Google's Stadia Pivots To Being Some White Label Game Streaming Platform For Others To Use
from the maybe-they-can-make-it-good dept
The saga of Google’s Stadia product has been long, winding, and mostly disappointing. The initial launch of Google’s platform, billed as a Netflix-style video game streaming service, was underwhelming and plagued with Obamacare-like rollout issues, failed promises, underperforming adoption rates, and a paltry catalogue of games on the platform. Other than that, the launch of Stadia went off without a hitch.
But the problems continued. The in-house development studio Google setup to make games for Stadia was nixxed without ever having produced a single game, support for the platform suddenly became a non-thing due to staffing cuts, and more Stadia staff headed for greener pastures.
With all of that, you might think that Stadia has been destined for a grave next to Google Plus. And maybe that’s still the case, but it seems Google is going to take the long way to get there if it is, as the company has made some vague noises about Stadia no longer being a platform for gamers to stream games on directly, but rather a platform for other companies to try to make, you know, actually successful.
Rather than continuing to push Stadia as a consumer-facing, branded service, Google seems to want to pivot the service to what would essentially be “Google Cloud Gaming Platform.” This would be a back-end, white-label service that could power other companies’ products, just like a million other Google Cloud products, like database hosting and push messaging. Google said it believes a back-end service “is the best path to building Stadia into a long-term, sustainable business.”
Or they could have… you know… fixed it. But, frankly, a white-label platform as described above is more Google’s traditional speed. Still, there are obvious questions about all of this. If other companies can make Stadia work as a game streaming service, why couldn’t Google itself? Is this really just a function of Google’s inability to properly partner with game publishers to make this all work, or is the issue the underlying technology itself? This really is all going to work like a VoIP provider layering a useful platform on top of GCP?
We’re apparently going to get some answers to that thanks to — wait for it — AT&T.
This all brings us to this Batman game presented by AT&T Wireless. The site notes that “for the first time ever,” you can now play the 2015 game Batman: Arkham Knight with “beta streaming on your computer. No downloads or waiting.” AT&T’s game-streaming service requires a Chrome-based browser and sounds a whole lot like Google Stadia. This is the same thought 9to5Google had when it investigated the game and found hints that it connects to Google’s services and mentions of Stadia’s “cloudcast” codename.
AT&T later confirmed that, yes, it is using Stadia to power this streamed game. Streaming the game requires an AT&T wireless account, which itself raises all kinds of questions. What does any of this have to do with mobile wireless? Will AT&T game streaming, using Google’s Stadia, be exempted from AT&T’s data caps (hat tip Karl Bode)? Why is Google setting up a situation where actual paying Stadia customers can’t play this Batman game… but AT&T subscribers can?
Regardless, it appears that the future of Stadia, if there is one, is far from the public facing, direct to customer game streaming service it was announced to be. Instead, it will be some invisible background platform, more akin to a game engine than anything remotely resembling Netflix.