Don’t Cross the Streamers
Google has been trying to crack the gaming market for some time, and the Stadia has been a step in the right direction despite some teething problems. With many companies opening up to the possibilities of cloud-based streaming as a standard for gaming, Google is looking to position itself at the forefront of that revolution – which is why recent comments from the creative director of Stadia’s Montreal studio caused such a stir.
Alex Hutchinson took to twitter to discuss to vent about streamers who were concerned about their content being pulled because of music rights. Hutchinson took the issue a step (or perhaps more accurately, leap) further by commenting “The real truth is the streamers should be paying the developers and publishers of the games they stream. They should be buying a license like any real business and paying for the content they use.” These comments caused a very interesting discourse online, with many jumping to the defence of streamers by pointing out how much value they add to the industry.
The Stadia is a platform designed to stream games and allow its users to broadcast their content, and Google’s service has many features designed around the idea of players being able to view each other’s streams. More broadly, Stadia is planned to be closely integrated with Youtube (also owned by Google), which is home to many of the world’s most popular streamers. Hutchinson’s stance, while not without its supporters, flies in the face of the general direction that most games industry actors are taking with regard to streamers – with Microsoft and Sony actively touting the ease with which players can share their gameplay.
In a statement, Google representatives claimed “The recent tweets by Alex Hutchinson, creative director at the Montreal Studio of Stadia Games and Entertainment, do not reflect those of Stadia, YouTube or Google.” It is not uncommon at all for there to be a dissonance between a corporate entity and one of its employees, however this was particularly intriguing for a couple of reasons. First and foremost because Hutchinson’s comments proved to be very unpopular, receiving a backlash that Google cannot have failed to notice. Secondly, because Google has not been very consistent or forthcoming with its messaging about Stadia, what it plans for the future of its gaming service. These comments forced the monolith into action, having to at least clarify that for the time-being, streamers are welcome on Stadia!
The games industry may well be at a tipping point. Microsoft and Sony launch their next generation consoles in less than a month, while Amazon and Google are attempting to access the market using a lower price-point and pushing a Netflix-for-games type model. This is not a time for any company to alienate the growing audience for games, and game-related streaming content, which is why Google was so quick to make a statement. Streamers will definitely be a part of gaming’s future, just how the relationship between developers, publishers, and streamers will work is going to be a long and winding road.
Do you thing streamers should pay to license content? Civilised discussion in the comments encouraged!