Google secretly had a giant gaming vision that includes bringing games to Mac

Apple’s Mac has long been an afterthought for the video game industry, and few think of Google as a games company — despite running Android, one of the biggest game platforms in the world. But Google had a plan to change those things in October 2020, according to an explicitly confidential 70-page vision document dubbed “Games Futures.”

The “need-to-know” document, which was caught up in the discovery process when Epic Games hauled Apple into court, reveals a tentative five-year plan to create what Google dubbed “the world’s largest games platform.” Google imagined presenting game developers with a single place they can target gamers across multiple screens including Windows and Mac, as well as smart displays — all tied together by Google services and a “low-cost universal portable game controller” that gamers can pair with any device, even a TV.

There’s some reason to be skeptical that this document reflects Google’s true direction: “Brought to you by ‘partially funded’ and ‘i have a dream’ productions,’” an early slide reads. And we know that Google lost some of its gaming ambition this February, when it decided to pull the plug on its original game studios for Google Stadia.

And yet, the heavily redacted document suggests that to start down this path, Google would first bring “emulated, native and streamed games” to Windows, something that no longer sounds far-fetched: Microsoft just announced in June that Android apps are coming to Windows 11, admittedly with Amazon’s Appstore as the initial partner.

If Google is actually going in this direction, you can get a glimpse of what to expect in the full 70-page document embedded below. It includes how Google would try to establish its Play Games brand as an “indie game destination,” bring roughly 100 of “the best of Android mobile games” to PC, require developers to support controllers and multiple platforms, and mandate minimum prices so it can attract “super-premium” games to the platform. There’s a lot that hasn’t been redacted, and it’s ambitious stuff.

And if you’d like more where that came from, you can find our whole list of the best emails from the Epic v. Apple trial right here.

Comments

I feel like most conversations about Google this was doomed from the start and it is not surprising we haven’t seen anything come from it. The company is too scattered brained and lacks the focus necessary to execute on a vision like this.

To be fair, I think any company would be too scatter-brained to execute a vision like this. Perhaps that’s google’s problem – it’s ideas, for certain things, aren’t focused enough. This vision is pretty similar to what other companies are developing toward, but they started more focused and built upon their existing services to get to this point.

This slide deck is really everything wrong with Google, and by extension modern corporate America in a nutshell.

70+ pages off absolute jargon BS to say "we’re bringing mobile games to mouse and keyboard" — which has been a terrible idea every time it’s ever been tried before.

This is actually embarrassing, not "ambitious". To know that…. THIS is what Google was up to —while Apple was putting the entire iOS store on the Mac, Microsoft was building their own complete android compatibility layer for Windows, and Steam was building a killer handheld with near-complete store support for Nintendo-caliber pricing? Is this delusion, negligence, incompetence or some combination?

a small time hairbrain scheme to funnel barrels of cash at a few mobile studios to float another content store nobody asked for. Yikes.

Every MBA on this project should be fired, instead they’ll get yearly promotions and shuffle around FAANG until they’re in their mid-40s, start a bullshit "incubator" and foster the next generation of bullshit artists.

Google is full of smart engineers, but also full of product managers who are either incompetent or forced to engage in full-scale internal warfare to defend their project/sabotage the fifteen internal competitors. The only reason the entire place hasn’t come to a screeching halt is because ads are a perpetual motion machine of profit.

As a product manager, never have I felt so personally attacked by something I fully agree with.

Steam was building a killer handheld with near-complete store support for Nintendo-caliber pricing?

Let’s wait for the thing to even be released, Steam is just as scatter-brained as Google, and has plenty of similar flops under its belt.

I’d argue that the difference here is the steam deck is a culmination of disparate, yet intrinsically linked projects where this Google nonsense is what’s scatterbrained.

You don’t get steam deck without first having done the desktop steam machine, OS, controller, and in home streaming. At least internally. The reason those "products" weren’t smash hits was… because they weren’t supposed to be. They were just components of an end-goal we never saw coming, and unlike google they actually built upon the core services their hardcore users engaged with – instead of pulling the rug out from under them.

I agree with that. I think each of the their products have been built on the last. Some have gone wrong, but that’s every company. Like there is some sense to what they do, and nothing is overly ambitious.

