BT seems to be increasingly interested in the video game industry

BT, the U.K.’s biggest internet provider, has initiated the first European distribution deal for Google’s Stadia cloud gaming service. The deal will allow the provider to offer a new bundle to subscribers that includes the gaming platform, a decision that targets some of BT’s most data-hungry users—gamers—in the hopes of boosting its broadband revenue.

Google’s Stadia platform makes it possible for users to stream games directly to any device—whether a laptop, desktop, TV or mobile phone. The platform, which had a rocky launch in November 2019, has faced some criticism regarding a lack of game titles and issues around lagging. Google, of course, has been working to improve upon those criticisms, and since then has announced more than an additional 120 games, including 10 exclusives.

BT customers will be provided with the Stadia Premiere Edition bundle, which has a Google Chromecast media player to support the gaming platform and Google’s custom-made controller, and also includes access to the Stadia Pro subscription tier for three months.

As part of a new strategic partnership with BT, the U.K. provider will be offering a range of Superfast Fiber Stadia gaming plans, as well as an advertising across a range of mediums.

BT’s interest in streaming game services is not entirely new. Nearly a decade ago, the provider supported OnLive, a similar project that ultimately failed, mostly due to latency challenges, a limited game library and a lack of suitable broadband coverage. As any gamer knows, latency is the number one hinderance to customer experience.

Google Stadia claims that none of this will be an issue on its platform.

BT seems to be increasingly interested in the video game industry in general, signing a deal to become the exclusive lead partner of major eSports team Excel Esports last week.

While U.K. game sales fell 3.4% year over year to £3.77 billion in 2019, according to the Entertainment Retailers Association, the decline was largely due to the console market’s maturity, with popular consoles such as Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One reaching the end of their life cycles. Upcoming hardware launches from Microsoft and Sony are expected to put game sales back on a growth trajectory. Additionally, spending on online and mobile games grew by 1.1% to £3.17 billion.

According to Kagan, a media market research group within S&P Global Market Intelligence, cloud gaming revenue, specifically, has grown slowly in recent years, but is set to explode from $416.7 million in 2019 to $3.61 billion in 2023, as more services become available.

Worldwide, the cloud gaming market is set to grow from its current market was valued at over $1 billion in 2018 to $8 billion by 2025, according to research report by Global Market Insights, Inc. The robust popularity of gaming and the widespread adoption of advanced technologies, like 5G, has led to a major surge in cloud gaming market share.

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