Google licenses Stadia to AT&T, more companies to follow suit

Google licenses Stadia to AT&T, more companies to follow suit
Here’s an interesting development - Google is apparently starting to license its Stadia technology to other companies. The first contractor is AT&T - the US telecom is using Stadia to offer its subscribers the chance to play Batman: Arkham Knight through Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge for free.

"This is being powered by the Stadia technology," an AT&T spokesperson told the guys at IGN. "For this demo, AT&T created a front-end experience to enable gamers to play Batman: Arkham Knight directly from their own website and the game is playable on virtually any computer or laptop."

The really interesting part is that Batman: Arkham Knight is not available on Stadia. To play the game, you need to sign in on the specially created landing page, using your AT&T phone number and billing zip code. Once you’re done, you can click on the “Play Now for Free” button to launch the full-screen gaming experience.

Another curiosity is that AT&T is limiting the cloud gaming experience to desktop and laptop computers. “*Available for a limited time. To play Batman Arkham Knight please use Google Chrome or another Chromium-based web browser (ver.77 or higher) on a desktop or laptop. Must have an eligible consumer AT&T postpaid wireless number that is active and in good standing,” reads the fine print on the site.

This raises some questions. Wouldn’t it be nice to test this cloud gaming service on your smartphone? After all, AT&T is a telecom provider and it would’ve been the perfect opportunity to test the 5G network infrastructure. Second, what’s the thinking behind this move? Is there a bigger plan to implement Stadia into AT&T plans organically somehow?

Our take

Google had grand plans to create and produce Stadia games of its own but earlier this year, the company announced that it’s shutting down its studios and moving toward other business plans. Stadia general manager Phil Harrison said that Google plans to "work with partners seeking a gaming solution all built on Stadia’s advanced technical infrastructure and platform tools."

The game development business turned out to be a bigger bite than what Google can chew and swallow (at least for now), so it’s logical for the company to seek other ways to popularize its Stadia platform.

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Working with the telecoms is a genius move - gaming on mobile devices has exploded in the past couple of years, and many people would pay a few bucks extra with their 5G plan to be able to play AAA games on their phones and tablets. No separate subscription is needed - you just opt for a 5G plan + cloud gaming.

AT&T already tested the waters with a free Stadia Pro subscription bundled with some 5G plans but it’s a completely different experience when the service is baked into the AT&T infrastructure. Whether or not that kind of a business model will pick up, only time will tell.

What is Google Stadia

Google Stadia is a cloud gaming service that allows users to play using terminals, while the real computations are done on the server-side. Think big Google data centers running the game and you just use your phone or tablet to access it and control it.

It’s a pretty interesting idea that relies on the advancements in broadband and 5G internet technologies. You only need a good internet connection, a screen, and a controller. There are many other cloud game services besides Stadia, such as Microsoft’s xCloud, NVIDIA’s GeForce Now, and Amazon’s Luna service.

However, adoption is still slow, and there are many technical difficulties, such as input lag, resolution and compatibility issues, etc.

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