Valve experiments a lot out in the open – even more so internally, but a lot more externally than most companies – and they would be the first to tell you that a lot of those experiments aren’t going to go anywhere. However, looking at the initiatives they’ve rolled out around Steam over the past decade, they have been very clearly building towards where they are now – Big Picture Mode, Steam Machines, Steam Controller and the APIs around it, streaming, Family Sharing. Instead of dropping everything at once, they gradually built up an incredible platform that was ready to go when they had the proper hardware to run it on. It’s boiling the frog to build a new gaming platform, and it’s been amazingly well-executed so far.

Wow, OK…

while Apple was putting the entire iOS store on the Mac

Which is still very much in a beta state, and it was AFTER Google had already brought the Play Store to Chromebooks.

Microsoft was building their own complete android compatibility layer for Windows

Which is not out yet, so we still have no idea how well it will work in general and all apps that rely on Google Play Services will not work AT ALL. And Google also partnered with Parallels to bring Windows to Chrome OS.

and Steam was building a killer handheld…

I really hope the Steam Deck succeeds, so much so that that I have it pre-ordered and fully intend to buy it if the reviews are good. But, if Google managed to build a Switch-like system where you could use the phone you already have on the go and then just buy a relatively cheap dock accessory to hook it up to a TV and play AAA games, the immediate potential user base would be huge.
Or use licensed Android TV boxes from various OEMs, or create a Play Store for Windows and Mac to directly compete with Steam. And with Stadia as a Cloud alternative the same way we today have the XBox/XCloud combo.

NVidia just demoed Wolfenstein running on a Mediatek ARM chip with an RTX GPU. Imagine a new Shield using that combo.

The problem is that Google has a ton of side projects. We know they’re going to be canceled, because almost none of them ever contribute to Google’s main purpose.

Hard to be the world’s largest gaming platform without the games.

bruh

I just want to meet the person playing PUBG with a Nest Hub.

Typical Google.

I think people fail to realize how much of this stuff already is in play via Stadia & xCloud.

Google is already using vulcan, Agones for game hosting, the cloud, etc etc, and obviously Stadia.
Both Google & MS are far closer to being able to offer ubiquitous gaming that is near this vision than meets the eye.

Lol Microsoft yes, Google no. Google does not have the games or a viable business plan.

Yea alot of what’s in this powerpoint is just stadia.

I think – though I can by no means figure it out with all the redactions – that the "new" idea was to create a one-stop shop for development, hosting, commerce, cross-platform services, social media & engagement and all that stuff. Like a seamless experience between developer and user. I think.

Isn’t this just Stadia?

Game streaming in general really.

XCloud, NVidia Geforce Now, and Amazon Luna

Netflix came for Blockbuster … now Game Streaming in general is coming for Gamestop. lol

Stadia sounds like this things evolution. But this initial idea did involve local rendering.

The problem is this slide deck is from October 2020 – a year after Stadia launched. So this strategy was developed AFTER they tried going streaming-only. Are they migrating away from streaming or going to run this native strategy along side it? I’m going with the latter, since Google loves having its products compete with each other to a standstill and killing both projects.

Oh crap, you’re right. Very interesting.

Wonder if this is just Google internal competition. Maybe they want to treat gaming like messaging.

Their ultimate goal is to eventually merge Google Play Games and Stadia to a single gaming platform that works in any device. The same way they made YouTube their single music platform by replacing Google Play Music with a YouTube music service.

Seems that way, but this presentation showed they were planning native PlayStore clients for mac and windows, then providing native installs in addition to streaming, all tied together with single licensing, and backends/services.

So basically a Steam 2.0, a cross platform gaming platform that includes android also. Ironically, this is the kind of thing that could’ve made Stadia succeed, if same license provided native installs for PC gamers. Kinda like the Xbox Play Anywhere, Cloud Enabled licensing, that allows native versions on PC, consoles, plus streaming. This would’ve gone beyond that to provide macOS native plus android native versions.

If that new law allowing open storefronts on iOS and android passes, then MS definitely needs to create their storefront on those platforms, and expand Xbox play anywhere, GamePass licensing to native versions of indie games. Similar to what Apple Arcade is doing. MS is the closest to achieving this perfect ecosystem that can scale.

They have started lately to work on direct touch features in Stadia. There is a reason for that.
Their end goal is to make Stadia fully "mobile compatible" and then replace Play Games with Stadia. In 1 night Stadia will have literally billions of potential users…
People seem to ignore that Google is in top 5 of the revenue from gaming industry. They choose to ignore the fact that mobile gaming revenue is now more than pc and console gaming revenue combined.

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