Yesterday, Google announced plans for a new game-streaming service called Stadia.
Besides the logo, the controller, and a single game — Doom Eternal — the announcement left us with more questions than answers. Primary in my mind has been the query of why Google needs to be in the gaming business at all.
Isn’t it enough to dominate web search, ads, and browsers, smartphone operating systems, and maps? What part of our lives does Google not want to know about? And then it dawned on me that we might be looking at it from the wrong perspective: what if Stadia isn’t a case of Google aggressively entering a new business sphere, but rather a defensive one to protect its existing kingdom? YouTube has a practical monopoly on user-generated video online. It’s the birthplace of creative communities, the workplace for many, and the landing spot for a huge array of gaming-related videos.
Lest we forget, YouTube’s most popular personality, PewDiePie, got his start by filming himself playing games. Everything from replays of competitive e-sport matches to complete play-throughs of narrative-driven games, game reviews, and curated anthologies of funny moments in games make their way onto YouTube.
That’s the status quo, Google is the king.