Google tries to attract Stadia publishers with better revenue sharing


Promotional image of video game controller.

As part of a Stadia keynote presentation today, Google announced several moves designed to attract more games and publishers to its streaming gaming service. Chief among these is a more generous revenue split for publishers on the platform. Starting in October, Google will only take a 15 percent cut of the first $3 million in revenue for each new game on Stadia.

Assuming the industry-standard 30 percent cut, that means publishers stand to make up to $450,000 more per game before Google’s cut reverts back to the standard at the $3 million threshold (a Google representative told Ars that “Stadia currently provides competitive revenue share terms with partners that matches what they typically see from other industry platforms”). The more generous deal only applies to “newly signed games” on Stadia from October through the end of 2023, though, meaning publishers that got in on Stadia early will miss out on the increase for their legacy titles.

Google will also more directly be giving publishers a cut of the proceeds from the games Stadia offers as freebies through its $10/month Stadia Pro subscription. A full 70 percent of Stadia Pro revenue will now be shared with the publishers of “any new title that enters into Stadia Pro” starting this month. That revenue will be divided up among publishers based on the number of “session days” (i.e., daily active users per day) logged on each title among all Stadia Pro users.

Finally, Google says that it will be rolling out a new Affiliate Marketing Program to increase the value of the “Click to Play” links that Stadia developers and publishers can create. Starting sometime in early 2022, if a player signs up for Stadia Pro using one of those instant-play links, the developer or publisher behind the link will receive the first $10 monthly payment made on the subscription (after a one-month free trial). Google says it hopes this additional payment will provide “incentive for [developers and publishers] to use these simple, specialized links to help bring players into their games on Stadia across social media, YouTube videos, ads, partnerships—or wherever you can click on a link.”

Since its launch in late 2019 with 22 titles, Stadia has managed to attract 195 games to the service, according to a list maintained by Android Police. That’s a bit short of the 303 titles available on the PS4 at a similar point in its North American life cycle (i.e., July 2015) or the 221 games the Xbox One had at that point.

Stadia’s game list includes 51 titles that have joined the service since the beginning of 2021. The majority of those titles have been available on other platforms well before their Stadia launch, though, and only a handful are exclusive to the streaming platform.

In February, Google announced it was shutting down its in-house Stadia Games & Entertainment division, a move that came as a shock to the department’s 150+ staffers. In May, Stadia executive John Justice left Google shortly after public reports that the service severely undershot subscriber estimates.



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