For years, Google's gaming ambitions were a poorly kept secret Unfortunately, no one knew exactly what the company was planning to do - until it launched Google Stadia the official name of Project Stream. The issue that Google suffered from was a complete lack of consumer interest. The lack of interest led to the company shutting down its first-party studio, but that was just the beginning. Luckily for the company, others are more interested in Stadia's technology than consumers were in its product offering.
This week, after two years of relative nothing of interest coming from the Stadia brand, the results of the brand's focus shift is coming to reality. Shortly after shuttering the studio, the company announced via blog post that it intended to license its technology to others.
In 2021, we're expanding our efforts to help game developers and publishers take advantage of our platform technology and deliver games directly to their players.
Now, we're seeing Stadia being used under a white label offering through AT&T. If you are a customer, you might have seen advertising from AT&T offering exclusive access to Batman: Arkham Knight for wireless customers. The offer comes as the first known partnership between Stadia and another company to offer game streaming services without the Stadia branding.
The big question here is why? Clearly, the connection between the brands is strong: AT&T owns WarnerMedia, which owns DC Comics, which owns the Batman franchise. Clearly, AT&T is using its ownership chain to promote its other brands, especially with new games coming soon to the franchise. But, the wireless carrier tie-in is a strange one for a number of reasons.
The strangest connection here is that the game cannot be played on a mobile device - you have to play on a desktop. So, the mobile connection is odd at the very least. It would seem that a connection with AT&T's consumer internet division would make more sense, since that's where you'd be playing. Or even a connection with the HBO or HBO Max brands, which owns the franchise, would be a natural connection. But, here we are - a wireless carrier offering free access to a videogame which you cannot play on the company's devices.
Perhaps this is simply an experiment within the AT&T family of companies - an attempt to promote one brand, which has a ton of new and exciting projects in the pipeline, to its other customers. Vertical integration at its best, with no expectation for payment - simply a perk from one brand to another. On the other hand, it could also be a perk, similar to T-Mobile Tuesdays.
Whatever AT&T's purposes for licensing Google Stadia's technology, it shows that there is an interest in the market for white labeling the technology. If brands can more easily release their games, though streaming, directly to their customers without having to build up an infrastructure, it could mean a whole new way to play games. But, time will tell if this new venture goes well, or goes the way of OnLive.