8th September 2023
YouTube confirmed this week that it is publicly testing a new online game offering for users called ‘Playables’.
YouTube is now looking to expand its gaming presence beyond just watching gaming content, with a new ‘Playables’ feature that will let users play simple games in-stream.
The move could be way for YouTube to continue its appeal down generations. The GenZ audience has a huge preference for gaming and gaming content because they were born into a world of online gaming and the metaverse, in the same way that Millenials consume huge amounts of on demand video having been born into, and spent their formative years in, a world dominated by YouTube.
The new experiment, available to a limited number of users currently, can be accessed on desktop and mobile and will live in a new ‘Playables’ section on YouTube’s home feed. Those users in the beta test can view and control their Playables history and saved game progress in YouTube History.
There is very little information about the games that will be available through the app, however Stack Bounce, a simple arcade style game where players bounce a 3D ball to break through layers of rotating bricks is one of the rumoured titles. Stack Bounce is already available on Google’s minigames service, GameSnacks.
Gaming is already a significant part of the YouTube experience, with gaming content generating over 4 billion hours of watch time in 2022, so YouTube's move into direct game access is an expansion of its active gaming community.
However, YouTube is not the only streaming video platform exploring gaming. Netflix is actively venturing into mobile games based on its popular shows, potentially increasing their attractiveness and creating a more immersive universe for viewers / players to explore and interact with. It should be noted that it hasn’t seen a big response so far. Meanwhile, TikTok has introduced games to a select group and tested features like streamer-viewer interactions and live trivia contests with cash rewards.
Google's major gaming endeavour, Stadia, was discontinued in January after it failed to gain enough traction, Stadia faced challenges in competing with Microsoft's Xbox Cloud Gaming and Nvidia GeForce Now. Google has found success with games placed where users frequently encounter them online, like on Google's homepage with Doodles. If games become visible while users scroll through YouTube, there's potential for user engagement.
YouTube is adding playable games to its platform, in an attempt to expand its offering around gaming and its relationship with gamers and also Gen Z. YouTube has been successful in expanding from its origins as a video service to include live TV, movie rentals, music, podcasts, gaming entertainment and now playable games is its latest foray.
However, the success of game play within a primarily video app is uncertain, with gaming a more lean-in than lean-out experience, but it could boost user engagement and time spent and if so provide revenue opportunities such as sponsorships and ad placements in future.