Today marks the third day of the Google Stadia Good Stuff videos and blog posts on the community forum. Since Tuesday, it’s been making some big announcements about new games coming to the platform, as well as making demos available to players for free.
All of that is indeed good stuff for Stadia. But despite how good that stuff is, a lot of the attention that the platform is getting today is for the wrong reasons.
Stadia is getting quite a bit of negative attention from this tweet
Streamers worried about getting their content pulled because they used music they didn’t pay for should be more worried by the fact that they’re streaming games they didn’t pay for as well. It’s all gone as soon as publishers decide to enforce it.
— Alex Hutchinson (@BangBangClick) October 22, 2020
It all stems from Alex Hutchinson and a tweet he posted to his account earlier in the day, in which he states that he basically feels streamers should have to pay a licensing fee to game studios and developers in order to stream their content and make money from it.
The argument hinges on comparing the act of profiting from streaming gameplay to using copyrighted music in a YouTube video. In the latter case, content creators generally have to license the ability to use that music in their content. Lest they risk being given a DCMA notice and having the video pulled down.
Game developers and publishers also have to license the rights to use music in their games. A comparison that people have been making in regards to this entire discussion.
The thing is, this isn’t the same thing. And I’m not really convinced it should be. Streamers fill a very specific role in the gaming industry. They hype up games and get people interested in playing them. All I can really come back to in reading this tweet is that it sounds greedy. Forget that it’s a notoriously bad take. Or that most people on Twitter which seem to be interacting with the post disagree with the sentiment.
Notably, well-known streamers like Gothalion, a popular Destiny 2 streamer, and Doctor Disrespect.
A lot of people quote tweeting this hot take about how streamers should need a license from publishers to stream their games.
I think we should be more concerned that anyone that works at Google Stadia is giving business advice.
— Gothalion (@Gothalion) October 22, 2020
Creative Director for Google Stadia. https://t.co/2ptIOiKNZT
— #Doctober (@drdisrespect) October 22, 2020
The Stadia team doesn’t share the same opinion
Whether you agree with Hutchinson or not, there are important distinctions to be made and details that are likely going to fly under the radar for many.
While this has drawn some negative attention to Stadia, which it doesn’t necessarily need, no one at Google, YouTube, or Stadia share Hutchinson’s sentiments. According to 9To5Google, a spokesperson from Google has said that Hutchinson’s statements do not reflect those of Stadia, Google, or YouTube.
Stadia was also asked in a separate thread about streaming gameplay of its most recent free game demo that went live today, Immortals: Fenyx Rising.
In that thread, the official Stadia Twitter encouraged players streaming Stadia content. Quite possibly because the team knows that it means it’s bringing exposure to the platform. It’s more eyes on the content. Which Stadia definitely needs.
Hi there, thanks for your tweet. Yes, you’re allowed to include Stadia content on streaming platforms. Let us know if you have other questions.
— Stadia (@GoogleStadia) October 22, 2020
Hutchinson has also made it clear that his opinions are his own by listing that in his Twitter bio. So while he does work at Stadia, that doesn’t mean this is the mentality that the entirety of the Stadia Games and Entertainment division has.
Stadia already has a bad reputation and more negative attention isn’t helping
Hutchinson’s opinions may not reflect Stadia’s opinions, but does that matter? One could argue that it doesn’t. Because some damage has already been done.
Spend any amount of time in the main thread on Twitter and you’ll be wading through comments that do a pretty good job at displaying what many people in the gaming community think about Stadia. Let alone game streaming as a whole.
It also doesn’t help that many people seem to think that Hutchinson is the Creative Director OF Google Stadia, when he is in fact not. He is a Creative Director at Google Stadia for the Montreal studio of Stadia Games and Entertainment.
Which is a very different thing. That being said, how many people are going to pay attention to the fact that he’s not the Creative Director for Stadia, but one of its game studios? How many people are going to care? While it is important to distinguish the two, it’s safe to say that a fair number of people will confuse one with the other and not give Stadia a second thought simply because one of the employees had an opinion that it seems most people disagree with.
If developers need more money, then publishers should pay them more
I get where the argument is coming from. Developers work hard to bring some amazing game experiences to players. They certainly deserve to profit from their hard work and efforts.
But that shouldn’t fall on the streamer. If developers need to make more money, and they do, then publishers should pay them more money.
Hutchinson and others feel that streamers are profiting off of the hard work that developers put in. All without having to pay any compensation to those developers. That does make some sense. But it’s possible and probable that games not only get more attention from streamers who play them, but more sales because people end up interested in playing after seeing their favorite streamers play.
People want to engage in the same kind of content. If it’s a popular game title, all the more so. Because of all the high energy surrounding it.
The perfect example?
Games like Among Us, a two-year old game, have now exploded thanks to streamers who have gone wild for it in recent months. It’s free on Android and only costs $5 on Steam. But you can bet that most of the attention it has now, it wouldn’t have without streamers.
Which would result in less sales. For a smaller studio like Innersloth, those sales increases are probably very much appreciated.
Also worth noting is the large amount of overwhelmingly positive reviews Among Us has on Steam. It released on November 16 of 2018. The massive uptick in positive reviews though didn’t start coming in until around July of this year. Some few months ago. And it really shot up on September 18, 2020.
It’s hard to believe that all those positive reviews aren’t a direct result from the game gaining loads of attention due to popular streamers.
And It’s hard to believe that streamers would have any sort of desire to pay a licensing fee for a game that was hardly known, when there was no guarantee that they’d gain any sort of meaningful viewership from it.
A long-term negative impact isn’t unlikely
Bringing things back to Stadia, a long-term negative impact from the attention it’s getting today isn’t unlikely. Many people already have minds made up about the platform.
And it’s not always easy to change minds where people’s hard-earned money is concerned. For Google’s part, distancing itself from an opinion like this is a good move. Especially when one of the bigger features it’s touting for the platform is the large interconnectivity with YouTube FOR STREAMING GAMEPLAY.
Native support for streaming your gameplay on Stadia straight to YouTube is not yet available. But Google is working on getting it pushed out. Game developers or publishers trying to enforce licensing fees to stream those games isn’t going to help this feature (or the platform as a whole) thrive any more than it would without it.
So again, making it clear that the Stadia team doesn’t reflect the same opinion, is a good thing for Stadia in the long-term. Unfortunately, this whole situation has only allowed for the disdain of the platform to pile on where it could have been avoided.
Stadia is great. In most cases it works well, and the concept of it all is cool. The last thing the platform needs is for people to associate bad takes with a person who makes the biggest decisions about the future of the platform.
That isn’t to say that a lot of this won’t just blow over. And it’s not like one opinion of one Creative Director of one of Stadia Games and Entertainment’s studios is going to automatically cause the entire platform to go belly up.
More negative attention is still something that the Stadia platform doesn’t need right now. Not when we’re headed into a new console generation and people are going to be making decisions about where to spend their money.