YouTube’s Big Gaming Push Feels Like It’s From 2004

YouTube’s Big Gaming Push Feels Like It’s From 2004

YouTube has finally launched its much-trailed gaming offering named “Playables”, a selection of games you can play directly within YouTube. Why does this exist? Maybe a big launch exclusive? Perhaps something that will rival the consoles? Free stuff you can’t get elsewhere? Nope.

You might not have heard, but gaming is big business. The games industry dwarfs movies in terms of revenue and audiences, despite the peculiar refusal of all other media to acknowledge its ubiquitous existence. Any corporation that has a requirement to make numbers go up wants to figure out a way to get a slice of that enormous, bulging pie. Thus, we see the weird, confusing efforts from Amazon and Netflix to try to be involved, and now YouTube too.

Except YouTube is exhibiting some big boomer energy with its delivery. If you visit the Playables page (which is available in most of the world now, but not everywhere), you could be forgiven for thinking you’d accidentally clicked on a Wayback link for an early iteration of Kongregate. It’s woeful stuff, with scrappy logos for generic-sounding casual games with names like “8 Ball Billiards Classic” and “Bubble Pop Star.”

Screenshot: YouTube / Kotaku

Hidden in the list of over 75 games are some names you’ve heard of. There’s Angry Birds Showdown, which to be scrupulously fair, is a Playables exclusive, the 35,821st iteration of the franchise originally announced in 2019 for mobile, and seemingly once a Facebook Messenger app? There’s also 2010’s Cut the Rope, and, er, 2018’s Words of Wonder? I’m struggling to find anything else notable.

But if what you’re after is a large selection of solitaire games to play in your browser, then welcome to Yahoo Games for the new millennium! It’s even got that classic Wordle rip-off called Hurdle that appears on The Washington Post. Some of these games will be surelydistracting in the way casual games are supposed to be, but I’m at a loss as to what YouTube thinks it’s offering here that every other site isn’t.

The games run in your browser, like you’re used to, but this time you’re playing Gin Rummy or Lunch Box Ready with a YouTube URL? It’s bewildering that this could go live without some big-name mobile games beyond a long-forgotten Angry Birds variant, and it’s just wildly unclear what this actually exists for, beyond something else into which Google can stick irritating adverts.

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