YouTube Premium is Offering Free Video Games as Google Wades Back Into Gaming





After axing Stadia in January, Google is trying a different approach to video games – YouTube. 

Premium subscribers got a notification last week about a new feature users could enable called Playables, according to Droid Life. Once it’s turned on, you can find it in YouTube’s Explore tab for Android, iOS, and desktop.

The Playables tab features games like Angry Birds Showdown, Daily Solitaire, Brain Out, Stack Bounce, Color Burst 3D, Scooter Xtreme, Basketball FRVR, and 8 Ball Billiards Classic. The Playables Browse tab houses 39 games to play so far. 

Playables is available until March 28, 2024, according to YouTube Premium’s benefits page, after which YouTube will likely decide whether or not to keep the gaming hub. 

The video-sharing app started testing Playables in September and recently began rolling out a similar early access to Premium users in select markets, according to YouTube. The early-access Premium members can test the Playables and provide feedback if YouTube decided to do a wider roll out in the future.

The lineup is reminiscent of Apple’s endeavor into gaming, Apple Arcade, which focuses on a “casual” mobile gaming experience. Unlike Apple Arcade, Playables titles reportedly don’t need to be downloaded to play, which rules out offline gaming. I tried a few games, and so far it doesn’t look like Playables saves your progress. More recently, Netflix and even Crunchyroll have begun to offer casual games too. 

This represents a more measured approach to gaming than Stadia, which launched in 2019 with the aim to disrupt gaming by offering big name AAA titles over the internet. The service, which was hit with some initial hiccups, didn’t catch on with gamers, leading to the shutdown. 

YouTube, meanwhile, is already a home to gamers with a wealth of Let’s Plays and gaming walkthroughs. 

The service has been driving users to subscribe to its ad-free paid tier with a number of extra features like bundling in the meditation app Calm, high quality video, and free trials of Walmart+ and Xbox PC Game Pass. Perhaps most notably, the video-sharing app has doubled down its efforts to stop viewers from using ad-blockers to protect its ad-generated revenue.     

YouTube Premium costs $13.99 a month — or $139.99 annually — for individuals, $22.99 a month for families, and $7.99 a month after a one-month free trial for students

Image credit: YouTube/Screenshot by Shelby Brown

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