YouTube’s mobile game push Playables is rolling out to all users

By 05/28/2024
YouTube’s mobile game push Playables is rolling out to all users

YouTube‘s push into gaming is no longer locked to Premium subscribers.

You may have heard about Playables, YouTube’s long-rumored move into video game distribution, but for those of you who haven’t, here’s the tl;dr: Last June, we got reports that YouTube wanted to offer a selection of free, casual, mobile-style games that would be played directly on its platform. Then, in November, Playables officially debuted as a 37-game library, but it was dubbed an experiment, only available to Premium users. (Access to experiments—which may or may not be implemented as full features–became one of Premium’s main perks after YouTube shuttered Originals.)

Now, some non-Premium YouTube users can tap into Playables, too. The library has expanded to over 75 games that YouTube calls “lightweight.” We thought that might mean it wants you to play the games and watch videos at the same time, but at least for now, it appears that’s not possible. Once you’re in a game, it’s full-screen, and there’s no background player for vids.

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Titles include Angry Birds Showdown, Words of Wonders, Cut the Rope, Tomb of the Mask, and Trivia Crack.

For a taste of what “lightweight” means, a game that kept getting recommended to us was Turbo Stars, where you guide your lo-fi little dude on a skateboard past NPC competitors to win 30-second matches. Each win counts as progress toward new courses and cosmetics.

The Playables rollout will be staggered; some users have access now, and YouTube says it’ll be “widening availability to more users over the coming months.” If you have access, you’ll see Playables as a tab on the Explore menu of YouTube’s home page.

As we’ve mentioned previously, this move isn’t a big surprise. YouTube gets a lot of watch time from mobile devices, so it wanting to capitalize on some of the hundreds of billions of dollars spent annually on mobile gaming only makes sense (especially since Google‘s previous gaming attempt, Stadia, failed with gusto).

TikTok and Netflix, both competitors for YouTube, also have their own mobile gaming hubs, which likely contributed to YouTube’s push into the space. Netflix’s hub launched in 2021, and TikTok’s came out in 2022.

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