Google's cloud-based game streaming service Stadia has announced a handful of new initiatives aimed at "maximizing the return" game developers see from their Stadia titles and, at the same time, bringing more players into the paid side of Stadia's offerings.
As shared during the Stadia Keynote for the Google for Games Developer Summit, Google has a number of tricks up its sleeves that it believes will be mutually beneficial for game developers and Stadia as a platform, including a playtime-based cut of Stadia Pro revenue, a player referral program, and (temporary) changes to revenue share on Stadia.
That first idea, Stadia's Careen Yapp explains in the video above, was born from one question: "How can we ensure partners benefit more readily from our subscription?"
Starting this month, Google has pledged 70 percent of Stadia Pro's revenue to game developers that offer their games up as freebies on Stadia Pro. Specifically, pay is "based upon engagement for active claimable Stadia Pro titles" and will only apply to games new to the service. Engagement, in this case, is measured in session days, so developers will seemingly get a larger part of that 70 percent share depending on how many days individual Stadia Pro players log into their games.
Likely aiming to boost those potential figures, Google's second new Stadia developer program encourages game makers to hand out 'Click-to-Play' affiliate links to would-be players, and promises to pay out $10 for every player that converts from a free trial to paid subscription. This perk is set to go live in the first half of 2022 though, judging by a slide shown during the presentation, developers will need to accrue $500 through the Affiliate Marketing Program before it'll pay out.
Stadia says this particular program is one way the team is leveraging the platform's unique, cloud-based features as it "has a unique ability to generate a link to a partner's game and provide data for how that link performs and the players it brings to Stadia and the game." If that sounds at least partially familiar, it's probably because this a more engagement-focused spin on a feature Stadia has been talking about for ages. That feature, Click-to-Play, allows players can click a link and instantly start playing a game from right within their web browser through Stadia.
With the final dev-geared announcement from the keynote, Stadia follows in the footsteps of the many other platforms reevaluating their default revenue splits, albeit temporarily. To that end, starting this Q4, newly signed games on Stadia will take home 85 percent of their revenue (likely compared to the industry standard 70 percent) while Google will only take 15.
There's a small batch of caveats with that revenue split shift, however.
First off, and like both Apple and Google have done on mobile, only developers earning under a certain threshold on the storefront can benefit from the 85/15 split. For Stadia, the magic number is $3 million. After a game earns $3 million in revenue, the split reverts to its previous state. Secondly, the 85/15 revenue split isn't going to be around forever. In addition to only applying to "newly signed games," the offer will only apply to games that launch in either Q4 2021, 2022, and 2023.
"That's good news from a revenue-generating perspective, but in order to access these new partner incentives you first need to develop your game for Stadia," says Yapp.