Google is already kind of a player in the video game market thanks to the billions of people who play mobile games on their Android phones. But The Information reports that Google wants in on the home console market… kind of.
The company is said to be working on a game streaming service, codenamed “Yeti,” that would let you play games on a TV using a wireless controller. Games would be streamed over the internet, so there’d be nothing to download and install. And instead of paying for games on an individual basis, you’d pay a subscription, making Yeti the latest tempt to launch a “Netflix-for-games” type service.
Google wouldn’t be the first company to launch a game streaming service. NVIDIA’s GeForce Now lets you stream games over the internet for $8 per month. PlayStation Now lets gamers stream a library of 600 titles with plans starting at $10 per month. And a new startup called Blade wants to rent you a virtual gaming PC in the cloud for $35 per month (or more).
It’s unclear how much Google’s game streaming service would cost or what games would be available. The company is said to be talking to game developers, but there’s no word on whether any have signed on to support the platform yet.
But Google could do a couple of interesting things if it manages to bring Yeti to market.
First, the company could lower the barrier for entry to gaming. An early version of the service was reportedly designed to work with a Google Chromecast device, which means you’d just need a $35 media streamer and a game controller to play games.
It sounds like Google has moved on from that plan and is developing a new box and game controller instead. But given Google’s other products aimed at the living room (including Chromecast and Google Home smart speakers), I’d expect them to be a lot more affordable than the latest PlayStation or Xbox consoles.
Or maybe you’ll need an Android TV-enabled device. The long-discontinued Google Nexus Player was kind of the first Google (and Asus) game console for the living room after all).
Second, the service could open up a new revenue stream for Google. The company makes most of its money from advertising, but this wouldn’t be the company’s the first subscription service. Google Play Music Unlimited and YouTube Red are two examples, although both are basically premium, ad-free upgrades to existing ad-supported services.
Google’s YouTube Live TV-over-the-internet service, meanwhile, is only available to paying subscribers.
It sounds like Google plans to take the YouTube Live approach toward its Yeti game streaming service… although a freemium approach with both an ad-supported tier and a paid ad-free option would certainly be interesting.
That said, Google hasn’t even confirmed that it is working on a game streaming service. While I have no reason to doubt The Information’s sources, just because Google is said to be working on the service behind closed doors doesn’t mean it’ll ever actually see the light of day.