgrounds or more accurately, the reanimated, shambling corpse of PopCap, offering all of the app store games you’ve grown to love, then hate, then uninstall and forget about entirely. Of course, that’s a lie, because GameSnacks doesn’t even make that much effort.

Instead of having some lighthearted fun in classic titles like Farmville, Candy Crush Saga, and Fruit Ninja, you’ll be playing their dime-store, discount, Macromedia Flash-like, shovelware alternatives like Comfy Farm, Candy Bubble, and Cake Slice Ninja. Titles so poorly remade and cheaply ripped off from the originals, I’m not even going to legitimize them with italics. 

Google Stadia is shutting down

Presumably, while on its way to trash the last remaining Stadia controllers, YouTube parent company Alphabet Inc. came across some shovelware nobody was using and decided to implement it into YouTube. Weird. (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Barely Playables

The WSJ report indicates that one of the games currently being tested for YouTube Playables is Stack Bounce, another title from the GameSnacks library and proud owner of a 1.3-star rating on the Google Play store.

Stack Bounce is the type of game that’s showcased in those annoying 30-second videos of somebody with an IQ deficiency failing miserably at it when a game you actually want to engage with forces you to take an ad break.

It’s a masochistic, low-poly adventure in tap-and-hold block breaking, designed to turn you into a mindless screen-prodding drone while racking up ad revenue for its creators.

Why is YouTube doing this? Well, according to the WSJ, Google is hoping to pursue new avenues of growth in the face of its current decline in advertising spending. In other words, the search-engine giant is hoping that this new gaming arm speaks their language: “Ads, ads, ads! Money, money, money!”

Outlook

I’ve never earnestly thought about YouTube as a platform for gaming, but now that I have, I can already envision far better uses. Imagine taking part in a livestream where you can quickly jump into a game of Blitz Chess with GM and YouTuber Hikaru Nakamura. Imagine comment section disputes being settled over a Quake III Arena duel, or an open invitational QWOP tournament hosted by Ricky Berwick.

The possibilities are endless, which makes it all the more frustrating that this is seemingly the best Google and YouTube could come up with. Somewhere out there in the multiverse exists a world in which YouTube Playables is a success story. It’s just unlikely to be this one.

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Rael Hornby
Content Editor

Rael Hornby, potentially influenced by far too many LucasArts titles at an early age, once thought he’d grow up to be a mighty pirate. However, after several interventions with close friends and family members, you’re now much more likely to see his name attached to the bylines of tech articles. While not maintaining a double life as an aspiring writer by day and indie game dev by night, you’ll find him sat in a corner somewhere muttering to himself about microtransactions or hunting down promising indie games on Twitter.