YouTube Launches Free Games for Everyone


YouTube’s game “app store” is expanding. The company announced on Tuesday that its suite of lightweight, free games, known as “Playables,” will soon be available within the YouTube app for all users, alongside being featured on the YouTube Home page. Initially, these games were accessible to a select group of users for testing before being rolled out to YouTube Premium subscribers last November.

YouTube’s Playables, which don’t monetize through paid downloads or in-app purchases, avoid directly challenging the app store model or contravening Apple’s guidelines. However, they compete with the free games on the App Store that often attract casual gamers and generate revenue through ads. As Google shifts focus to AI integration, questions arise about the impact of this technology on its ad business, which is heavily reliant on sponsored links appearing above search results. Although free games on YouTube could theoretically serve as a new platform for ads, Google has not yet indicated any plans to monetize its Playables.

The games could serve as a diversion for YouTube users between browsing and watching videos, thereby enhancing user engagement with the YouTube app.

The Playables lineup features some well-known titles such as Angry Birds Showdown, Words of Wonders, Cut the Rope, Tomb of the Mask, and Trivia Crack, among others. It also includes games like Stack Bounce, offered on Google’s HTML minigames service, and GameSnacks, developed through its internal incubator, Area 120. The aim of GameSnacks was to make gaming accessible to users in emerging markets, where Android has a strong presence.

Currently, there are over 75 minigames in the Playables catalog, according to Google. Players using this feature will be able to save their game progress and track their all-time best scores. While the Playables feature won’t be visible to all users immediately, it is expected to be fully rolled out in the coming weeks.

YouTube is not the only tech company venturing into gaming. Netflix has been expanding its game library through acquisitions, licensing deals, and in-house development. Additionally, Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, is looking to capitalize on new EU regulations to introduce its games store to European users. Other unexpected entrants into the gaming space include LinkedIn.

These initiatives underscore how companies are utilizing games to bypass App Store commissions while boosting their own revenues. Although Netflix’s games are available on the App Store, they require a Netflix subscription, which must be purchased through its website.

Sarah Perez
Sarah Perez
Staff writer. Previously, Sarah worked for over three years at ReadWriteWeb, a technology news publication. Before working as a reporter, Perez worked in I.T. across a number of industries, including banking, retail and software.

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