Night Light | Quit Playin Games

Got Any Games on Your YouTube?

Yo, what? YouTube has games now? The other day, while browsing my homepage, I noticed that YouTube has a section called YouTube Playables (which will appear if you have Experimental Features turned on) where you can play games like Angry Birds, Chess, and Cut the Rope. It reminds me a little of the heyday of Facebook games, but I can see it evolving into something that people actually use if it continues to develop.

Bout to go in on Cut the Rope.

How does it work?

If you have Experimental Features turned on, you’ll find games while scrolling through your explore page. Most of the games remind me of the ones advertised on Instagram and TikTok, as well as popular titles you’ve probably downloaded and played on your phone in the past. The thing that stood out the most to me was that the games open directly within the youtube app or web, without redirecting you to the app store. There are currently no in-game purchases or pay-to-win features.

I’ve been grinding Draw Climber

Where do I see this going and what is the potential?

When I first saw this, my mind went to whether creators would be able to make and monetize their own games. Could I create my own Tetris game and sell in-app purchases? This is a significant opportunity to redirect your fanbase to play your game while staying within the YouTube app.

Name a better duo than ice crabbing and Pirate Pop.

I’d also like to be able to watch a video and play a game at the same time. Think of a side-by-side where you’re playing a puzzle game while also watching Outdoor Boys cook corn bread in -30° weather.

Everyone seems to be trying out games.

Netflix, Discord, and even Snapchat have all experimented with in-app games. I think the most successful example so far is Netflix, which saw a 180% increase in installs in 2023. Games that tend to perform well are already popular titles like Grand Theft Auto, and games that are heavily tied to IP, like Stranger Things or SpongeBob. Discord, on the other hand, has been leaning into creators building, sharing, and playing with friends all in one place. If YouTube can leverage what makes them special (the creators) to make games, it might work well in the long run. My confidence level that this works is still pretty low.

Blending YouTube Shorts with gaming.

There’s an opportunity for creator games to function similarly to YouTube Shorts. You'd visit YouTube, click on Shorts, and navigate to a games tab. Imagine scrolling through games the way you swipe through content. Popular games would rise to the top based on playtime and likes/comments.

Speedrunning speedrunning.

The Big Takeaway

YouTube is testing games as an experimental feature. Right now the games feel like the ones you see on TikTok ads, but if YouTube opens this up to creators and allows monetization, I think they have an opportunity to build a gaming platform. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a feature like this in-app, others have come before with varying levels of success. If done well, YouTube could lean in to creators by offering discoverability and monetization. If you want the most honest review of each game, check out Ludwig’s definitive ranking for each. Draw Climber is my pick.

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