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Here's How Google Stadia Will Make Money

Google released its Stadia game streaming platform last month with some impressive specifications and promises. In an on-stage discussion at the GamesBeat conference in Los Angeles last this week, Google's Phil Harrison, who runs the Stadia division, said Stadia has been architectured to support a wide variety of "monetization options.”

Google Stadia Monetization

According to Harrison, Stadia platform will make money off purchases, but also via transactions and subscription options, among other things. Another way to read this is that playing a game on Stadia will not necessarily require a monthly subscription, but in the end it may be up to the developers to choose which models suit their games most.

Harrison also noted that there is no technical limitation on how the platform can implement a variety of business models. This is good news for developers desiring a kind of business model flexibility that they can't on other platforms.

Frictionless Discovery

Harrison also hinted that integration with YouTube and potentially Google messaging services will be a major advantage for the Stadia platform. In an example, he painted a picture of how someone could watch a video about a game on YouTube and then they’d be able to jump to an instance of the game at a specific point in the video.

People could also much more easily share linkable streaming games with each other via messaging platforms, which could lead to a new form of game discovery. He noted that "when a game is a link, the Internet is your store.”

There could be some friction if a user would have to buy the complete game every time they saw a Stadia game link, but the experience could become frictionless if the user has an all-you-can-play subscription, if the game is free-to-play and ad-supported, or if the shared game offers a timed trial.

Streaming Games Will Not Happen Overnight

Harrison is confident that game streaming is the future of gaming, in part because it gives access to high-end games to anyone with a decent internet connection and in part due to other advantages, such as developers being able to push game changes to every player, all at once.

However, he also warned that this change to streaming games is not going to happen overnight:

“It's not going to be a switch that we flip and suddenly we're all in this utopia of cloud-based gaming. It is going to take a while to get to the scale we think we can get to."

Part of the transition will be about developers getting used to developing games that are cloud-centric as opposed to device centric. Google itself may also have to go through some launch as well as growing pains with the platforms, as past streaming gaming services have proven quite fickle, often breaking the gaming experience for the player due to high connection delays, interruptions and so on.

Harrison said that Google will provide more details about the platform this summer, including more information about how players will be able to buy and access Stadia games, as well as details about the games themselves.