Maybe Google’s gaming dreams aren’t vaporware after all.
At the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in March, Google plans on giving a keynote presentation, during which it will reveal an unannounced gaming project (hat tip to Polygon for the info). According to rumors, the search-engine giant is hard at work on a subscription-based streaming service.
This isn’t the first time such rumors have surfaced. In February 2018, The Information reported that Google was hard at work on a game-streaming service, code-named “Yeti,” that would allow players to access games via a console or Chromecast device. However, those rumors soon quieted without Google unveiling anything.
The video-game market hit $137.9 billion in 2018, and may increase to $180 billion by 2021, according to an analysis by Newzoo. Google has tiptoed around the edges of that lucrative market for quite some time—for example, it was reportedly in the running to acquire Twitch, the popular game-streaming website, before Amazon snatched it up—but it hasn’t yet devoted a massive amount of resources to the effort, unless you count encouraging third-party developers to build games for the Android platform.
Late last year, Google offered a limited number of gamers to participate in Project Stream, which allowed them to stream “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey” over their web connections. It seems likely that if Google announced a game-streaming platform, the technology demonstrated by Project Stream may come into play (so to speak) in a big way. “Assassin’s Creed” is a complex game with high-end graphics and fast-paced action, making it a showcase for the capabilities of such technology.
If Google wants to compete against Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, and the other juggernauts of the space, it will need to enlist a mix of developers willing to build really cool games. It’s also not inconceivable that it might attempt to acquire its own gaming studio, similar to what Microsoft did with “Minecraft”-maker Mojang (cost: $2.5 billion) or Amazon with Double Helix (terms undisclosed).
For game developers, Google’s streaming project is worth keeping an eye on; if this is the year that “Yeti” finally launches, it could mean yet another market for those developers determined to port their games onto multiple platforms. Even if “Yeti” is small at the outset, it could still mean a stream of revenue from early players.