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Sounds like Google isn’t done with cloud gaming just yet

YouTube is reportedly testing Playables, a new ‘instant’ gaming service

A photograph of a physical version of the YouTube logo resting on a shelf Photo: Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images
Oli Welsh is senior editor, U.K., providing news, analysis, and criticism of film, TV, and games. He has been covering the business & culture of video games for two decades.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, YouTube has begun testing a service called Playables, which makes simple online games playable “instantly” within the YouTube website and app. An email was sent out inviting Google employees to begin testing the games.

Reportedly, one game available for testing is called Stack Bounce. It sounds like a Breakout clone, with players aiming “to smash layers of bricks with a bouncing ball.” The Wall Street Journal says the Playables test is composed of “simple, easily shareable games.”

There’s no word of the business model for Playables, nor of how the service works. It sounds strikingly similar to the YouTube integration that was planned for Google’s ambitious cloud gaming platform Stadia, which shut down in January after just three years in operation. The intention there was for YouTube viewers to be able to switch instantly and seamlessly from watching a playthrough of a game on YouTube to playing it for themselves on Stadia.

When Stadia’s closure was announced, platform boss Phil Harrison said that Google saw “clear opportunities to apply this technology across other parts of Google,” citing YouTube. Playables could well be a way for Google to repurpose Stadia’s investment in streaming tech, although the games offered for the test sound much simpler than those on the Stadia platform (and, arguably, less well matched to the YouTube gaming audience, which isn’t known for its love of casual gaming).

Playables sounds more like the new version of gaming on Facebook (remember FarmVille?) than a cloud gaming platform to rival Xbox or Nvidia — and Google’s history with getting directly involved in gaming is checkered, to say the least. But it will be interesting to see if another division within the tech giant can have more success.

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