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YouTube’s Playables Catalog Now Open to All Users

ByHuey Yee Ong

May 31, 2024
YouTube’s Playables Catalog Now Open to All Users

YouTube’s Playables Catalog Now Open to All Users

YouTube is broadening its service offerings with a new feature named “Playables,” an extensive catalog of free, lightweight games now accessible within the YouTube app and on its homepage for all users.

Initially introduced to a select group of testers and subsequently to YouTube Premium subscribers in November of the previous year, this feature represents YouTube’s foray into the gaming sector without challenging the traditional app store model, as these games are available for free and do not include in-app purchases or paid downloads.

The announcement made on Tuesday marks a significant step for YouTube, positioning Playables as a competitor, although indirectly, to free games on platforms like Apple’s App Store. These App Store games often attract casual gamers and generate revenue primarily through advertisements. In contrast, YouTube’s Playables are not yet a source of revenue for the company, as they do not monetize through traditional routes like paid downloads or in-game purchases.

The strategic integration of AI by YouTube’s parent company, Google, prompts questions about the impact of new technologies on its predominant ad business, particularly the sponsored links that generate significant revenue above search results.

Although there’s potential for YouTube to utilize Playables as a new medium for ads, Google has not yet indicated plans to monetize these games. Instead, the immediate goal appears to be enhancing user engagement by providing entertaining distractions within the YouTube environment.

What Games Are Included in YouTube’s Playables?

YouTube’s Playables include a variety of games, some of which have gained popularity, such as Angry Birds Showdown, Words of Wonders, Cut the Rope, Tomb of the Mask, and Trivia Crack. Additionally, the lineup features games like Stack Bounce and GameSnacks, the latter of which emerged from Google’s internal incubator, Area 120, aimed at delivering gaming experiences to users in emerging markets where Android is the predominant operating system.

Currently, the Playables catalog boasts over 75 minigames. Google has implemented features allowing players to save their progress and keep track of their high scores within the YouTube app. While the rollout of these features will be gradual, with availability varying by user, the full implementation is expected to be completed in the coming weeks.

This initiative by YouTube is part of a larger trend observed among tech giants who are increasingly exploring the gaming sector as a strategy to bypass the commissions charged by traditional app stores and to supplement their revenue streams.

Notably, other major players like Netflix and Epic Games are also expanding their gaming services. Netflix offers games that require a subscription, accessible through its website to circumvent app store fees, while Epic Games is leveraging new EU regulations to extend its gaming store to European users.

Moreover, other companies, including LinkedIn, have recently ventured into gaming, highlighting a growing recognition of the benefits of integrating gaming into broader business strategies.

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Featured Image courtesy of YouTube

Huey Yee Ong

Hello, from one tech geek to another. Not your beloved TechCrunch writer, but a writer with an avid interest in the fast-paced tech scenes and all the latest tech mojo. I bring with me a unique take towards tech with a honed applied psychology perspective to make tech news digestible. In other words, I deliver tech news that is easy to read.

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